Sunday, November 23, 2008

Munda Biddi Trail: Stage 1: Day 13

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.
         (Charles Monroe Schulz)

Journal entry

After deciding that doing the first half of Stage 2 is a no-go, I had a looooong shower. You know? The sort where you waste tens, if not hundreds, of gallons of potable water that might have meant the difference between life and death in some godforsaken, desiccated country, but instead you just sit and doze off for the better part of an hour under what feels like endless, warm, cleansing, soothing rain? And find a French Anti-doping Agency (AFLD) agent waiting for you at the door when you're done.

By the time I'm done — that and washing the day's laundry, Bob, Cloe (disassembled), and all the bags, of mud (to increase my chances of being accepted on public transport) — the clock read 12:38 AM. Time to figure out how to get back to Perth.

There is no passenger train service from Collie to Perth, but there is one from Bunbury, about 55 km to the west — an early morning train. A couch line serves Collie and Bunbury; the bus leaves before 5 AM. However, according the the locals, tickets must be purchased from the tourist bureau. The good news: the tourist bureau is open on Sundays. The bad news: it opens at 9 AM.

Another night at Collie Motel costs AUD$85. The bus fare is AUD$45. No one knows if tickets can be purchased at the bus. I called a local taxi company for a quote on chartering a station wagon to Bunbury: $100. A trifle pricey for a 55-km trip compared to the $66 fare from Willetton, Perth to Mundaring. Then again, I'm calling at 2 AM for a 4:45 AM pick up, and the gentleman on the phone even looked up the train time table for me.

View Larger Map

I made the booking.

The driver had already arrived when I started lugging the stuff down at 4:36 AM. As the cab belongs to her husband, she had no idea how to remove the lower half of the rear cage and fold down the seats, so I had to remove Cloe's rear wheel. Except that for my Merlin™, it necessitated deflating the rear tire. Ever experienced something you didn't want to do but had to, just to get through with it? It's like learning Chinese (Mandarin) all over again.

More trail access info from Trudy & Gernot here.

Coalfields Road (Route 107) to Bunbury was dark, foggy, and deserted and climbs 200 m (656 ft) in a long series of dips.

The 300+ m (984+ ft) descent to South Western Highway (State Route 20) was incredible, more so at night. The 3 lads from Collie were right: it is one big, long, and steep downhill after the long climb. The authorities even implemented mandatory brake inspections for all trucks over 22.5 tons, as well as built a runaway truck arrester ramp.

In the video, you can see the Bunbury's lights in the distance. The elevation at the end of the video is 16.5 m (54 ft).

FWIW, Dave and Jo Whitney rode this leg on a tandem in the spring of 2006.

'Arrived at Bunbury Passenger Terminal, Wollaston, at 5:40 AM. 'Can't believe I managed to reinstall both wheels; re-inflate the rear tire; hitch the trailer; reload the bags onto the trailer; all within 5 minutes. Nothing succeeds like desperation (with due apologies to Mr. Wilde).

When it came to my turn at the Transwa ticket counter, I was informed that trailers aren't allowed on the trains  :-(

Pre-bookings are also required for bicycles  :-(  :-(

But just this once, as the train is not full, they will make an exception for me  :-)

One catch: I have under 5 minutes to unhitch my trailer and bring Cloe and Bob onboard as the train isn't going to wait for me. They say unhitching a fully-loaded — 32 kg (70.4 lb) — trailer is impossible. Well, you know what they say about pressure: given enough of it, you'll come out a diamond... or a nutcase.

Cloe, Bob, Happy Orange Guy, and me are on the train.


The bike and trailer are safely locked in carriage number 2. Everything was done in a hurry to meet the train's schedule so I didn't get a chance to take a picture. Once onboard, Xavier, the friendly train conductor cheerily informed me that I was very lucky. If this was a weekday, I would have a snowball's chance in hell of making it on the train, what without a booking, and saddled with a bike and trailer. I looked at Happy Orange Guy dangling from Cloe's saddle, through the glass, and smiled.

7:41 AM.
'Only slept 50 minutes last night. 'Gonna try and grab 40 minutes of sleep before the train arrives in Perth.

'Arrived in Perth at 8:30 AM.
Somehow I managed to re-attach the Bob trailer to Cloe without removing the load (not recommended).  *grin*

Upon exiting the station, I realized I forgot to bring the bike map for Perth, Fremantle (PDF) and Stirling.

It shows the way to Willetton.

I think Captain Picard is getting tired of me.

'Re-entered the station and went to TransPerth information counter, but they had no bike map for me. 'Got them to direct me to the nearest bike shop.

