23 July … I left the Netherlands a month ago. A lot has happened during the month past. Now I sit at the Bidjar Ngoulin campsite, my Epic a week old.
Today in a word? Easy! Finally. 30 km before 1230 including many stops for photos and the like.
I arrived dry, little sweat, without ache in my legs nor tiredness behind my eyes. My lungs have not been tortured and my heart not taken to the redline.
Basically no pebble gravel, little in the way of washed out inclines strewn with boulders and leaves, and looong stretches where I could cruise at a nice cycling tempo.
In short … and easy day.
The Munda Biddi followed a river for quite a ways. Every now and then I’d stop and simply enjoy looking at the languid waters, dreaming Oh! Just a little about marroning …
Occassionally the road kinda wasn’t … but am used to this by now.
24 July … somewhat of a return to the Good Old Bad Old Days … a diversion due to mining activities saw me do over 100m ascent over a little more than 1000m. 10% incline. Nice soft, slimy and slippery too. I made it but I also redlined it with three stops to prevent a heart attack.
Back to the energy sapping up and down cycles with less cruise. Though I had more ‘down’ overall than ‘up’ for which I am grateful.
It was also cool today. Took awhile to warm up. Last night was the first night I was cold. Not too cold but it was cold. I’ll try the tent tonight and see if that helps. If so, looks like I’ll be tenting in the shelters of the campsites to create my own little snug micro-climate inside the Soulo.
A bunch of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos squawked encouragingly at me towards the end of my day. Love ’em.
Tonight is the Lake Brockman Tourist Park, on the shores of – you guessed it – Lake Brockman, the only water body I’ve come across where tourists are actually allowed to do things, like swim and fish and watersports.
Nice looong hot shower though no place to get out of the cold. The ‘kitchen hut’ has no walls, as with the normal Munda Biddi campsites. I’ll be tenting, interested to see what the difference really is, if anything.
Company for the night were a couple of Jehovah Witnesses. Nice couple. The Jehovah Witnesses is a proselytizing religion but Tony and Vanessa & Sambo their friendly waggy-tail dog, merely outlined their views on life, the World and the Kingdom. As they described it, it was quite a nice place. And you never know … perhaps one day the reckoning will come. As good a reason as any to live a righteous and respectful life. Although the Jehovah Witnesses are currently embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal of their own at the moment, which is deplorable and makes me wonder whether religion can ever live up to its own standards.
Tony left a book and some pamphlets for me. Unfortunately the book was a bit much (in weight and size) but I have the pamphlets and shall read them.
0600 wake up. Pitch black. Tent wet from the light drizzle during the night and the ubiquitous dew. I was well toasty warm and snug during the night. I truly believe I do not have to worry about the night cold during rest of my descent into the Southern Climes of Western Australia.
0740 I leave Lake Brockman and make my way towards Yarri some 45 km to the south. The longest ride so far along the Munda Biddi. Am curious how it is to go.
1500 … Yarri Campsite.
I arrive mid afternoon at the Yarri Campsite. The morning session was a beautiful dream. Nice but not simple tracks. Enough challenge to keep it interesting but not enough to reduce it to The Slog and all that entails. A failure of oversight last night saw me charge the GPS fully but then leave it on so the battery was pretty empty. A beautiful warm sunny lunch spot gave me the opportunity to fire up the Goal Zero and feel smug that I have such electronica, even if the additional weight is a pain.
As I ride a persistent rattling noise (trillen/trilling) emanates from the rear. The mud-guard on Ziflex worrying itself to self-destruction. The screws and washers fastening it to the frame are not the best. Something to be replaced in Collie. Even though as the viddy shows I try/tried to tighten the screws more, it doesn’t work. To stop the trillen I eventually jammed a bit of wood between the mudguard and the frame, which worked brilliantly.
Increasing in smugness, confidence, tranquility, that shear exuberance of a Great Day on an Epic Ride I continue towards Yarri.
My God … My Earth Mother Queen … does not like me being smug. Seems she likes me to remain humble and so when a decent dose of smugness assails me and I become, say, complacent She pretty much always throws a spanner in the works. And today, this ride, this screaming section of exalted riding pleasure had to come to an end … and so it did.
