Day 23: Along the Southern coast
Jinung Beigabup Hut – Denmark
9:15 – 3 48km
Last night woke up to something crawling across my face. Something big. Then I felt my legs. They hurt. This hurt continued through the day. Surely after 22 days of riding, my legs should be tough as nails!!? But no, the fatigue in my legs made it harder than it should have been.
I rode out on some sandy single track from the hut and hit a road. The winding road passed through winery country. I met Megan who was passing me. She and I spoke for about 10 minutes (she was on her way to work on a Surly Long Haul Trucker) before I realised I knew of her. She is a friend of Sven who did my bike fit in Perth before my trip! Small world! Then only about 5km down, past some farms I met Jane. Jane is from Queensland and riding the Munda Biddi – she’s got 2 weeks to get as far as she can. I felt her set up put my set up to shame. Absolutely minimalist. It was inspiring!
After a few hills the track hits the coast at Greens Pool. Tourists everywhere but beautiful surroundings. The sand was glaringly white (I lost my sunglasses 3 days ago) and the ocean was that amazing blue that reminds you that you are looking at the water between Australia and Antarctica.
This is when the track gets interesting. It leads you through some cool undergrowth while in Williams Bay National Park. There are so many small steep hills, I guess because it’s dunes on the coast, and on every hill rise you get another view of the stunning coastline to remind you that you are on the edge of the earth.
The hills then continue after Williams Bay National Park – slowly climbing towards the wind farm. Did you know the two windmills power 56% of Denmark’s electricity usage? They also don’t make much noise. Don’t let the maps fool you into thinking it’s a flat day – those small hills are exhausting! It’s all paved though.
I had lunch at Lights Beach. I leant my bike up against lookout benches. Just as I sat down another cyclist, Anna, came around the corner and straight up to me. We shook hands and she says, “Going East or West?” I was confused – the Munda Biddi is known as North and South. I replied “uhhh South?” and she goes, “Huh? I’ve come from Wollongong?” Woah. We had a great laugh. She’s ridden on her road bike from NSW, across the Nullarbor and heading towards Perth taking the scenic route. We talked about the differences between road riding and trail riding. She’s also been around the world on her bike. I was so interested until she told me she refuses to go on dirt roads and hates camping. How do you see Western Aus without going off road?! Also the thought of riding next to road trains made me shudder. Each to their own. Much respect for her!
The long trek into town after the great climb to the wind farm was on pathway and flat. I rode past about a hundred black swans and past little inlet islands begging to be explored. The town felt more suburban than other towns I had been through, and houses on the coast look so different to ones inland. Once I was in town I realised it felt less like a country town and more like I was in a suburb of inner-city Melbourne on a quiet day. The sky was grey and the centre was filled with vegetarian cafes and trendy posters about yoga meet ups.
After getting my fill of avocado, hummus and soy cappuccinos, I headed to the Blue Wren Backpackers (referred to me by Anna).
I splurged, and an extra $20 got me a room to myself (for my last night). The shower was great, the people were really cool and, after a pub meal, the occupants of the backpackers decided to have a games night. I won the 20 question quiz before taking myself to bed – and before risking falling asleep in front of everyone at the kitchen table!
Tomorrow is going to be a big day.
Day 24: The last pedal
Denmark to Albany
6:45 – 1:15 80km
I woke up at 5:30am. I wasn’t sure how long 80km was going to the take me (as it’s pretty much 2 days in one) but I wanted to make sure I made it to Albany while it was still light. It’s the only day I felt that feeling of “gotta get from A to B”. Probably because it’s a much bigger distance so I felt the time constraints. I set off from the backpackers hostel – one thing I have to mention before the end of my blog is, that although I love love love sleeping in the wild or in a hut (definitely my preferences), I have noticed a cycling performance difference if I have slept in a bed the night before. So I made sure I got a good rest by staying in the backpackers knowing that the distance this day would be the longest I will have managed.
