Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Munda Biddi Trail: Stage 1: Day 1

Daisy, Daisy
Give me your answer do
I'm half crazy all for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you look sweet
Upon a seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

         (Daisy Bell, Harry Dacre)

Blue line with yellow dots = Munda Biddi Trail.
Green line with yellow dots = Touring route.
Red line with yellow dots = asphalt road to YHA Hostel, Perth Hills.

Image for illustration only. Important information has been erased from this map. Do not use.

9:42 AM.

The original plan was to ride from Willetton to Cannington Station, transfer to the Midland line, and get off at Midland Station. From there, I would ride 18.3 km (11.4 miles) along the Railway Reserve Trail (detailed map) to the start of the Munda Biddi Trail at Mundaring. However, while Transperth allows bicycles on its trains during off-peak hours, trailers are banned. Thus, instead of AUD$3.50, I had to fork out AUD$66 for a station wagon cab to take me to Mundaring. (Actual fare was over $72, the driver gave me a discount for insanity.)

All loaded up.

A short road train on the left.

Entering the Shire of Mundaring.

Sculpture Park, the northern terminus of the Munda Biddi Trail. The info shed lies directly behind.

More information about the trail can be found in the previous year's ride report.

Obligatory shot.
The crew cut made keeping my hair clean easier.


Rider 62 kg (136.4 lbs)
Cloe (2005 custom Merlin) 11 kg (24.2 lbs)
Two 22 fl. oz. Nalgene™ ATB Bottle 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
Campers' Corner Pack It Sack (on rear rack) 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs)
Camelbak™ H.A.W.G. (with 0 liters of water) 5 kg (11 lbs)
Bob Ibex Trailer 7.7 kg (16.94 lbs)
Bob Dry Sak 20 kg (44 lbs)
Orange Seal Line Storm Sack (sleeping bag) 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
Blue Seal Line Baja Dry Bag™ 5 kg (11 lbs)
Black Ortlieb™ Rack Pack 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs)
Blue, long, Sea to Summit™ sack 1 kg (2.2 lbs)

Total weight (without rider and bike) 48.7 kg (107.14 lbs)

0 km (0 mile).
Started off @ 11:14 AM.

Crossing Pretty Lane.

Purple Fringed Lily (Thysanotus patersonii). The seeds of this plant require forest fires to germinate. Commercial seed packets suggest piling leaves or crumpled newspaper above the soil where the seeds are planted, and then setting the pile on fire. Your perfect gift this Christmas season for pyromaniacs.

Purple Lily. Gary Christopher Fisher seems predisposed to purple too.

As it is spring, not autumn, the wattles are not in bloom.

Other flowers are in bloom though.

What is it like to ride alone in silence through sea after sea of flowers?

Magic. Pure magic.

Looking back up: nearly missed this sharp right turn. It takes forever to turn or stop with a fully-loaded trailer.

A familiar sight.

Hello, my old friends...

Flowers of Western Blackboys (politically correct name, Grass Tree; scientific name, Xanthorrhoea preissii) (center) are everywhere too. The flowers can be soaked in water to make a sweet refreshing drink.

7.5 km (4.7 miles), 140 feet (42.7 m) of climbing, and 415 feet (126.5 m) of elevation loss later, Mundaring Weir Hotel.
Temperature  21° C (69.8° F)
Time  12:10 PM

Following Mundaring Weir Road downhill to the next section.

The trail narrows at this point and parallels Helena River. About a couple hundred meters or so westwards, a fork in the trail heads south, ignore that and maintain your heading. I tried following that in 2007; it was even more overgrown.

Longer, curved bar ends are a mixed blessing here: while they protect your hands from prickly bushes, they also run the risk of snagging them. If you run stubbies, this is a good opportunity to test if your anger management classes worked.

As I missed a sign, I ended up following Pipe Road a little more than I have to. From Mundaring, the Golden Pipeline runs 560 km (350 miles) east, delivering water to Kalgoorlie.

So, instead of having a whoop-de-doo on singletrack, I was pushing my bike up loose, gravelly slopes like these.

I made sure I didn't miss the next one.

The part after this was a #@%&!!! nightmare. While the water crossing was dry, large rocks stick out at odd angles, forming steps that topple your trailer and bike — and sometimes, you — over. And oh, don't stop to catch your breath, because the ground is swarming with large, angry red ants. Like the Vietnamese say, Didi! I.e. make tracks; move!

