Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Deccan Cliffhanger 2017 Cycle race and south Goa

I started Cycling around 10 months back and my focus was on long distance cycling. Every endurance Indian cyclist's dream to participate in Ultra races. Deccan Cliffhanger is one of the Them. I was not prepared to participate in the race in Solo or Team category but we (Me and Renuka) got chance to be a part of the race as Crew member for my cyclist friends.

After the race, I and Renu decided to explore few beaches from South Goa for 2 days.

Bogmalo Beach
Bogmalo Beach

About Deccan Cliffhanger Race
Deccan cliffhanger is Ultra cycle race of 643 km (400 miles) starting from Pune to Bogmalo beach, Goa. The race is conducted by Inspire India and concept by Divya Tale (Head of Inspire India). This is an annual race which held on November month. Race comes with 2 categories as Solo and relay team race. Relay team category comes with a team size of 2,3 or 4. The race also offers All Men category, All woman team category, and Mix team category.
Check Website for More details:

Race Route is Pune - Wai - Mahabaleshwar - Medha Ghat - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur - Nipani - Belgaon- Dharwad - Anmod Ghat - Bogmalo beach.
This year route was changed due to bad road condition in Medha Ghat and it was altered as Pune - Joshi Vihir - Wai - Bhilar ghat - Satara and further remains same.

Deccan cliffhanger (DC) solo race is a RAAM (Race Across America) qualifier which is known Worlds toughest cycle race.
DC race must have a support vehicle and crew members for all kind of support to Riders.

Day 1: 04 November 17: Pune to Goa
              We participated in 4 men team category. Riders were Advait, Sunny, Kunal and Vishal. Crew team was Me, Renuka, Amruta, Ronit, and Vibhangi. Our flag off time was between 7:30 - 8 AM. Flag off was started from 5AM with Solo participants Fallowed by teams. There was individual flag off for everyone as time is calculated separately. Our 4 men team was split into 2 cars for better planning and smooth switching.

Our Deccan Cliffhanger Team... Ronit Dalvi missing in Photo

               In Team race, one rider is on track and others are in crew car or at the switching point. Riders can switch their turn as many time as they want. It depends upon team's planning. We decided to switch rider after every 45 min on the highway and after every 5 KM in Pasarni Ghat. Crew members need to take care of Riders cycles, Navigation of race route, Right Food for Riders, help in technical issues, Riders health, preparing him for a ride and importantly to motivate the riders as 643km race requires high endurance!

Flag off Time... Sunny on Cycle

            The race starts at the cliff project, Bhugaon. Most of the riders were together till Khambatki Ghat. Riders get separated While climbing Pasarni Ghat (Ghat to reach Mahabaleshwar) as it actually tests your endurance and climbing skills. The race goes in a smooth manner after Satara as route till Tondavli Ghat (After Nipani, Karnataka) is pretty flat with some up and downs.

Crew Cars at Katraj Climb

              We were at the second position after Karad in 4 men team category. We crossed Kolhapur during sunset time. After sunset, the rule is simple...Rider has to ride the bicycle in the headlight area which means the distance between support car and cycle should not be more than 30-35 Feet. Crew members take responsibility for such rules, food supply, and navigation. Weather calculation changes after sunset as now rider have to face the chilled wind.

Rider: Sunny Khandale

Rider: Advait Khatavkar

Rider: Vishal Butte

Rider: Kunal Singh

Day 2: 05 November 17: Pune to Goa
              We crossed Dharwad by 12 midnight. Next journey was to enter Goa via Mahavir forest. We spotted Wolf in the forest those were about to cross the road in front of Cycle. By early morning we entered Goa. We finish the race at 6.22 AM scurrying 2nd position. Finish point of Deccan cliffhanger race is Bogmalo Beach.

During Switching point... Vishal about to cross Kunal

              Riders get Finisher medal and satisfaction of completing 400miles race on their faces. Few solo riders manage to finish the race in less than 30 hours which is qualification time for RAAM race. We had some photoshoot and rest on the beach. The entire team (Riders and Crew) worked hard to finish the DC 2017. We checked in the hotel for rest and we hardly got time to sleep from last 24+ hours. The award ceremony was arranged on Bogmalo beach from 7PM. The program started with Price distribution and result announced followed by Dinner. Party was over by 10:30 PM. This year, I participated in the race as Crew but next year, I will be a Rider for sure!

