Those beers last night left me with a bit of a cottonmouth this morning, but it was nice waking up in a bed after a few chilli nights camping.
We left the nurses quarters around 7:30am and stocked up on supplies at the general store, which is also where Matt & Di and Ron had stayed the night before. Having looked a little exhausted the night before, Ron had convinced one of the locals to drop him at the next campsite by car, which was a wise move as we knew the trail included a fair bit of climbing today.
The trail leaves from the southern side of town and quickly returns to pea gravel. Those riders we met back near Wungong had told us the pea gravel extends about 15km south of Jarrahdale; we’ll be quite happy to see the end of it.
I should point out now (as I don’t think I have already) that the Munda Biddi is very well signposted. There’s a marker post at nearly all junctions (of which there must be thousands) and the odd reminder plaque on a tree.
The trail descends quickly out of Jarrahdale on loose and rutted out trails into the Serpentine Valley and then climbs back up to a ridge on the opposite side.
The first part of the climb is on an unsealed road which isn’t too bad, but the grade steepens towards the top of the road, then branches off onto trail. The loose and rocky surface made it impossible to ride with a touring load. We met Matt & Di on the climb who were also pushing; the grade topped out at 23%, though I only snapped a photo of the Garmin at 21%. This was a real testing climb.
The trail levels out at the top of the scarp and undulates for a few kms. The wild flowers in this area are very colourful; WA has over 12,000 species of wild flower and from what I gather, this is the best time of year to see them.
The trail ducks and weaves through tight single track for the next 7km or so, really nice trail, but very slow going compared to open roads. 10km/hr is a decent pace. They also require a little more concentration to avoid wiping out, particularly due to the constantly changing surface.
About 18km into the days ride, my front dérailleur stopped shifting down into the lower chainring. At first I thought a stick has pulled my cable and loosened it, but tightening that didn’t seem to do anything. On closer inspection I found a piece of pea gravel wedged in behind the spring….this stuff gets you in more ways than one.
We checked the maps only to realise that we weren’t supposed to be riding alongside any rivers today. We kept riding for another few kms until we popped out at the Serpentine Dam car park, about 7km off course, and in the bottom of the valley again…I guess we weren’t paying enough attention to those signs.
We asked a few people for directions back, and ended up climbing back out of the valley by the asphalt access road. It wasn’t all bad I guess, at least we got to see the Sepertine Dam.
We made it back to the trail after an hour or so, and made some lunch in a shady spot. The afternoon session included more climbing, my legs were really feeling it by mid afternoon. We meandered past the North Dandalup Dam, which was much bigger than the Serpentine.
These huts are provided for free to all riders who pass through. They’re all very similar in construction, but the Dandalup is perched on the side of a hill, with spectacular views extending all the way to the ocean. They could really charge for these.
We whipped up a delicious sausage curry for dinner and knocked off those four bottles of red we bought last night in Jarrahdale with Matt & Di. It was a great night at camp; we got real lucky with our new MTB gang. We realised we hade five age decades represented, from Tennis in his 20s to Ron in his 70s. The Munda Biddi attracts them all!
Ron closed out proceedings with a harmonica session….brilliant.