Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Munda Biddi Trail: Stage 1: Day 2

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.
         (Henri-Frédéric Amiel)

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

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

There were 3 other lodgers at the hostel that night: one from Perth; one from New Zealand; the other, a reticent, surly fellow I mentally dubbed, "The Axe Murderer," unknown. At 5 AM, a Japanese lady showed up, knocking on the main door. She thought that YHA Perth Hills = Perth city  0_o   The New Zealander kindly let her put her luggage in his room while she searched for alternative accommodation within the city. He even gave her a ride to Mundaring and made arrangements to pick her up after 5 PM.

My back is a little sore today. Set off at 10:50 AM. Filled both 22 fl. oz. water bottles. Also filled the Camelbak HAWG with 3 liters of water. The butt-o-meter duly informed me of the significant difference between having 5 kg (11 lbs) and 8 kg (17.6 lbs) on my back. Temperature  21° C (69.8° F)

Entering the Shire of Kalamunda and beginning the 200 m (656 ft) climb to the trailhead I left yesterday. Fun fact: from West Coast Highway, South Buona Vista Road climbs 33.5 m (110 ft) over 1.9 km to the summit at Kent Ridge Road.

'Stopped by Mundaring Weir to grab a couple of shots. More info. Pictures of its construction here.

Lake C. Y. O'Connor, formed by Mundaring Weir.

'Didn't realize the kind of riding I'm engaged in until a curious couple asked me where am I heading to and how far it is. When I answered, "Oh, Collie. About 10 days through the bush," the husband went, "Now that's a serious rider, dear. He answers in days, not kilometers."  :-P

Happy Orange Guy (H.O.G.) taking in the view.

A sign that should have been posted (see below).

11:40 AM, 4.49 km from the hostel, a pudgy jerk, with a shaved head and black sunglasses (a splitting image of Jesse Ventura, 30 years younger, and 60 pounds heavier) buzzed me with his Toyota Land Cruiser, and then intentionally clipped my bike, causing me to crash.

As I lay on the road, he came to a stop 10 meters (33 ft) ahead, rolled down his window, stuck his head back and yelled, "You aren't fucking impressing anyone, dude! Get the fuck off my road, fucking fuck face!" Then, he took off.


'Never thought I'm impressing anyone. I guess some people are just naturally insecure, big V8 SUV or not. Perhaps he's a relative of Dr. Christopher Thompson (Update: convicted 2nd Nov 2009; sentenced to 5 years in state prison on 8 Jan 2010). Perhaps he might end up like this driver someday. After all, not a few MTBR riders pack heat whilst riding; perhaps there are like-minded folks here too? And a Land Cruiser presents a pretty easy moving target...

Perhaps, perhaps.

Then again, he could have had one too many run-ins with the likes of this sort of riders. (This is why I do not support, approve, or associate with Critical Mass riders — their mindless, asinine, infantile, and wholly ineffectual, lemming antics put me in danger.)

Further up. In case anyone wonders what the insides of a Kangaroo look like. (Did Mr Overweight Landcruiser Guy do this? I can't tell.)

Trailhead of the regular Munda Biddi Trail. The touring route trailhead is another 145 ft (44 m) higher.

12:20 PM. Back at the junction with Asher Road. I arrived from the north, on the right, yesterday.

9.17 km (5.73 miles) from YHA Hostel, Perth Hills.
Elevation reading  1100 ft (335.4 m)
Elevation climbed  700 ft (213.4 m)

55 minutes 40 seconds of climbing to get here.

Temperature  20° C (68° F)

Back on the trail.

Pea gravel, when dry — can be up to 30 cm (1 ft) deep — makes ascents and descents hazardous and exhausting, at best; impossible, at worst. It is times like these that make one wish for a Surly Pugsley. It has no suspension fork though  :-(  Perhaps Fox could offer an option for it. After all, they already have a 29er suspension fork. All they need are wider lowers and upper stanchion fork-crown assembly.

Slippery summer surfaces!

What’s round and brown and sized between a ballbearing and a Malteser and gives even the most experienced off-road cyclist a test of skills and courage? Western Australia’s signature pea gravel! The surface of the Munda Biddi Trail, as it traverses the Darling Scarp, is predominantly compacted laterite. In the wetter months, the gravel becomes compacted but during the dry summer weather these pebbles are loose and slippery to cycle on. There is no sure-fire way to deal with pea gravel, but there are a few steps you can take to avoid gravel rash and prepare yourself for a summer trip on the trail.

Swap those semi slicks with the widest knobbly tyre you can get. The deep tread and large gaps between the knobs over the whole tyre will provide the best grip on a loose surface. Tyre pressure is also a factor when dealing with gravel because a tyre that's too hard will skid on gravel. Let out some air and your tyres will flex and grip the trail better.

