Day 1: And she’s off!
Mundaring to Carinyah Hut
10:45am – 5pm 43km
After Mum and Dad dropped me off at the Munda Biddi trailhead (thanks Mum and Dad!), I found the first 8km were a fun, downhill gravel slide.I chose the touring route so my ups and downs weren’t too bad – and getting off the bike once or twice to push up wasn’t too bad either. The downhill single track sections were fun and long. My setup allowed for easy walking when needed (no panniers to get in the way).I was in good spirits. Riding by myself meant I discovered some new dance moves (while riding), and also I found myself a good stick to pull out every time I realised I was plummeting toward yet another spider’s web. It only took about 12 spiders to the face before I came up with that solution!Being from the Perth hills, I felt like this was just another good local ride – except I was fully loaded for 24 days of riding and carrying 8 days of food. Yes, the bike was heavy but not overwhelming. For those who live somewhere other than Western Australia, let me explain – this pea gravel is thick! Some of it is like large marbles, ready to make you slide; and some of it is almost like sand, where you sink into it and it takes a lot of effort to get through. This is where I recommend the plus tyres. But every option has pros and a cons. Gliding along between everyone else’s footprints is a smug pro for plus tyres.I pulled into camp (a whole hut all to myself) at 5pm and set up for the night. Dinner was ratatouille and pasta, which I had cooked myself and dehydrated. Delicious!As I was finishing up and the sun was going down, Duncan and Mark from Sydney pulled in. They had ridden from Midland and seemed like very experience adventurers. They kept me company that night, listening to their wealth of knowledge about cycle touring and other adventuring. I knew that at some point on this trip I would be sure to meet some inspiring people who would share all sorts of ideas, experiences and information. Who would have thought it would be on the first night! We talked bikes, locations and injuries; and then settled in for the night. Slept like a baby.
Day 2: It’s Day 2 and there’s already a towel shoved in my shorts
Carinyah Hut to Wungong Hut
8am – 3:30pm 35km
This morning I made some rules for myself. The top one being: never let myself get hungry. I spent the day devouring snacks while I rode. Homemade jerky, pretzels, M&Ms, nut mix and dehydrated apples were on the snack list for today.I also tried to be a purist and listen to the sounds of nature while crushing down on the pea gravel… I gave up after about 40 minutes and stuck my headphones in – listening to music and podcasts. Sorry nature.Wildlife encounter: I saw a feral pig! It was the biggest pig I’ve ever seen! Black and huge, but fortunately it ran off once it saw my bike. This thing would have weighed at least twice as much as me!Today’s track involved lots of downhill and then an almost vertical drop for about a kilometre which was so much fun when going north to south. (I went south to north on this section once and it wasn’t so much fun). The slow climb out of Canning Dam wasn’t too bad.At lunchtime I was harassed by a curious bee. It was only Day 2 and I was already negotiating with a bee. I’m pretty sure at some point I even said, “Nobody has to die today.”Getting back on the bike after lunch was tough and took a lot of effort. My thighs had started to burn and my bum… oh my poor bum. I couldn’t sit down. And my thighs burned too much to stay standing while riding. I ended up shoving a camp towel in my knicks for extra comfort. It worked and I rode into camp hoping that Duncan and Mark wouldn’t see me.Turns out Duncan and Mark had taken a wrong turn and ended up cycling 11 more treacherous kilometres than they needed to. Lucky they are built like the blue people from Avatar – seriously think these guys could do anything!(Note: You could definitely continue riding to Jarrahdale on Day 2)
Day 3: A cruise before the storm
Wungong Hut to Jarrahdale
8:45am – 12:15pm 30km
I knew this ride wouldn’t be too bad today. It was cruisy, the scenery was beautiful, and the track relatively flat compared to the last couple of days. I took my time. Took lots of photos. Talked to the wildlife. And ate a lot of snacks.I felt that this ride would give me some silence and time for self reflection. A recent break up and some other changes in my life to process. But nope. My brain is on a high while riding. Just enjoying the ride.I pulled into Jarrahdale and planned on booking into the Old Nurses’ Quarters (the Environmental Centre) for the night. Tomorrow is supposedly the hardest day on the track so I was looking for a good rest and shower (bonus!) It was booked out but, fortunately for me, the Jarrahdale Bed and Breakfast (located above the post office) was available! $50 for the night and the shower was amazing. I was also able to use their washing machine so the one set of clothes I had been wearing for the past 3 days had a good wash! (Yes I had other clothes, but hadn’t used them yet.)The Jarrahdale pub does a good steak burger too.Hang on… wasn’t I supposed to be on a treacherous, adventurous, minimalist bikepacking mission? Yeah well, it’s my holiday too – so why not?!I received text messages from Mark and Duncan confirming tomorrow is going to be rough. Better rest while I can!