Wadandi Track

March 2018

26" hard tail, no Luggage

I had ridden the first section of the Wadandi Track (Busselton to Vasse) a while back, but now I had finally got the opportunity to ride the major section – Cowaramup to Witchcliffe. The weather was overcast and quite cool for March, but that just made for perfect cycling weather. While getting ready at the Cowaramup trail head, a young bloke was getting himself organised as well. We got chatting and it turned out Matt was going to ride the Track to the end, then back again. I asked to come along with him, and he was fine with that.
The Track is really nice, compact rail trail, and goes through a variety of bush. At the start it is often jarrah forest, near Margaret River is a few patches of karri, and towards Witchcliffe it is more often open farm land. It starts just off the highway in Cowaramup, passes through the outskirts of Margaret River, and finishes 2km South of Witchcliffe, so there are 3 places to stop and get food, drink etc.
Signage is ok, but is not frequent enough, and in one part it is incorrect. For instance, there is a sign South of Margaret River (Gnarawary Road) indicating that is the Trail head, but in fact the trail was extended another 6 km back in 2015. In Margaret River itself, it does get a bit confusing at the road crossings on where the Track is, but we muddled our way through. My GPX file should help you a lot.
Coming into Margaret River, there were several bridges to cross. Some were the old rail bridges with hand rails added for safety. But a couple had new galvanised "humps" placed on the old bridges, and were fun to ride and quite an interesting engineering exercise.
Just before Margaret River, the Trail passes the MTB area, so you get a few more riders in that area. We started riding just before 10am, and because Matt was with me, I didn't have to stop much to video the Track. This meant we were at the Track's end about 12 noon. This was the where the Track crossed Calgardup road. The train line obviously continued on into Harrisson Rd, but being a gravel road it is not the ideal situation for cyclists. We then rode back into Witchcliffe for a coffee and a pie at the Bakery (which was one of the best bakeries I have been to in quite a while). I headed off, and Matt re-joined the trail to ride back to Cowaramup.
When the Track turn East West to follow Rowe Road, Guy at the bike shop in Witchcliffe (a handy resource to have. You won't miss him in the centre of town) suggested riders use the road (it is quiet). He reckons that section is full of double gee prickles, although Matt and I didn't pick any up.

Kep Track

March 2018

26" hard tail, no luggage

I was back on the Kep Track again, same as January, but this ride turned out quite differently.
I did the same route as last time (ie Clackline to Midland train station), but this time 3 other riders came along. We were all quite good riders, but the bigger the group, the more stops you need, and the slower you travel . For instance, with 4 times as many tyres on the Track compared to riding solo, the chances of a flat tyre or mechanical issue increase 4 times. We had a flat and a minor mechanical issue, so that all adds to the travel time. It was also cooler this time – 27 degrees, instead of 32 degrees or more.
I also noticed the Track was a lot looser and more gravelly this time. When I rode in January, we had an unseasonal 100mm of rain a couple of weeks before, and I think that compacted the Track a bit. This time, it was bone dry, dusty and a bit harder.
Luan summed up riding the gentle slopes upwards – they are not hard, but they eat away at you. We estimated the difference between riding up the inclines was up to 10km/hr slower  than coming down them.
Our first stop was Wooroloo for a drink, outside the general store. But by the time we rode the 100m to the picnic area with toilets, Luan noticed he had a flat tyre, so we stopped to change it. While we were doing that, we chatted with two riders on electric mountain bikes who had parked at Chidlow, and ridden the 15km to Wooroloo, then were riding back. Their electric bikes were eating up the km so easily, and I expect we will see a lot more of these bikes on rail trails soon.
Our lunch spot was supposed to be Chidlow, but a classic car show had taken over the town, and the shop was heaving with customers. So we headed on towards Mount Helena, 6km away. We shopped at the IGA and had a picnic in the park, just 50m off the Track.
When we joined the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, we took the Northern leg through John Forrest National Park, not the Southern leg along with the Kep Track. The ride through the National Park was dry, but nice. It is all downhill, with sometimes sweeping views off the Darling Scarp. We walked through the old rail tunnel as we didn't have any torches to see properly.
The short ride from the Heritage Trail to Midland was uneventful, and we were back at my place at about 3pm. That was about 90 minutes longer than when I rode the same route last, but it definitely is more pleasant riding with others. Plus it gave me some good video with actual riders in it!

Kep Track

Jan 2018

26" hard tail, no luggage

I wanted to ride from Clackline to Midland Train station on the Kep Track and the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail. Starting at Clackline avoids the steep, rough up hill section from Northam, and also the sealed section. And by joining the trail at Clackline, you only ride on rail trail.
The weather forecast for Perth on Australia Day was 30 degrees, so I planned the ride. But the night before I saw the forecast for Northam (close to my start point) was 38 degrees, so it was going to be warmer than I expected. So an early start was called for, and I was actually on the Trail at 8am, heading back to Perth.
By 9am the temperature was 28 degrees, and 30 degrees by 10am. It stayed around that number for the rest of the ride. For this office based worker, it was a bit warm, but I kept my fluids up and didn't over do it.
Generally the Trail is a good gravel track with gentle slopes. As you would expect in January, the gravel was often loose in parts, but that just slowed you down in parts a little. A couple of kilometres from Wooroloo the Trail had obviously been used by horses a lot, and the surface was very diveted, and harder to ride. But it only lasted a kilo click or two.
I had a quick drink at the Wooroloo general store, which was open on the public holiday.
I said the slopes were gentle, but the long slope up into Chidlow had me needing a break half way up it. And I had another short break in Chidlow too. I only saw 3 riders on the Kep between Clackline and Mt Helena.
The switchback over the pipeline on Johnson St and Sawyers Rd in Mt Helena was well marked. Just after that, the Kep track joins the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail. The Kep follows the Southern section to Mundaring, but I continued straight on the Northern section. You soon enter John Forrest National Park, and there were a lot more walkers and riders about. But it was good fun barrelling off the Scarp, and soon I was at the end of the Railway Reserves HT in Bellvue. From there, it is 3.8km to Midland Train station, and a short train ride home - I was too hot and tired to cycle it!