160 km and three days ride south of Collie.
Finally did some distance. Not all of it easy mind you. The middle bit, from Crooked Brook Forest to Jarrahwood was tough. At 65 km it was not only the longest ride so far but the track was that energy-sapping short steep ascent immediately followed by a short steep descent. The loose gravel and stone nature of the track meant I had to descend carefully, losing that exhilarating hurtle downhill at break-neck speed so I can get some ways up the ascent on the other side. Instead I had to peddle slowly and pantingly up with the occasional redline. Then when the track did flatten out a bit it was a brutal mix of poorly-sorted mixed angular gravel and … sand. Sand and Dreamer a good-combination do not make.
The former made me bounce and vibrate along like some kind of masochistic bone-shaking weight-loss program. The sand simply removed the front wheel from under me or made the back one spin uselessly. The bike tipped at one stage and I didn’t have time to get my foot on the ground, instead I was catapulted off the saddle performing a most graceful role to end up back on my feet.
I don’t like sandy tracks.
Departing Collie I eschewed the official Munda Biddi Nglang Boodja campsite and rode an extra 20 km to the Crooked Brook Forest picnic site. Stopping before midday simply wasn’t going to do it for me especially as should I the next day’s ride would be nearly 90 km! The track would have to be damned easy to pull-off 90 kilometres. And considering I’ve only managed like 47 km, 90-odd seems a tad too much. Camping at Crooked Brook Forest would reduce the next day’s ride to 74. Eminently more doable. The map says there should be water at Crooked Brook. There was, but not as in a tap for visitors to use. I pitched the tent under a shelter where some tables are. The idea was to avoid dew. It worked, though condensation did dampen the inside a bit.
Since Dave had bought me dinner the night before I had some prawns, fresh champignons, peulen (snow peas), a red-chili (not that hot) and a pack of noodles. And at Crooked Brook I have a BBQ. A classic Ozzy gas-powered free BBQ. I can ‘chuck some prawns on the barby’ as Paul Hogan invited all visitors to Australia to do.
It was an amazing meal. Best trail meal yet. Stir-fried shrimp & veggy noodles. Great!
Expecting 74 km of ride from Crooked Brook to Jarrahwood I got up at 0540. Yes, I’ll repeat that: I got up at 0540. It’s pretty damned black at 0540 I can tell you.
By 0700 I am on my way. Actually, I did all right. I managed to get to Jarrahwood a bit after 1400 with a moving average of 12 km/hr and an overall average of 9. Took me 7.15 hours. My plan is to only ‘ride’ for a maximum of 6 hours per day so I exceeded my plan.
Seduced by a small imminently missable sign on the Munda Biddi where it crosses Aschroft Road just shy of Jarrahwood itself I succumbed to the thought of a hot shower and a bed indoors. Especially for 20 AUD. I shared the space with Norm, an amazingly sprightly octogenarian but one who has managed to spread his crap from one end of the 3-bedroom house to the other in the two weeks he’s been here. I washed my trail clothes and dried them infront of the fire. And at 0500 in the morning when the rain really began I was quite content to snuggle down deeper into my sheets and duvet of the double bed and ignore the whole idea of riding towards Nannup bright and early.
In typical Australian fashion the good three hours of constant rain stopped, the sun came out and I was riding along in t-shirt for the 28 km to Nannup on an old relatively flat and beautifully rideable railway line.
I’ve been considering my water consumption. Afterall once I hit the deserts I’ve godda know how many litres for how many days’ riding. So, let’s look at yesterday, Crooked Brook to Jarrahwood. No spectacular ascents, nor particularly hot. But that up and down up down ascend descend on broken and/or sandy track pushed my water consumption to nearly 3 litres. Today, pretty flat and pretty good surface, perhaps half a litre. Today was warmer than yesterday too. Conclusion? Well, hauling Dreamer and my ass over tough broken terrain with plenty of effort is going to cost plenty of water. Gentle easy riding should see me use significantly less.
Food’s another major concern. I’ve been thinking about this too. Clear that parmigiana reggiano handles non-refrigeration brilliantly. As does salami. And a pack of dried biscuits survives pretty good to. That takes care of lunch, along with dried fruit and nuts for snacks.
‘Fresh’ food, like a handful of champignons, a chili or two, some peulen (snow peas) also seem to survive a couple of days. Then there are them dried pasta-sauce packets. Just add water and a pasta do I have. Add some salami/pepperoni, garlic and onion and it tastes great. As does couscous, with a dash of chicken bouillon (the only flavour I have). Porridge for breakfast, of course. Oats mixed with dried milk and lots of dried fruit’n’nuts. Very tasty when travelling, but not something I’d eat at home.
There are nine detailed maps dedicated to the Munda Biddi track from one end to the other. Cost 100 AUD for the set. Quite expensive per map, considering what other maps you can buy for that money. I study these maps remorselessly. I doubt Captain Cook studied his maps with any more dedication than I study mine.
The maps have a brilliant caveat, a disclaimer. Each one, in small print mind you, warns/suggests the intrepid biker to “Plan ahead and prepare. Always carry a map and know how to read it”. Why this sticks in my head is that each map presents a ‘Terrain Profile’ along the length of the trail covered by the map. It then classifies this terrain into “Easy”, “Medium” or “Challenging”. Here’s where it gets sneaky and that disclaimer comes in.
If a biker did not “know how to read” the map they could well be mistaken for believing that “Easy” meant the riding would be, well, easy. Right? Not an absurd assumption. They would be wrong. The classification covers the “Terrain”, not the condition of the track.
There can be these relatively flat “Easy” terrain but the track can be busted rock, pebble-gravel marbles or, my pet favourite, sand. For kilometres, reducing speed and increasing effort by enormous amounts. Wanna test that? Yeah? Easy, cut off the track and ride along the gravel road which quite often parallels the track. Instantly speed picks up and effort drops. Asphalt? It’s as if the bike rides itself.
So yeah I want the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation to classify the trail in terms of ease of riding, not terrain profiles. The maps dedicate two whole flaps to litigation mitigation and nanny-state warnings. It would be far more useful to write a bit about the actual trail and what to expect. This would include but not be restricted to terrain profiles.
Something else struck me as I was riding between Collie and Crooked Brook. I got to the top of a hill and there in front of me was something I didn’t realise I hadn’t really seen much of … a view. A nice long distance view of the forest and hills.
Almost all of the time I am deep within the forest. I see no end of magnificent trees and bushes but I rarely see a view. Except for farmland. Which is probably why I take photos of farm views.
I came across one house on top of a hill which has the most magnificent view for a good 270o. Amazing. I want that house. I took a panorama to give you an impression.
Then there are the Jarrah logs through which the trail bisects … literally Mr Joe Lumberjack got his impressive saw and cut a section away and they routed the Munda Biddi through the log. Some are a good two meters in diameter. Impressive trees.
Today, the 8th August, is meant to be a ‘storm’ day. Wind, rain, that sort of thing. And for sure it has rained. Wind? Err … nothing any decent Dutch cyclist on their way to work puts up with on a daily basis. In true Western Australian fashion, although it rains and it’s wet and all that, the rain stops, the sun comes out and it’s nice and pleasant. Half and hour or an hour later comes another shower. Quite a civilised storm, thinks I.
Still, I am happy to be in caravan, rented at Nannup Caravan Park and enjoy the sound of the rain pattering on the roof. Tomorrow it’s all meant to be a bit drier and sunnier and I shall venture forth once again.
Nannup, 8 August 2015