Monday, November 24, 2008

Munda Biddi Trail: Stage 1: Epilogue

In the temple of science are many mansions . . . and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them there.

Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an Angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, it would be noticeably emptier but there would still be some men of both present and past times left inside . . .. If the types we have just expelled were the only types there were, the temple would never have existed any more than one can have a wood consisting of nothing but creepers . . . those who have found favor with the Angel . . . are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other than the hosts of the rejected.

What has brought them to the temple . . . no single answer will cover . . . escape from everyday life, with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from his noisy cramped surroundings into the silence of the high mountains where the eye ranges freely through the still pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.

         (Albert Einstein)

It's come to the end of another tour again.

The past 2 weeks have been blessèd:  initial trepidation (and more than a little self-doubt) gave way, with the passage of time and accumulated experience, to a quiet, brimming joy found only in self-sufficiency and solitude. Whilst dealing with people in the process of preparing of the trip, I detected nothing but warm glows of encouragement, and became recipient to bouquets of well-wishes and enthusiastic assurances that I would have the time of my life.

In the vastness of the bush, material trappings, comforts, and everyday conveniences were exchanged for pure, unadulterated luxury of the mind and soul. Alone in the bush, I had the time and space to luxuriate in thought, refine emotions, disengage the past, explore and ultimately, define myself. Riding your bike (or pushing) for days on end and encountering no one but yourself — having to look in the mirror if you want to see what a human being looks like — reveals what truly motivates you. Sweat, dust, blood, and grime: they distill you.

And, when I do meet people, in towns, resorts, retreats, by the roadside (save for one memorable instant), walking their dogs by trailside, or enjoying a barbecue by the creekside, they are always warm, friendly, and sometimes, like the gentleman with piercings in Dwellingup, more than a little quirky  :-D  It is all the more lovely then, that, while being generally helpful, folks only offer help when asked — they seem prescient of the privacy a traveler in the bush may be seeking.

Over the crunch and crackle of pea gravel, dry twigs and leaves, redolent of eucalyptus leaves hazing the skies blue in the sun; under the gurgling laughter of Kookaburras, the odd human-like cries of "twenty-eight!" by Australian Ringneck Parrots, and the sharp, swooping "Karee! Karee!" of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos; the endless, droning buzz of bush flies crawling into my ears, mouth, nose, eyes (and yes, heart); and the sharp, painful bites of march flies in the heat; I learned to detect and appreciate the security, the contingency furnished by each bubbling brook, each sparkling stream, each quiet dam, each halcyon lake. Through long days on the trail, I chased emus, kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies and rabbits; in camp, I chased flies, more flies, tarantulas, and centipedes from my food, my belongings, my bed.

And, like sol and Lisa, I learned to grow comfortable and make peace with my love of solitude. I feel most alive when I am alone, whether it be blasting down fire roads at 45 km/h (28 mph), dicey with a fully-loaded trailer, or pushing a 62 kg (136 lbs) bike-trailer at 3 km/h (1.9 mph) for hours on end up steep, long river valleys and remote mountainsides. I think most deeply when I am alone, whether it be scribbling cryptic notes (some of which I can never make head or tails of later), self-deprecating jokes, snide remarks, and drive-bys on frayed, dog-eared notepads with greasy, dust-caked leather gloves; summarizing the day's ride after a hearty dinner in camp, scribbling under the anemic glow of a single-AAA cell headlamp, snug in merino wool and Polartec™; or gorging on AUD$6 hot dogs on a bench on Hay Street, bottle of beer furtively clad in a brown paper bag. Solo, I love to be able to stop for precious minutes and hours, just to marvel at the simple beauty of a nameless wildflower; luxuriate to an unheard recital by a hidden brook; gape at the Dali-esque play of shadow and silhouette at sunset; bear silent witness to the stars by a flickering campfire; hold cheerful communion with sunrise; or, close my eyes and listen, just listen and be caressed by the unbound wind... and revel, revel, revel.

I had the time of my life. Perhaps I even had a little too much fun; I find myself wondering about Gary Arndt and Woodrow Landfair, Martin Adserballe and Janne Corax, where adventure is less a sojourn than a lifestyle.

I wonder what Stage 2 and 3 of the Munda Biddi Trail will have in store for me.