Speed can be an advantage because you tend to float over the gravel. Going too slowly can give the tyres a chance to dig into the gravel, which forces you to turn too sharply and sends you in a direction you don't want to go. Maintain your momentum and keep pedalling as you go through the gravel. Moving your weight back over the back wheel helps control the bike. Using your front brake is usually important because it provides a greater percentage of your stopping power, but in loose gravel use your front brake sparingly and gently, and avoid it altogether if you start to skid.

Panniers and trailers will only make the challenge of negotiating gravel more difficult. If you're going on an overnight adventure, try to enlist a support crew to carry your gear, or call one of the tour operators that offer drop-off and pick-up services.

Practice will make perfect and your confidence will grow so soon it will be second nature to ride in gravel. Be proud that you've experienced something unique to off-road cycling in all the world. You'll be happy to know that the further south the trail goes, the less gravel there will be to contend with.
         ("Slippery summer surfaces!"  Munda Biddi Messenger [Perth] 8 (Summer 2004-05): 3.)

The heart of the forest?

Nice, but unrideable.

Didn't notice my camera settings changed (from all the shaking and bumping). Grr... Anyways, time for some singletrack.

With the trailer, I had to remember to steer early (and wide), and exit late.

'Finally realized the camera settings were wrong here.

I like this one better.

Silly me lacked the confidence to take the rock ramp with the trailer; I would have crossed this in a matter of seconds, and with hardly any effort.

Instead, I chose to push and pull.

An abandoned car (with its engine missing its cylinder head) that I passed the last time.

Holy crap!

A trail obstacle I didn't expect.

Grass monster or Viking skiff? You decide.

The trail briefly skirts the edge of a farm at Paterson Road before heading east.

I'm gonna kill you, Bob!
How many #@*%! wounds are you gonna give me?

(Yes, I've named my trailer, "Bob." The male moniker makes it easier to hurl verbal and emotional abuse at it.)

2:50 PM
17.09 km (10.68 miles) from YHA Hostel, Perth Hills.
2nd crash.

Looks can be deceiving.

This part wasn't rideable.

Back on rideable ground.

3rd crash.

Bob must be a treehugger. He likes me to hug trees too. I'm working on fending off his (constant) invitations.

One of the countless unnamed roads along the way.

Entering Pickering Brook.

At Pickering Brook, a utility truck driver patiently waited for me to compose and snap a picture of Cloe and Bob across the road before moving off with a thumb's up.

Outside the 2nd house (with farm machinery visible in the compound) along Kings Mill Road, a medium-sized dog (black and the size of an adult Labrador) barked and came running out. While he only barked occasionally, he tried to approach me. I didn't know if he was just curious and wanted to play or what — he could very well have the game of "If I catch ya, I'll bite ya" in mind — so I put the bike between me and the (hopefully) friendly dog and walked a couple hundred meters until he stopped following.

Leaving Pickering Brook (and Kings Mill Road).

Back on the trail.

4:44 PM and I have 10 - 11 km more to go. It certainly gives the self-serving, amorous, backhanded praise / command, "Don't stop!" a new — if equally desperate — meaning.

Entering the New Victoria Reservoir Protection Zone.

Flying solo... the silence of the forest.

Check out the skid marks. Can you tell which belongs to the trailer?

5:25 PM.
4th crash of the tour.

Not Bob's fault this time. A horse fly got inside my open jersey and began slashing at my left nipple with its pair of scimitars. Now, I know I'm getting skinny and dark enough to resemble a working boy/girl/boy-girl from Pattaya, but I assure you, there's nothing on my bones but gnarled jerky.

Cute trail sign. I didn't see others like it on the remainder of the tour.

6:13 PM.
Nature's bar code scanner.

Wider view.

From the east, via Dale Road, Carinyah Mountain Bike Trail (15.7 km) joins the Munda Biddi Trail here.

6:20 PM.

33.94 km (21.2 miles) later, the junction to Carinyah Campsite.

Less than a 100 meters in, nestled within a grove of Sheoak trees (Allocasuarina fraseriana)...

Carinyah Campsite.

Open fires are not allowed.
(No, that pile of wood has nothing to do with me.)

Timber sleeping platforms.

On the east side, the ladder's missing.

Bike maintenance section of the hut. All of them are equipped with an extendable, 360-degree rotatable, bike maintenance stand. Some possess service racks. One rider, David, found the maintenance stand very useful.

Precipitation is channeled from the roof of the hut into these water tanks. There are two at each campsite. The last sentence of the paragraph under the sub-heading, "Water," in Trudy and Gernot's write up rocks. Further on in the ride, I discovered bullets in other structures too, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Bicycle storage shelter.

Self-composting toilet.

Curiously, unlike the other huts I visited later in the tour, the logbook at Carinyah Campsite was not enclosed in a waterproof plastic tub.

Life is best enjoyed with a sense of dark irony.