I am not going fast, it is afterall a long slow incline and I am long slow inclining. I am seven kilometres to Yarri. I am feeling smug. I push the Dreamer a little and lift the front end to ease our passage over a small fallen log which just catches the front wheel Oh Just So Much and shifts me and my trajectory just that much to the right and right next to, nay … along a tree which had fallen over and in one beautiful life-defining split second of ‘thump’ simply tore off my right rear pannier.
There it lies a meter and half behind the trailer, a forlorn statement to the perils of smugness.
The Ortlieb patented Quick Lock 2.1 hook and fasteners have been just torn off.
There is no way to secure the pannier to the frame.
Now I have no less than three panniers with fucked QL2.1 hooks a fasteners. The Munda Biddi and fully loaded long haul bike-touring set-up does not a good match make, I conclude.
I check the time. 1330. I’m seven kilometres from Yarri and 52-ish from Collie where spares to solve this very problem are, hopefully, awaiting me.
No worries. I’ll use the ubiquitous twine with its “Nothing Tougher” claim.
Only … I left the twine back in Dwellingup! Oh Shit.
I have a 2.5 metre long spanband – y’know those strap things you feed one end through a fastener and secure things with it.
I transfer one of the QL2.1 hooks from the left rear pannier to the right. Both now have one hook. I then secure the two panniers to the frame and each other using the spanband. Not the most elegant but it should work.
Gingerly I crawl off. I need not have worried. My Bush Doctoring seems to be pretty solid and the panniers do not cause any more problems, not to Yarri. Not to Collie.
At the Yarri Campsite I set the tent up in the shelter to reduce the risk of heavy dew and having to pack a wet tent again. Quite funny to sleep inside a tent inside a shelter. I appreciate very much the Hillebergs Soulo free-standing tent. Check it out at: http://us.hilleberg.com/EN/products/red-label/soulo/soulo.php.
Otherwise I’d have to find a flat place in the forest somewhere, which is more challenging than you might think considering topography, terrain and flora.
I actually wake before the alarm set for 0600, which worries me. This may be becoming a habit. 0745 I ride forth. Another cool start. I am not bothered by a ‘cool start’, coz it isn’t really cold. And I’m on a bike. It’s a kind of built in self heating process. No ice or frost. But I have found a limitation … my wonderful Shimano cycling shoes have no thermal insulation along the sole so my feet get really cold from the bottom up! Am gonna have to get some thinsulate liners in Collies. Also need Roz to send me my Roeckl winter riding gloves as I realise that whilst cold is not going to trouble the (non-cycling) gloves I use if I have to ride in the cold and wet then my hands will suffer.
The ride into Collie was great. Clear blue skies, easy(-ish) track, with the odd bit of asphalt and gravel road which significantly increased my moving and overall averages to something like 12.5 and 9.5 kph, or up to 50% faster than the slowest day.
Considering my load, the ruptured Ortliebs, my desire to avoid a heart-attack this early in my trip I studied the terrain chart and decided to avoid a couple of less-than savoury sections. Didn’t save me kilometres so much as time, leg and heart strain.
For sure the Munda Biddi is much more benign now, reflected in the much faster averages and the speed by which I do the overall kilometres. If I skip staying at the campsites I should be able to increase the number of daily kilometres ridden by between 50 and 100%. A significant advantage of the campsites being the shelters and the water. It’s a pain breaking down or setting up a wet camp.
Western Australia seems obsessed with NO! All they need to add to the sign is No Drinking Water and it would be complete …
I arrive in Collie just after midday. 42 km in just over four hours including stops. Easy.
Collie is to be shower but even more importantly clean some clothes, fix the Ortliebs, tighten up the trailer, and get provisions.
I am feeling really good at the moment. Weight has been lost and my belt will need yet another new hole soon. I feel the power in my legs, which means I am pretty much trail fit, rather than getting trail fit. The weather whilst cool and occasionally wet is great. It would be far far harder if it were hotter than if colder.
The Munda Biddi is getting easier and the forest, ever pervasive, is getting bigger and bigger. Them trees are fucking impressive.
There are kangaroos a-plenty and I’ve even come across an Emu.
The Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos continue to herald my journey with their constant calling, the 28s twitter and dart, red-chested Rosellas make an appearance every-now-and-then, and magpies and crows watch me with interest.
I love it …
Collie, 27 July