Deepest gratitude to the following, who made this ride possible/easier and/or contributed to its success:

God; Mom, Dad, Auntie Yok, Jay Wong; Peter Chew (Cycle Corner 6285 1468), Calvin Tay, Xavier Goh, Mabe (Campers' Corner), Chris Wee; Viki, Louis, Ahmad (Cycle Craft); Sulaiman (The Rebound Center 6743 9474); Ben (Chapter 2 Cycle); Gilbert (Hup Leong Co.); Miss Chua (Jinson Industries); Hon Shin, Dexter Ong; Erik Toh, Shaun Yip (Ascendant Motorsport); Nicholas Mok; Don (Fremantle Airport Shuttle); Jody, A.J. (Mainpeak); Dave, Jan, Calvin, Fai (About Bike Hire); Crystal Reed, Sarah Holland (Munda Biddi Foundation); Mike Wood, Tara, and staff of Mountain Design, Perth; Andrew Priest, Trudy & Gernot, Ron, Jamie, Darren Alff; Martin Adserballe, Janne Corax, and Happy Orange Guy.

         Thank you.

'Went down to About Bike Hire to return the Bob Ibex trailer. As it wasn't a Thursday, Dave, Jan, and their friendly dog, Maggie were not on duty :-( Anyways, you were absolutely right, folks! I had the time of my life :-D

After which it was time to pay a visit to the Munda Biddi Foundation office to thank Crystal and Sarah for their invaluable assistance in planning this ride.

While I was there, I got myself a membership, a fridge magnet...

...and since I already possess the short-sleeve variant from last year's ride, a long-sleeve jersey this time :-P

Back in Willetton boxing Cloe up for the flight back.

Here's a friendly tutorial on how to box your bike.

All ready to go.

Stage 1 spans from Mundaring to Collie. The first half of Stage 2, from Collie to Nannup, covering another 165.1 km (103.2 miles), is now complete. Click on the image above for an interactive map. Some GPS data files for the Munda Biddi Trail are available from the UWA Outdoor Club.

Too many times we try to describe the life with a row of digits, bring a moment down to statistics, measure success with the number of kilometers cycled. It became well established, that a bunch of numbers is required in every summary even if they express the spirit of the expedition in the worst possible way.
         (Jakub Postrzygacz)


Distance  411.48 km (257.18 miles)
Elevation climbed  14,110 ft (4301.8 m)
44 hours 57 minutes 41 seconds
Average speed  9.14 km/h (5.71 mph)
Maximum speed  28.5 mph (46 km/h)

Lowest temperature  7° C (44.6° F) (Days 6 and 7)
Highest temperature  32° C (89.6° F) (Day 6)

Shortest riding time  1 hour 44 minutes 47 seconds (Day 13)
Longest riding time  5 hours 25 minutes 37 seconds (Day 11)

Least distance  18.1 km (17.6 miles) (Day 8)
Most distance  55.18 km (34 miles) (Day 11)

Least climbing  230 ft (70.1 m) (Day 13)
Most climbing  1800 ft (548.8 m) (Day 11)

Bike:  2005 Merlin XLM custom
Size  52 cm (20.5 inch)  11 kg (24.2 lbs)
Trailer:  Bob Ibex 7.7 kg (17 lbs)
Lowest weight  54.9 kg (120.8 lb)
Highest weight  62.7 kg (137.9 lb)

187 cm (6' 2")
Start (November 11)  62 kg (136.4 lb)
End (November 23)  60 kg (132 lb)

Things I should have brought along

more cash
switch front and rear tires to 2.4" (or get a Surly Pugsley)
spray Plaster
Black Diamond™ Spot Headlamp
spare bungee net
3 spare 127 mm, straight 14 gauge spokes for Bob Ibex wheel
spare Bob Ibex wheel quick release
spare Bob Quick Release with bobbins (for hitching trailer)
clothes pegs
Solar panel (e.g. Brunton's excellent offerings)
battery charger (mains & solar DC)
a bigger knife
windscreen for stove
Brunton Flipsticks
Brunton Canister Stove Stand + "Cassette-Feu" portable range gas canister valve convertor
freestanding ultra-light 2-man tent (e.g. MSR's awesome stuff)
more packets of GU Energy Gel
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and/or SPOT
flamethrower (for the flies + nasty critters)
Ghostbusters vacuum machine (don't ask)

No mobile / cell phone was carried or ever used on this ride.

Ride conducted solo.

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