As I rode out of Denmark I stopped at the bakery and bought some goodies for my last journey. I rode along the river to a pedestrian bridge and the sun was just peaking through the trees. The water and the sky were full of reds, blues and yellows. It was stunning. Denmark is a place I have flagged to revisit – and with my bike!
The Munda Biddi yellow signage took me on a heritage trail which follows along the water. I also noticed little huts, maybe every kilometre – would make great sheltered rest spots. The view of the water from the track was beautiful and, being the first one on the track that day, full of long spider webs spanning the track (how do they do it?!) I’m a seasoned pro with spider webs now – assessing that they are just little mini ones and not very sticky webs – I just powered through them without a second thought.
There was then a mix of long dirt roads, some old rail-line tracks and bitumenised roads. These dirt roads had the worst corrugations I’ve ever come across. It was hard work. I even spotted a car driving at slow speed half in the bush to avoid the deep corrugations.
I was making amazing time. Flat roads and tracks today made for good speed. My legs were powering on too. I wonder if I could have done this on Day 1 or am I actually fitter? I think I can claim that I’m an actual cyclist now – ha ha!
Around 9:30am, and half way to Albany, the wind picked up, the blue sky turned black and the rain started. Big heavy drops. I had been so lucky on my adventure, the weather had been perfect almost every day. The next 3 hours of storm made me question everything. How much harder would the trip have been in terrible weather? How do people cycle tour in areas where it rains often? I was soaked through.
I rode through farm land into the wind and rain. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but I kept myself occupied by cow watching. I also saw kangaroos, rabbits, a fox, an emu and for a little bit, a Jack Russell puppy that thought I was the bee’s knees and chased my bike along the road. I ended up scooping him up and taking him to the closest property, which luckily ended up was his home.
I got to Elleker, only 15 more kilometres to Albany. It was only 11:30am! I stopped under a tin shed that had bike racks in it. Decided to have lunch, a warm tea (I keep hot water in my green bottle that sits on my down tube) and dried out my jacket. I stayed standing, the last thing I needed was for my legs to go cold.
After lunch I rode into Albany. I hit Frenchman Bay Road. I could tell where I was in relation to town. I started to tear up but forced myself to get serious because I wasn’t actually at the end of the trail yet, I still had a few kilometres to go. In town, the track crosses a railway line and you have to lift your bike up a few old steps (seriously?!), then climb a big hill with no bike shoulder and then finally (with some confusion) down some streets through the centre of town dodging pedestrians and negotiating cars to the Munda Biddi Trail Southern Terminus sign.
I pulled up to the Southern Terminus sign and just stared at it. My brain just shut off. What do I do now? I just stood there. I actually made it. This is actually it. I… just… it’s… it’s done. How do I feel? I have no idea. I had a couple hours before I would meet up with friends who live in town but right now I felt… blank. I just stared at the sign.
I’m not relieved because I enjoyed the entire journey. I’m not sad because I guess it’s good to finish on a high. Then a local walked by and stopped to ask me if I was coming or going. Then I felt myself smile. I smiled wide and said, “I just finished!” It hit me. I just had to say it out loud. Wow. I’m so happy. We chatted for a bit and then I headed into town for some food and a drink.
This is the longest solo trip I have ever done. It was my first multi-day bike ride, and it was 6 months in the planning and dreaming. I had achieved what I had set out to do. With many challenges along the way! My favourite part? The people I met. I became my favourite self, my best self. I surprisingly loved the solitude I experienced too. I went over 48 hours multiple times without seeing someone. And then I also met people in the middle of nowhere who are on the same wavelength that I am. New friends with the same interests and the same goals. Meeting people like this increased my energy levels ten-fold. It motivated me to keep going. My heart opened up and for 24 days I got to live life my own way without external expectations. My days were 100% mine. I saw my home, Western Australia, in a very different way and it made me love it even more. I got messages throughout my journey from friends and strangers following my Blog and Instagram which also warmed my heart. I felt so supported. And at a time in my life that, if I hadn’t done this, I think I would have felt very alone.
And now it’s done. I did it.
…so what do I do now?