Start from Perth city  8:55 AM
Altimeter reading  520 ft (158.5 m)
Temperature  23° C (73.4° F)

'Rode a couple blocks to the bike shop and discovered that they are closed on Sundays. 'Had a chat with a nice chap waiting at a bus stop outside the shop. It turns out that he's a commercial diver. 'Had a nice chat sharing diving adventures (that's one pursuit I haven't indulged in for a while).

Rain came down in brief, heavy, intermittent showers.

Then, I noticed a backpacker's lodge, Globe Backpackers, across the street.

'Walked in; bought a cup of hot chocolate from the machine, promptly scalded my hand, achieving dork status; obtained a general map of the local area, and voilà! located the whereabouts of About Bike Hire, the bike shop I rented the Bob Ibex trailer from — open 7 days a week.

Plotted a route and started riding toward it. Shortly after, I pulled over due to a grinding sound and discovered that I installed the front wheel the other way after the cab ride this morning. More importantly, there was brake dive on non-drive side brake pad; conversely, the drive side brake pad crept up, ripping into the tire sidewall.

Next time, I will store my long-arm 5 mm Allen key in a more accessible location. I.e. not at the bottom of the Bob Dry Sack. The shorter arm of the Topeak Alien DX 5 mm Allen key generates too little torque for this application. Either that or I should spend more time in front of the computer as a hardcore keyboard pro-rider to build up strength in my fingers.

A little later, Riverside Drive and Swan River.

Leaving the road, I rode along the paths of Langley Park.

Reaching Point Fraser...

...I spied some kayakers off Heirisson Island.

Behind me, a cyclist tows a 2-wheeled trailer.

About Bike Hire.

I dropped in to purchase the much-needed map, but alas, they didn't carry it.

With the maps available at hand, the friendly staff there assisted in helping me stitch a route to Willetton.

They settled on the maps in the Armadale to Perth booklet.

Rides 7, 6, 5 would lead me to Willletton.

From Fraser Point, the route crosses the Causeway, over Heirisson Island, and then heads west to South Perth.

Then, paralleling the Kwinana Freeway, it drops south to Mount Pleasant.

East from there is Willetton.
Total route distance  23.9 km (14.9 miles).


The map on the store brochure shows part of Victoria Park. Enough, I figure, to get me to Albany Highway. From there, I would dead reckon my way to Willetton with a compass and the crude, general map on the back of the Armadale to Perth booklet. This way sounds more interesting, if not shorter.

After crossing the Swan River and Heirisson Island. I attempted to follow Bike Route SE26, but quickly lost it.

'Got on to Albany Highway. Breakfast being so meagre (with my energy expenditure, a Mrs. Mac beef pie and a cup of coffee on Transwa does count as meagre), I stopped by Turkish Oven Kebab Shop to refuel.

As I ravished a supersized plate of PETA's worst nightmare, the waitress / cashier / barista stands outside taking a smoke break fogging Cloe, Bob, Happy Orange Guy, and assorted luggage free of stowaway insects with her cancer stick.

When I was done, activity in the store and kitchen actually halted as the staff followed me outside to watch how I was going to start off and ride up the uphill section of Albany Highway. Furiously spinning away on a gearing of 22 x 34, I began to understand how a hamster in an exercise wheel on display in a pet store felt  :-P

Hey! A Toyota Mark III Supra!

'Eventually reached and got on Leach Highway (southwest bound). I became disoriented at the junction with Manning Road and resumed heading east. 'Ran into Albany Highway again and backtracked.

Back at the junction, unsure of which way to go on Leach Highway to Willetton, another friendly local pointed me the right direction (southwest).

Blue Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in bloom.

After an uncomfortable crossing on Shelley Bridge (Riverton Bridge is much safer), I turned south on Vahland Avenue for the final approach to Willetton.


Il faut souffrir pour être belle.


The true stars of the ride.

         Thank you.


Start  2:45 AM
End  2:45 PM
Total  12 hours 0 minutes

Cateye AT-100
Altimeter reading at Willetton  525 ft (160 m)
Elevation climbed  230 ft (70 m)
Distance  13.5 miles (21.6 km)
1 hours 44 minutes 47 seconds
Average speed  7.7 mph
Maximum speed  24.4 mph
Temperature  10° C - 24° C (50° F - 75.2° F)

Cateye Enduro 8
1 hours 40 minutes 42 seconds*
Average speed  13 km/h
Maximum speed  39.5 km/h
Distance  21.95 km  [my way is shorter by 1.95 km!]
Cumulative distance  411.48 km (257.18 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.

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