Day 4: A day to write home about!

Jarrahdale to Dandalup Hut
8:45 – 4:30
Advertised: 35km
Me: 45km

With the warnings on everyone’s blogs about today, the messages I got from Duncan and Mark who had left the day before, and then the look up and down from my B&B host, wincing and quietly saying, “Yeah, you’ll make it,” – I had a very different idea of how today was going to pan out.

Don’t get me wrong, today was difficult terrain – deep gravel, and sand surfaces, and extra long and steep walking sections. But I trained on this stuff! I trained by skull-dragging my fully loaded bike to the top of Lesmurdie Falls, to the top of Whistlepipe Gully, to riding off track through the bush around my own (very similar) area. Without trying to sound (but feeling) superior – this is what I came for! And it was awesome!!!

Leaving Jarrahdale, about 5km in you ride down some very fun steep track into Serpentine Valley. I saw over a dozen kangaroos hop with me for a section. Then you climb out the other side. I exceeded my expectations and rode up most of it. Then walked the rest once my tyres lost traction. Having the bike packing setup makes walking your bike a piece of cake. I passed trail bike riders and trail runners on this hill and I waved good morning. I made it to the top of this section in an hour (from Jarrahdale) and, after dancing at the top to congratulate myself, I tucked into a small apple pie I bought from the shop.

The ride continued, riding over some long puddle sections (which would be pretty hardcore in winter). There was quite a technical rocky downhill section that I completed flawlessly… and then decided to film it! So I stuck my camera in a tree and climbed to the top to have another go. Of course I slipped and fell the second time. Too much pressure!

About 3km on from this I realised that I had lost my sandles. I rode back looking for them and found them exactly where I fell. I then rode on and stopped for lunch where the track meets a farm fence. It was all peaceful and beautiful until the shooting started. Someone firing off a gun in the paddock next door. Then I heard another motorbike on the track and decided it was probably a good time to leave – my serenity had been interrupted and I didn’t want to be cleaned up by a trail bike rider. I didn’t know it at the time but my Dad, who was coming back this way on a motorbike ride from Albany, had decided to try and find me in the bush (using the “find my location” on Google Maps that I had set up before I left in case of an emergency). He missed me by 600m because I had moved on to avoid his bike!

Up some more steep fire tracks that could not be ridden – I must have lost a 1.5L water bottle on this section but didn’t notice for another 5km. Lucky today wasn’t hot and I prayed that the tanks at the hut would be full.

The forest opened up and all of a sudden I was at North Dandalup Dam! Already?! My map says I only have 5km to go! It was 3pm and I felt so full of energy (I blame those Vital Greens powders I’ve been drinking at lunchtime each day). I rode along the dam wall checking out the scenery. But I couldn’t find any Munda Biddi signage. I misread the map and headed down the steep winding road to the picnic overflow section below the wall. I realised my mistake once I got down there.

While filling up my water bottles mentally preparing myself to head back up the road, a friendly man (whom I later found out was named Lionel), asked me if I wanted “a tow”. I laughed and said, “No thank you,” but was then asked, “You are doing this for an adventure, yes?” I was. I am! So he and his family tied two beach towels together, secured one end by shutting it into the boot of their car… and I just held on! You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face the whole way up. And then all night! I survived and rode out the pure adrenaline to the most beautiful hut on the trail so far.

Today was full of long singletrack, slight downhill sections linked up by dirt roads and fire trails. This is a mountain biker’s paradise! And the grand finale was a winding, lush green, single track that led me to a hut overlooking the valley and all the way to the coast. Possibly up there with best days in my life so far.

 

Day 5: The mental game
Dandalup Hut to Dwellingup
46km
8:45 – 4:30

I woke up to my morning alarm, which is my stomach grumbling. I just can’t stop eating! Muesli, peanut butter and coffee for today.
Almost immediately after leaving Dandalup Hut, the scenery changed. The pea gravel path was broken up with sections of compact dark dirt, the trees got closer together, the colours changed. Perth Hills became the South West within a couple kms. It took me an hour to ride the first 3kms. It wasn’t difficult physically. I stopped to pump my tyres, I stopped to take my jacket off, I stopped to re-strap my left knee (that keeps swelling up), I just stopped. I struggled. Maybe it’s Monday? I sat on the ground and stretched. Tried to psych myself up. Last night was the first time I had ever camped on my own – without Tesla, my dog or other people. Maybe that’s it? Nah, I loved it.
I put on some music and then I just…cried. Woah. I guess it’s Day 5. You don’t do this every day. Well I’ve never done this before. I didn’t try to pull myself together. I’m alone, in the middle of nowhere – if I want to cry- I damn well can do it. Then when that got exhausting, I started pedalling.  I pushed myself but I pedalled all the way to lunch without stopping. No reception almost the entire day. I hadn’t seen a single person for almost 24 hours. And the track was beautiful. Hard. But beautiful. Signage got a little bit “relaxed” after Oakley Dam. Seeing those little yellow signs pinned to a tree comes with a sense of relief every time. Every time I start heading down a steep rocky fun section – a little voice in my head says “I hope this is the right way…because you will have to climb out if it’s not!” But then I see a sign and I can relax.

I had originally planned on camping at Marrinup but my battery pack wasn’t charging fast enough with my Dynamo hub (I’m probably going too slow), my water was running low and I needed real food and a shower. So I continued on another 5km to Dwellingup. I smelt Dwellingup before I saw it. Smelt like cooking and food. This little forest town is so pretty and I rode in circles a bit until I decided on getting to the caravan park. Even the caravan park is stunning. And nobody was around – being a Monday.
I set up my mosquito net, my tarp, my bivy and sleep kit and then rode back into town for some food. I felt like I was almost going to pass out from hunger. I ordered two meals and a beer from the pub and after checking in with my parents (group messages are so weird) rolled back to camp and passed out on top of my sleeping bag. It was the most comfortable sleep I’ve had so far.