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Ride Review: The Munda Biddi trail
For many years, my summer holidays have been essentially about one thing only: a chance to go cycle touring. While city cycling forms the basis of my everyday movements, cycle touring is the way I love to travel and see the world. This year, my partner and I went to Western Australia to ride the Munda Biddi trail which runs from the Mundaring, in the Perth Hills, to the town of Albany, on the south coast of WA. The trail is currently open between Mundaring and Manjimup (approx 600km); the southern section will be finished this year. When complete, the Munda Biddi trail will cover 1000kms and will claim to be 'the longest, continuous, off-road cycle trail of its kind in the world'. Impressive!
'Munda Biddi' means path through the forest in the Noongar language. The trail follows an escarpment of ancient Jarrah and Marri forests that spans the South West corner of WA. The trail traverses through National Parks, State Forests, farmland and mining leases. While many parts of the trail use unsealed roads and forestry tracks, the trail is primarily a mountain bike track with long sections of single track. We managed to cover most of the trail on touring bikes that we fitted with knobby tyres (40mm wide), but the trail is best suited to mountain bikes with much wider knobby tyres. We also found it useful to have flat pedals instead of clip-in shoes as our loaded bikes were far more difficult to control through sections of 'pea gravel' and sand. Having a really quick ‘foot-down’ option proved useful for avoiding stacks. There were many slow sections of trail where we had to lift our bikes over fallen trees or push our bikes up gravelly slopes. For much of the time our speed was well below 10km/h and we’d average between 30 and 50km each day.
A nice aspect of the Munda Biddi are the series of huts located along the route that provide shelter and water for riders. Each hut has a sleeping area, sitting area, water tanks and a toilet. Some even included a bicycle repair stand! Each hut also had a log book where riders recorded their details as well as sharing experiences of the ride. The huts make it possible to ride the trail without packing a tent, however we found having a tent gave us more freedom to travel at our own pace. There are also a number of fantastic campsites along the route as well as accommodation in nearby trail towns. We spent every third night or so in a town, which was a great opportunity to restock supplies and enjoy a bit of luxury after a hard couple of days riding.
Although the trail is well signposted with trail markers, we used the Trail Maps to plan our journey. The Trail Maps include important information on where to find the huts, campsites, water, and places to buy food. We also found having a larger scale map of the region useful for times we wanted to deviate from the trail. While not officially part of the Munda Biddi trail, taking alternative routes and following secondary roads that intersected the trail allowed us to reach our destination earlier on days that were very hot. We saw almost negligible traffic on many of these back roads. While the trail is open all year, the Munda Bindi Foundation recommends Spring and Autumn as the best times to ride the trail. Having just experienced the trail during a Western Australian heatwave, that’s sound advice to take!
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