Day 8: Trust the little yellow signs
Lake Brockman to Yarri Hut
8 – 2:45 47km
I got up early this morning to beat the heat. I didn’t want another day of teetering on the fine edge of heat stroke. Today – my legs muscles burned more than normal – there was actually lots of pedalling! It looks like I’m finally, almost out of the shear, pea-gravelled filled, unridable climbs. Today was full of long winding paths sheltered by trees that blocked out my view of the sky. It was like riding through a Brother’s Grimm fairytale, with all the little bridges and unidentifiable animal noises.
I’ve been using an app called TrailForks to keep me on track – and using the paper maps as a backup. Trailforks uses GPS so I haven’t needed to be in reception to work out where I am and if I’m on track. Today, Trailforks does not accurately show the way, I spent a little bit riding in circles before I decided to put all my faith in the yellow signage and just keep riding. Thank you Munda Biddi Volunteers! The signage is so good!
I pulled into camp early because of my early start. You literally have to ride through the hut to keep on the track so you can’t miss it! The hut is half the size of the others but just as nice. It’s resting on a steep drop.
I didn’t see a single person or car today once I left the tourist park this morning. The hut is so silent and no mobile reception. This ride is like going on one of those “retreats” – it is good for the soul. Reading the Yarri Hut Entry Logbook someone has written – “You can’t be sad while riding a bike” – true words PJ!
The mosquitos are intense out here. I can’t believe bringing a mosquito net was a last minute decision for me. It is absolutely necessary if you plan on sleeping in the huts. Do not underestimate the mosquito net!
Day 9: The end of Map 3 and a little hiatus
Yarri Hut to Wellington Dam
7 – 11:30am 40km
Today, Friday, is my last day of riding for the week. I rode out from Yarri Hut, past Collie to Wellington dam to meet my Dad who then will drive me back to Perth. I have a wedding to attend this weekend and then the plan is to be dropped back on the track (in the same spot) on Monday morning.
I did a stocktake of all my food and supplies last night. My gas is almost empty and the food I had packed in my bike for the first 9 days is almost gone. My calculations were almost perfect!
I promised to meet Dad at 1pm so I got up in the dark, packed up, ate breakfast as the sun rose and set off feeling like I had a mission to complete this morning. I decided it was a race. Can I make Wellington Dam (with no idea of the track conditions) before 1pm?
4km in to the trail, I hit a Munda Biddi sign outlining a diversion that will add another 4km to the journey due to Timber farming. This diversion would lead down a dirt road and then onto Mornington road (which is more like a highway) before leading back through the bush and onto the original track.
I pumped up my tyres to a higher than normal pressure (usually I’m on 14-15PSI), said a quiet sorry to my wrists who would take the brunt of the dirt road corrugations while handling my non-suspension bike and started to roll. Almost as soon as I started to pick up speed, a line of massive trucks holding huge tree trunks started to pass me spraying me with dust and rocks. I felt like I was in that scene in Final Destination 2 (you know the one) – so I put on my safety glasses and kept riding. I was in a race!
Then I hit Mornington Road. The road had almost no shoulder to ride on. I was right on the edge between the road and a steep drop off with cars zooming past me at 110km an hour. It was 8:30 in the morning, probably the busiest time of day. My hands clenching the handlebar to keep a straight line. I had somehow knocked my iphone as I turned onto the road and Spotify decided to put Britney Spears’ ‘Pieces of Me’ on repeat through my headphones. I was too afraid to take my hands of my handlebars to change the song while riding on the edge of two potentially painful outcomes so I let it play 4 times until the diversion led me off the road and back on the track.
This section of the track was incredible, like something out of a movie. I sped along on it looking at the huge trees that lined it and the leaf covering the ground. And I was moving along! I have never ridden so fast. This section between Yarri and Collie has to be my favourite section so far. Over railway, through forest, through powerline corridors, through farmland.
I got to ‘3-Ways” – a split in the track with 3 signs pointing in opposite directions, the one pointing behind me says “To Dwellingup”, the one to the left says “To Collie” and the one to my right says “To Donnybrook”. I stopped for a break here – I was 30km in and way ahead of schedule. I didn’t realise how much I would love pushing my body and the limit of what I thought I could do on this bike.
As I was having a drink, a man just appeared, coming from the Collie path on a 26” mountain bike. He asked me if I was doing the whole thing and then admitted he knew who I was because two blokes a couple days ago had mentioned I was behind them. Mark and Duncan! Spreading the word with the locals! Haha! After a good chat, we turned our separate ways – he riding back to Collie, and myself turning onto the “To Donnybrook” track to continue my race.
I texted Dad and said I will meet him at the new time of 11:30. Ofcourse then the track got more uphill and steeper but I pedalled so hard and pulled into Wellington Dam carpark beating Dad in a race he didn’t know he was part of. He fed me Subway and took me back to Perth. I’m over a third of way through my journey to Albany and I feel like I’m just getting started!
To be continued!