Sunday, May 23

A Ride in the Hills (75km)

Thursday morning, not exactly bright and early, I packed the camping gear on the bike and cycled down to the train station. I was looking forward to a few days in the autumnal hills. Heading from Midland to Darlington then on to Glen Forrest, I stopped for a bite of lunch. I had gasped like a guppy up a number of inclines, so was looking forward to treating myself to something truly evil, maybe a chocolate milkshake and a pastry. What I ended up with was a nut-milk, carob smoothie and a gluten-free, wholemeal cookie. I was then berated by the waitress for my choice of saddle (leather). It appears I'd managed to hit the only vegan joint within a 100km radius. I can see her point. Had I known, I wouldn't have rocked up on a mode of transport decked out with dead animal. I tucked my wool socks and leather boots well under my seat and, I have to admit, thoroughly enjoyed the smoothie. It was icy-cold and very chocolaty, err, carob-y?

Glen Forrest to Mundaring wasn't too steep, so I had more of a chance to look around and appreciate the change of season. Just the other side of Mundaring it was finally payback time, with a lovely descent; enough to build up a delicious speed, but, not so sharp as to have your knuckles whitening on the brake levers. The afternoon had turned out to be warm and sunny so the wind whistling past my ears was a delight rather than a curse. About 10kms past Mundaring I turned into Perth Hills National Park for the night.

The campsite only cost me $9, it was set under the trees looking out over a valley, with a soft, sawdust bed for the tent and a fireplace with picnic table and chairs. I had full use of an undercover camp kitchen with kettle, toaster, fridge, BBQ and sinks. The showers were piping hot and the parking area was set away from the tent sites, so there was less chance of anyone rocking up with a canvas mansion and cranking up their generator. It was everything that is right about NP camping versus expensive caravan parks. As it was a week night I had the added bonus of being the only person there to enjoy the amenities. I made myself a kedgeree for supper and turned in with a detective novel for an hour.

In the morning I came back from my shower to find 2 parrots (Port Lincolns) picking holes in my oats bag. Luckily I'd already cooked my porridge. They were full of mischief, pulling at my pannier straps and sitting on my handlebars. Back on the road I headed in the direction of the weir. The water level is very low. I guess it's water restrictions again this summer.

Mundaring Weir Rd is bordering on ridiculous! I have to admit to resorting to Shank's Pony for a good deal of the climb. The previous day had left me with jelly-legs and I was longing for a bit of flat cycling. You know, when you don't think about what your legs are doing and you have enough air in your lungs to whistle tunelessly. It had started to rain. I was damp, my glasses were steaming over, and I was cursing the fact that I had to leave the campsite to get to a brekky with friends the next day. I really wanted to indulge myself with a lazy day at camp, the odd stroll and my book, sigh!

Despite trying not to let the brakes overheat, the steep descent into Piesse Brook, along with the wet conditions and a heavy bike, practically melted my brake pads. Still, the scenery continued to prove ample consolation. I would have had more shots, but, my Olympus SP-510UZ has packed up on me, so this post is relying on the 2 mega-pixel iPhone again!

When I arrived in Kalamunda I asked directions to the LBS for new brake pads and then found the pastry I'd been hankering for since the previous day; a citrus tart. Well worth the wait! It's amazing how something unhealthy can recharge your batteries so beautifully. With my new-found energy I whizzed down Kalamunda Rd during peak hour traffic (what fun!), and totally enjoyed the last 10kms on the flat. Actually, I forgot to go to the train station, otherwise it would have been shorter,but, after so much 'up and down', it was lovely breezing along.

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