Today has been a hard day; not as hard physically like yesterday, where I was brutally awakened to the reality of lugging a Bob trailer with 32 kg (70.4 lbs) of load up river valleys, but mentally. Being buzzed and — deliberately — clipped by a 2449 kg (5388 lbs) Toyota Land Cruiser; having expletives hurled at you as you lie in the middle of the road, right foot trapped under the combined weight of the bike and trailer after you crash, is an interesting test of one's tenacity. Thankfully, apart from a gashed right knee, some scrapes on my right forearm, and a bruised right hip, I didn't come out too battered. I don't recall any dangerous wildlife advisories mentioning this guy. In other news, the Backpacker's Pantry Chicken Cashew Curry is pretty good, if a little spicy.

The logical thing to do in the aftermath was lobby for carry and conceal firearm permits for cycle tourers in Australia treat and protect the open wounds so that the plague of flies in the bush (solo? Who said anything about solo? I've 10 to 20 flies buzzing round my head at any one time.) won't turn my superficial injuries into a more serious one.

Despite a large breakfast of Oatmeal raisin porridge (Back Country Porridge Supreme), the lunch of 3 muesli bars proved insufficient for today. By 5 PM, I was bonking. Where conditions were too difficult, I walked. Well, I pushed. Pushing a 39.7 kg (87.3 lbs) trailer up hills was harder than I thought. Here and there, kangaroos and wallabies paused to watch a lanky Asian dude in lycra scream unprintable obscenities and threaten to kill someone named Bob.

The trailer tracks pretty well, but on loose surfaces — e.g. pea gravel — it tends to fishtail, sometimes causing crashes. 16-inch wheels tend to get caught on small obstacles. E.g. tree roots, rocks, ruts, rendering pushing difficult. On a titanium frame, the trailer's tendency to oscillate seem compounded, sometimes developing into shimmering and a crash. Logs — big logs — across the trail are a nightmare for a loaded trailer.

Carinyah Campsite is rather nice. I expected to find company but discovered that I am the only one here for the night. That meant I got to utilize the entire campsite for myself  :-D

Ravenous, I inhaled 3 servings of mashed potato before following up with 2 servings of Cashew Chicken Curry Rice.

There was a full moon that night; I was wondering where the light was coming from, given that this place has no electricity. After dinner, snugly ensconced in a set of Icebreaker 200 base layer apparel, warm cuppa in hand, I turned off the lights, sat back, and watched Nature's light show; watched the moonlight turn the forest into a phantasmagorical landscape of light, shadow, and sound: trees and bushes sheathed in shimmering silver and glimmering gold; here and there, wallabies, kangaroos, and other wildlife — named, unnamed, and the unnamable — forage for food, eyes in the bush catching the light, glinting like gems, winking like stars; and overhead, the cacophonous call of unseen wings, death-dealing, swoop darkly.

Bike issues

Lubricated the trailer hitch-bobbin interface to reduce noise; squeaking ruins the silence of riding in the forest. Lubed Bob Ibex suspension shaft as well. Saddle tilted upwards from bumpy descents. Stem slightly offset to the left (from the crash on Mundaring Weir Road).

35 kilometers (21.9 miles) tomorrow. The Terrain Profile Chart marks 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) as "challenging." I expect a lot of pushing. 'Best have an early night and an early start.
-10:36 PM


Start  11 AM
End  6:25 PM
Total  7 hours 25 minutes

Cateye AT-100
Altimeter reading at Carinyah Campsite  1095 ft (333.8 m)
Elevation climbed  1780 ft (542.7 m)
Distance  20.9 miles (33.44 km)
4 hours 1 minutes 14 seconds
Average speed  5.2 mph
Maximum speed  28.5 mph
Temperature  18° C - 21° C (64.4° F - 69.8° F)

Cateye Enduro 8
3 hours 49 minutes 54 seconds*
Average speed  8.9 km/h
Maximum speed  46 km/h
Distance  34.07 km
Cumulative distance  60.86 km (38.04 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.


QQ*librarian said...

Wah rau, is the chap who knocked you down racist or just plain mean? I though Australians are supposed to be nice - but then again, there are all kinds of jerks in the world, irregardless of nationalities.

-ben said...

Maybe his wife ran off with a hot and buff cyclist.


QQ*librarian said...

Ah, that explains his sick behaviour alright. :-D

Anonymous said...

Let's play a game of 'Shoot the A**hole Driver'. What's your weapon of choice? Seriously, I thought only Singaporean drivers were this antagonistic.

On another note, maybe tree hugging is better than poo hugging? =)

-ben said...

What's your weapon of choice?

Long range = Knight Stoner's uber sexy SR-25.
Short range = Micro Uzi

The cheesy music on the Uzi video is just too surreal. Ahhh... zen!

maybe tree hugging is better than poo hugging?

Nearly running over that pile of "ministerial brains" was rather traumatic. I can't imagine trying to scrap off all that patriotism and genius with a twig -- in the absence of water.