What's left of a previous biker.

Alas, poor Stanley! I knew him, Cloe...

As I haven't mastered the trailer yet, I had to push the bike over Ron Jeremy's mojo this log. By the end of the tour, riding over humps like the one on the left became second nature.

1:16 PM
1st crash of the tour.
Well, at least it's scenic (kinda).
Blackboys applauded and gave me a 3 out of 10 for style.

You don't say?

I guess the music's over... for this Australian Ringneck Parrot (Barnardius zonarius semitorquatus).

Stopping for a breather.

And a video. Click to hear a Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) laughing and the Australian Ringneck Parrots' call (which sounds like "twenty-eight").

The regular route turns left.

I decided that discretion is the better part of valor.

Washouts suck.

At least it did not go in this direction (gravity doesn't sleep).

Getting onto Asher Road.

Asher Road intersects part of the Bibbulmun Track.

And I was wondering why pedaling on a relatively level road felt harder than usual. You heard of resistance training; well, meet resistance touring.

Junction of Asher Road and Mundaring Weir Road.

The trail re-enters the bush after crossing the road.

But the watch read 2:51 PM, and — the 3 Uncle Toby's Muesli Bars being inadequate for lunch — I was tired and hungry.

So I cruised downhill to The Dell for a second lunch.

19.09 km (11.93 miles). Terrible progress today. Ugh.

This spot is 165 feet (50 m) lower in elevation than the junction of Asher Road with Mundaring Weir Road.

Gum nuts, the emblem of the Shire of Kalamunda, hang overhead.

By the time I was done with lunch and sterilizing the next batch of water, it was 4:21 PM. Too late to try and make it to Carinyah Campsite, 28 km (17.5 miles) away from this point. Originally, I thought I could camp at The Dell and continue the next morning, but camping isn't allowed. The next best option was YHA Hostel, Perth Hills.

4:45 PM. This place looks familiar. Almost back to square one. From Asher Road / Mundaring Weir Road junction, there is a loss of 625 feet (200 m) of elevation — which I have to climb back up the next day. Kind of depressing to think about.

5:30 PM.

The building on the left houses the dining area, kitchen, lounge, and single rooms. The toilets and laundromat are in the green building with the hedge.

You shall not pass (or I'll kick you in the nuts)!

A territorial Western Grey Kangaroo with a joey in her pouch blocked my way.

A couple of Western Brush Wallabies messing around.

Dining area.


I had the run of the entire room :-P

As there is daylight left, I took a little walk to Mundaring Weir Hotel to stretch my legs.

Flowers, like fireworks frozen in motion — fragrant, silent, tactile; present — etch the cool, crisp air.

Okay, I confess, the real reason for this walk was to wet my throat.

No happy hour tonight?


Flowers in the dying light.


Today was hard. Most probably because I'm (possibly) overloaded; with the bungee cords, the Bob trailer holds 32 kg of cargo — and the 10 liter MSR Dromedary™ Bag isn't even filled. The Camelbak HAWG comes in at 5 kg — with an empty bladder. Maybe it is also because it is my first day on the tour. I don't do first days very well. In fact, I usually only settle in after 12 days.

'Learned real fast how to pick up the trailer after it swings into the ground today (had lots of practice). The spin I took around the City of Canning helped. The key in handling the trailer while going straight is to go with the side to side oscillation of the trailer and not to fight it, or worse, attempt to correct it. Inevitably, the correction will come too late and only serve to augment the effect, leading to shimmering, and a likely crash.

Pushed — a lot — today. The trailer is a pig on rocky, rutted, loose and gnarly singletrack. Having large, red ants swarm all over the trail with a topped trailer yields incredible incentive to right the 39.7 kg unit (attached to a 15 kg loaded bike) and move along. Fast. My expletive spewing reached new blends of linguistic hybridization bastardization creolism, freely mixing English, Hokkien, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Mandarin curses with religious imprecations. Swarms of bush flies round my head, crawling into my eyes, mouths, ears and nose, played buzzing chorus to my panting, half-choked, litany of abuse. "Reverend" Marilyn Manson has nothing on me: I can torture myself with make up anytime; he can try this.

