Jarrahdale to Dandalup
Munda Biddi Trail
23rd August 2021
The Ride - Day Three on the Munda Biddi and this would be another big day to try and hold pace so we had the chance of catching up to the planned itinerary before Nannup. Our stay at our last minute BnB in Jarrahdale had been very pleasant and thanks to a continental breakfast being provided, we could sleep in a little and enjoy a bite to eat while we readied our gear. The plan for today was to make it to Dwellingup where we had accommodation booked and hopefully the pub kitchen would be open, unlike the previous nights debacle. It had been recommended to us that it would be a good idea to grab a takeaway roll from the Jarrahdale General Store before departing town so that meant a later than anticipated start of 8am as we had to wait for it to open.
Saying goodbye to the noisy but pretty roosters that lived at our BnB, we headed in the wrong direction for the end goal of the day to visit the General Store. It was a very brisk morning as we parked up and waited to be let in. After ordering our rolls we departed and found our way out of town via George St and then Curo St as it turns into Serpentine National Park. Unfortunately it was quite obvious as soon as we entered the national park that this area is ground zero for illegal dirt bike riding as the trail was heavily chewed up. This section leading all the way down to the Serpentine River would be the worst of the pea gravel thanks to the heathen on their dyrt boiks and the steep gradients being easily eroded after the rains. Ignoring the slow going in the pea gravel and focussing on enjoying the riding, it would at least be downhill after the first small hill of the day. I was impressed early on by the thick trees and ground cover wattle that was looking extra nice in the morning sunshine streaming through the canopy. Being so close to a town you can't expect the national park to go on forever and the trail does take you next to a cleared field that has views down towards Millbrook Winery.
Around here I spotted my first Black Cockatoo for the day, keeping my streak alive at three days for seeing one of these magnificent birds. Reaching the descent, this wouldn't be as easy a task as I thought it would be as the vehicle tracks through here are some of the most eroded on the entire track and it takes a great deal of concentration and picking the right line to stay attached to the bike. With everything rattling and shaking around, it was a good test of the bags to see how they fared with what would be the most punishment they would cop over the whole trip. Successfully negotiating the downhill section at a much slower speed than expected, we reached the Serpentine River crossing and a sense of dread came over me. What goes down must go up on long distance cycling and river valleys, while pretty sometimes, often mean an immediate uphill climb. This big puppa was 150m of vert with some sharp gradients along the way, although at the time of writing the Munda Biddi Foundation is building a realignment that will make the whole experience much better. I let Aron go on ahead while I took off my jacket and winter gloves, psyching myself up for the biggest ascent of the day.
Eventually getting going, you ride along Scarp Road for the first of many times today as it starts climbing up into the forest. With my bottom climbing gear giving me some issues, I was hoping to get in a comfortable rhythm and dominate the ascent. Unfortunately the gradients reach into the double digits for the second half of this first section and I admitted defeat, joining Aron in pushing my bike up the hill. With a 30kg bike to push, it's not exactly the easy option but the saving grace was the scenery looking out over the valley was quite pleasant. After a chilly start to the morning, this was certainly doing its bit to warm us up and mercifully it flattened out a tiny bit as the trail heads off Scarp Road. I was kind of hoping this would be the end of the steep gradients but after pedalling around a corner, I was presented with another mean looking climb. I gave it a crack but the eroded sections and pea gravel thwarted my progress and I decided to cut my losses and walk the rest of the way. Aron was still a bit behind as I reached the top of the hill as he had elected to walk the whole thing.
I found a shady spot with a log to sit on while I waited and whipped out the map to remind myself of the elevation profile for the rest of the day. It wasn't looking so bad for the next section so I took a drinks break and Aron showed up a little while later. Riding along old vehicle tracks, the terrain isn't flat but a series of small ups and downs that are pretty fun if you can maintain momentum enough that not too much pedalling is required to get up the hills. Reaching Scarp Road for the second time, the wide and flat gravel track looked very appealing as it meant an uptick in pace, although this wouldn't last too long. A side road leads off to the left and if you aren't paying attention then it's easy to keep on riding. White gates stop cars riding along the Munda Biddi and it requires a small detour to get around them before you are riding along the gravel track again. While we had predominantly been in mixed Jarrah & Marri forest so far, it was nice to come across a patch of Bullich (Eucalyptus megacarpa) that seemed to love the wetter areas of the landscape.