Day 463 | Statham Wetland on the Heritage Rail Trail: finally off the Munda Biddi

45 km | Heading west total: 16,699 km

Final day on the Munda Biddi had to have some of both the best and worst stretches on the trail.

OK riding after leaving Carinyah Shelter but then later getting into some big knarly climbs. A maze of single track for the hordes of Sunday mountain bikers who emerged at pace, sans any excess baggage, from the forest.

When I mention forest, it’s really only a forest at a distance.

It suffered first from the loggers back in history hacking down the beautiful immense trees with their red coloured timber to whittle into railway sleepers. Then there have been the bauxite miners, the area has the largest bauxite deposit in the universe, seems everything out west to do with mining is bigger than anywhere else. Now the forest is dealing with dieback, a peculiar Western Australian phenomenon, a fungal infection distributed by motorised wheels, but maybe not by cyclists, that slowly kills much of the vegetation. The solution, keep vehicles out of forests, is just too hard to contemplate. Still, it all looks like forest from a distance and maybe that’s enough for the townies.

There’s occasional sections in the north of the Munda Biddi termed a Touring Route which avoid the more rugged parts of the track where full suspension, disk brakes and knobbly 2.5 inch tyres would be useful. Sometimes, I confess, I have taken some additional respite on my own little detours.

This last day is the only chunk that has much in the way of rock on the track and it goes out of its way to fit as much in as possible to make up for it. It’s savage on the tyres.

At lunchtime I note my rear tyre is flat for the second time today and changing the tube rather than just a quick pump up, why didn’t I fit a new tube from my stash in the trailer rather than the secondhand one those few days ago, there’s the discovery I’ve managed to stuff another $100 rear wheel. Two spokes have pulled through the Shimano hub.

No worries, been there, done that. 34 spokes are plenty for these final days.

There’s quite the rocky drop to Mundaring Weir, the spot where rainwater is gathered to pump and pipe some huge distance to Kalgoorlie where rain is much less frequent. This was an early 20th century crazy engineering feat which while updated more recently still provides the water for the whole gigantic gold mining operation and a town of almost 30,000 people. Gee, don’t I make quite the tour guide.

Then from the weir an 8km climb up to the end of the trail.

Hunh? You end your 500km pedal at the top of a biggish hill?

The first (really steep) section is on a narrow winding sealed road with plenty of Sunday drivers out enjoying the scenery from a means of travel not requiring the same level of physical exertion on the ascent phase.

Some way up a you beaut bike track appears off road, I think this must have been created to give Trailblazers a false sense of the nature of the track when they start, as the greater majority do, from the northern end.

I take a relief stop and four guys whirr past on gee whiz mountain bikes in the granny ring. I follow.

Hah. I almost catch them when I spot them pushing in the distance. I get to within 20m of the top of the same incline then spend 5 minutes scrabbling that now lighter bike up the verticality. No food or water aboard but it’s the usual ball bearings on a slope surface for my size 48 surfboards to conquer. They get away.

I keep plugging away in that middle ring and a couple of k further up they’ve stopped for a breather. Two of them take off and I get past the two stragglers.

Their burst doesn’t last too long and they get a shock when they turn to see my nonchalant face right behind them, that battered bike with full caravan attached, their mates nowhere to be seen.

Me, competitive?

OK, maybe a little now and again.