An introduction: 10th – 30th October, 2012
The Munda Biddi trail is one of Western Australia’s many hidden secrets. The fact that it is still so unheard of is testament to the sheer vastness of WA – I mean how many countries in the world can build a 1000km cycle trail through beautiful, untouched forests and have people even in the same state who have never heard of it! This will change though. With completion of the trail forecast for March/April 2013, it will take the title of the longest, continuous, off road cycle trail of its kind in the world – a title that will surely spark the attention of the international cycling community!
Munda Biddi means ‘a path through the forest’ in Noongar, a local Aboriginal language. Following the route of the older and well established walking trail, the Bibulmun track, the Munda Biddi starts in the Perth hills and finishes down on the coast in Albany, WA’s oldest settlement. We first heard of it when we arrived in Perth in Jan 2012. At that time it was only around 30-40% complete. 9 months later when we actually came to ride it, it was more like 75% complete, with ‘only’ a 300km section between Manjimump and Denmark still awaiting completion.
The trail itself is a mixture of bush tracks, fire roads, disused railway lines and purpose built MTB trails. Some sections are very physically challenging, with steep climbs and descents in and out of river valleys, while others flat and easy going. Something for everyone! Riding the whole trail unsupported means you have to be fairly heavily laden and we certainly were that! Although we left some gear in Perth that we didn’t need, we were still carrying a lot and this made for slow progress on some of the more technical sections. We were a lot lighter than we had been up North though, mainly due to not having to carry anything like as much water or food. Again, the trailer was a great and perfect really for this kind of riding. If we were to go back and do it again, I think a trailer each would be the go!
There are huts placed enroute for sleeping, all of which are kitted out with picnic tables, pit toilets, covered bike parking and drinking water. Some of them even had makeshift bike stands for doing some maintenance on the go! These huts mean that you actually don’t need to carry camping gear, but we did as we would be riding the unfinished section on the road and camping along the way. The route is well mapped too with detailed topo maps covering each section – these maps have ride profiles so you can see ascents/descents and what grade the trail is to give yourself an idea of ride times.
A couple of days before setting off we met with Carl, a friend and fellow cycle fanatic, who has ridden and helped build/maintain parts of the trail. Carl would later join us for the last section of the trail, Denmark to Albany, which he had not yet ridden. I have to say as we sat in a café in Perth, sipping on cappuccinos and discussing the route, the maps, the huts and the hundreds of kilometres of sweet singletrack that lay before us, the Munda Biddi sounded like a breeze! After what we had done up North – the Gibb River Road, how could this even compare in terms of difficulty?! We would have it done in 2 weeks! Right?
Well, not quite… I can’t say it was more challenging than riding through the Kimberley – I mean for one thing we didn’t have the scorching heat to contend with! Or the croc infested river crossings… But the Munda Biddi trail is far from being a breeze. In fact, it turned out to be much more of a challenge than either of us were expecting!