Riding a Motorcycle is about muscle memory, like swimming – you will never forget it but if you don’t keep at it, you will not progress to the next level. This week, we will be focusing on certain key basics while we showcase areas of interest in and around Mumbai.
Currently, I have a fixed route while riding, Home – Narmain Point – Walkeshwar – Mahalakshmi – Home. I have been fixated on the route for about 2 months now. Two reasons for selecting this route: the awesome view at Marine Drive and the twists and turns on the Walkeshwar stretch. What I have found most helpful while riding is looking ahead – being able to look ahead, being able to notice what’s important – is a vital specially when you are riding in Mumbai. You never know when someone tries to sneek past you or jump in front of you. Looking would seem very ordinary and that that’s something everybody is capable of, but you will notice that there is much to learn about looking ahead.
You ride towards where you look, so to learn cornering well, you will have to look in the right direction. In traffic, you will have to learn to notice far more than you usually see. Whether safety or speed appeals most to you, you will have to work on your looking skills. The only advice I can give here is try not to get distracted. Focus on what’s ahead and anticipate your move accordingly. Marine drive is ideal for practising – this road is broad and in the morning has a lot less traffic.
Enough about the looking. Let’s go back to the riding. I generally leave home at about 7:00 am, go through Marine Drive upto Narimain point and then turn towards Cuffe Parade; note the Cuffe Parade road tends to get very crowded even at 7 in the morning; from there it’s pretty much back towards home. When I hit Chowpatty on my way back, I don’t take the right to go home, I carry on towards Walkeshwar – this is the other end of South Mumbai – the road is an uphill with a few twists and turns to master the art of cornering, the top most being a complete U-Turn towards Hanging Garden (more on that a little later). In my opinion, the essence of motorcycle riding is cornering: You may keep enhancing your cornering skills for the rest of your life, and you will probably never reach full perfection (well, maybe with the exception of Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa). What kinds of mistakes are often made in corners, and what is the reason for those mistakes? What can you do about it? What is the perfect line, and how do you find it? When do you brake, and what is the right speed for a corner? I think too many things to cover in one post, suggestion – practise slow cornering; the aim should be to be able to take an uphill u-turn without putting your leg on the road.
Now, back to riding. So post taking the dreaded U-Turn at Walkeshwar, I head towards Hanging Gardens. These are the iconic public parks which anyone who has lived in Mumbai is aware of. Amazing open spaces at the top of a hill; I actually went into the park this weekend, something I have not done in about 15-20 years; I was pleasantly surprised at how well the park was maintained. There were a lot of senior citizens walking and sitting around the park, there was classical music playing on the PA system, clean bathrooms. I was pleasantly surprised. I then went on to the Shoe House Park…. I have no idea what it is called, but there is a giant shoe in there; as kids, Milind and I used to climb up to the top of the same. Again, pleasantly surprised – the park was maintained well, people were not littering, absolutely awesome! I had my camera along, so did some photography and rode back home. Check out the amazing beach view from one of the lookout points in the park. If you are in Mumbai or live here and enjoy bike rides like we do, check this route; I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. As usual, check the gallery for pictures from Hanging Garden, both early morning and late at night.
The amazing Photo Gallery