Still, despite the buzzing #@!* bush flies, (regular) crashes, skinned knees, the beauty and the serenity of the trail astounds. Gravity has been a cruel mistress today, and I reckon fear she won't let up tomorrow either — I have a 200 m (656 ft) climb up Mundaring Weir Road to the touring route continuation of Munda Biddi Trail, opposite Asher Road in the morning.

The last time I pushed a bike this much was when I acquired Joanne, my first mountain bike, and I was brought to MacRitchie Reservoir via Singapore Island Country Club's parking lot and the pipeline from Chestnut Avenue. (Yes, it was still legal back then.) All the pushing and lifting today made me wish I spent more time lifting weights instead of writing ride reports last month (yes, like this  :-P  ).

When the trail reached a fork, giving a chance between a touring route and the regular route, for once, I chose the less painful option. Some sections of the regular route already totally kicked my ass — some people might deem me suicidal, but I'm not stupid. There are less exhausting ways to die. So, my apologies to Mr Frost here.

Thought I could spare myself a climb by camping at The Dell (altimeter reading 875 ft). From there, it is is a tolerable (South Buena Vista Road-like) climb to Asher Road (altimeter reading 1020 ft) the next morning. Alas, it was not to be. The Dell is a picnic and BBQ only area. I had to seek accommodation elsewhere. Now I know how this guy feels.

By then, I was pretty sure I won't make the next 28 km (17.5 miles) to Carinyah Campsite, even though it is rated from medium to easy, what with the pushing, crashing, and picture taking. So, with Carinyah Campsite out of the question, YHA Hostel Perth Hills Forest Lodge remained the only option. I am not well acquainted with wildlife lore here enough to camp outside designated areas (and, as a thoughtful commenter on my Topeak Bikamper mini-review colorfully noted, my tent is hardly suited for guerilla camping). So, I had my lunch and bemoaned the 200 m (656 ft) of elevation I am going to ride down to spend the night — only to grind back up the next morning.

At the hostel, a protective flyer (mother kangaroo) blocked access to the office for a good 10 minutes before I got tired of waiting and scaled a low wall to get around it. They have rooms available! Whinging over the 200 m of additional climbing (with a 39.7 kg trailer) can wait, I have a soft bed, carpet, hot shower, and kitchen facilities tonight! AUD$60 for the room and $10 for the key deposit. And oh, they take cash only. Liz, the thoughtful hostel manager, allocated me the room next to the emergency exit, and kindly allowed me to wheel Cloe into my room with me  :-)  Thank you!

Dinner was a hearty, double serving of spaghetti and sauce, while watching "The Simpsons"; and then later, less appetizingly, a mockumentary, "Kenny's World."

11:30 PM now, supposed to be asleep 1 hour ago. 'Taking Collin's (of About Bike Hire) advice, and hoping it works for me: "Take it easy in the beginning, and you will become stronger as the days pass." It was true for my Thailand-to-Singapore Ride; hopefully, it will be for this one as well.

Time to turn in.
-11:33 PM


Start  9:42 AM
End  5:40 PM
Total  7 hours 58 minutes

Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  1050 ft (320 m)
Distance  16.3 miles (26.1 km)
2 hours 39 minutes 42 seconds
Average speed  6.1 mph
Maximum speed  24.4 mph
Temperature  21° C (69.8° F)

Cateye Enduro 8
2 hours 27 minutes 44 seconds*
Average speed  10.8 km/h
Maximum speed  39 km/h
Distance  26.77 km
Cumulative distance  26.77 km (16.73 miles)

* = The Enduro 8 doesn't appear to keep time or give a speed reading below speeds of 3.6 km/h (2.25 mph). E.g. when I'm pushing Cloe and Bob up steep hills. Distance, however, continues to be tracked.


Anonymous said...

A discount for insanity. Hahahaha.

You're really living the life, aren't you, always wandering off for loooong rides like these? =p I kid...looks gorgeous, but no so much the dead parrot. *Shudder*

-ben said...

The cab driver asked me if I packed a gun. When I replied I have a couple of Swiss Army knives, he just shook his head and laughed. That's when he gave me that discount. (Hey, it was enough to pay for a box of band aids later :-P )

Ya, that poor bird. I wonder what happened...