Second Position at Deccan Cliffhanger

Sunset at Bogmalo Beach
Sunset at Bogmalo Beach

             We all went out as friends planned my birthday celebration. At midnight, we had my birthday celebration by cutting the tasty cake. Our day ends at 2AM

Celebration Time

Day 3: 06 November 17: Goa
              Advait and Me woke up early in the morning and went for Cycling. We visited Hollant beach which is very close to Bogmalo. Hollant beach is very small beach and hardly visited by tourists. Beach is clean surrounded by hills from 3 sides. We spend some time and returned to the hotel. All went to Pune by crew cars in morning Expect Me-Renu and Advait-Amruta.

Hollant Beach
Hollant Beach

Hollant Beach
Hollant Beach

              We had Breakfast at Bogmalo beach and then relaxing time around Bogmalo. Our plan was to move towards the south and catch Bus for Pune by tomorrow evening. We did check out from Hotel and went to Mapusa by Local bus. We hired Bikes (which is common in Goa) to explore south Goa side.
              It was 1 PM in clock so we had lunch at Benaulim beach. Seafood at Johncy's restaurant was tasty. We spend some time on the beach. The weather was pleasant even in the afternoon as it was bit cloudy. Our next destination was Coba de Rama beach. We somehow manage to reach Ag sunset time and witness beautiful Sunday along with a cup of hot coffee. Beach is not populated like another famous Goan beach.

Sunset from Coba de Rama Beach

              After sunset, we returned to Benaulim beach to search for stay option. We got rooms at Woodstock Bamboo cottage. Rooms were very basic but manageable for night stay. After some rest, we had dinner in one of the shacks from Benaulim beach.

Day 4: 07 November 17: Goa to Pune
             We woke up early and went to the beach. Hotel owner gave his own cycle for the ride as our cycles went to Pune in Car. Renu had some Yoga on the beach whereas I and Advait went for beach cycling. It was fun to ride a cycle on the beach.

Roadside Fish display...Early Morning Cycle Ride

Early morning on Benaulim Beach

               After breakfast, Advait and Amruta left Goa for Pune. We check out from the hotel to visit a couple of beaches before catching a bus for Pune. we decided to visit Colva beach. the beach is famous for water sports, shacks and long stretched beach. After taking a stroll on the beach we came back to the parking area. Beach area has a huge market to buy clothes, footwear, gift articles and much more.

Colva Beach

              Our next beach to visit was Betalbatim beach. Actually, it is extended part of Colva beach. It is logically separated by respective village/town area. Beach was less crowded than Colva beach. We went ahead and visited Majorda beach. Again it is part of the same beach. In fact, you will find same beach line from Arossim to Betul without any discontinuity. Different names to beaches were given as per nearby village/town. There were few shacks on the beach. Beach was occupied by Russian tourists. Even all restaurant boards were written in the Russian language. We left the beach and came back to Colva for Lunch. We spend an entire afternoon in one the shack.

Majorda Beach
Majorda Beach

             We decided to spend sunset time at Varca beach as it is always less crowded than Colva. The road to reach Varca takes a right at main circle near Colva, for Benaulim and go straight till you see an old whitewashed church on your left. Take right to reach Varca beach. The road is surrounded by coconut trees so if you are travelling during Monsoon, the journey is pleasant.Varca beach is famous for its golden sand and flat seabed. We had a walk on the beach and settle down to witness the beautiful sunset from Varca.

Beach games at Varca Beach

Sunset at Varca Beach

              We left beautiful Varca beach after sunset. We returned hired a bike at Mapasa and boarded 8PM sleeper Volvo for Pune. On next day morning, We reached home safely.

As this was pre-planned Race Fallowed Trip, I was unable to keep track of expenses. Will share few expenses details from Trip

  • Raikar Guest House, Bogmalo: INR 1200/- per Room
  • Pedro Restaurant: INR 1900/- for 4 people (Veg and Non-veg meal)
  • Woodstock Village Bamboo Cottage: INR 800/- per night
  • Beach Shack: INR 2200/- for 4 people (Veg and Sea Food)
  • Bike Rent: INR 300/- per day
  • Goa-Pune Sleeper coach bus: INR 800/- per person

GPS locations:
  • Bogmalo beach: 15.369221, 73.834616
  • Hollant beach: 15.370060, 73.862531
  • Coba de Rama beach: 15.103334, 73.925617
  • Benaulim Beach: 15.256959, 73.919196
  • Betalbatim beach: 15.292331, 73.908308
  • Colva Beach: 15.275785, 73.913541
  • Mojarda Beach: 15.309977, 73.902426
  • Varca Beach: 15.233130, 73.925986

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni