Four Trails Ride
29"er Soft tail, no luggage
The plan came to me during a long hot WA summer, when it was too hot for off road riding. I was poring over maps and started to realise I could join four trails near Perth into a 70 km loop that would be perfect for training to ride the Munda Bidd trail.
So when Easter came around, I utilised my one available day for the ride. The weather forecast was for 32 degrees, which was a bit warm, but I had no other days available. I started the day early by spending $4.50 to catch a metro train to Midland, 16km East from Perth.
25 minutes later I was riding passed the old Midland train Workshops on the 3km journey to Bellvue, where I can join the Railway Heritage Trail. This route utilises the original train line from Perth to York and was built in the 1880's. This route is a 15 km long gentle climb up the Darling Scarp to Mundaring. The 300m vertical climb is made easy enough by the generally good solid surfaces.
Just over an hour later I was at the shady and scenic Mundaring Sculpture Park. This is where the Munda Biddi starts. 300 m after leaving the Park, the Trail turn towards the Mundaring Weir, just as the Kep track from Northam joins the same route. The 7 km Mundaring to Weir section was an old train line built in the 1890's to assist the construction of the Weir. the Mundaring Weir, the main water source of Kalgoorlie, 600km away in the dry dusty goldfields.
I am soon crossing the Helena River - from here it is uphill to Mt Gungin, a climb of about 300m over 10 km. That doesn't sound too bad, but the rough surface and pea gravel does make it a lot harder climb than the ride up the trail line to Mundaring. It was also getting hot - my little temperature gauge said it was now 30 degrees.
On this ride I took the touring route section of the Munda Biddi. It is a bit flatter and easier, especially as I am riding it uphill from the Helena River. I think some of the touring route follows the path of a wooden tramway from 1909. Named after the two owners, the Port and Honey mill sounds yummier than it actually was.
The pea gravel and sand on this section was especially tedious as after a long hot summer, it was very loose and soft. For those unfamiliar with it, pea gravel is small balls of weathered laterite, that is sometimes mined for alumina. When it is deep and loose, it is hard to ride, and when combined with a gentle slope upwards, it was enough to get me pushing. It reminded me that although most of the Munda Biddi has very little pea gravel, the first two maps have the lion's share.
I have come out of the bush on Holroyd Rd, but instead of turning left up Kingsmill Rd and heading into the bush again, I will turn right and ride through Pickering Brook, a small orchard town. The small historic display had a table and chairs, water (ideal as I was now very low, having consumed 3 litres), toilets and bins. This route passes a general store, but it was shut due to the public holiday. It is about 7km from here to the start of the Mason & Bird trail, along quiet Hills roads.
The start of the Mason & Bird Trail is near Victoria Dam, the original supply of Perth's water. I stopped briefly at the Mason & Bird Bridge. The bridge was built in 1872 by convicts and ticket of leave men (ex convicts) and is supposed to be oldest all wooden bridge in Australia - even the rails are wooden! From here it is a 8 km ride to the Maddington Train station, and my train back to Perth.
At the Maddington train station and I am about 20 km South East of Perth. I rode a total of 67 km according to my trip computer. It was now 3pm and turned out to be the hottest part of the day - 33 degrees. And guess what - the trains weren't running! So I dialled in a steady sustainable speed on the bike and rode the 20 km to my home in just over an hour. At least I could find a shop on the way home that was open for a cold drink!
This loop is a great day ride and an ideal practice for riding the Munda Biddi. Another $4.50 and 25 minutes I will be back in Perth.