Tom’s teaching a course, but the sun’s shining, gorgeously for this late in the season and we’ve had far too few weekends out of town in the 6 weeks we’ve been back. So I’m off.
I’m slow and faffy getting going – can’t quite decide on my route, where I’ll finish up, what train I’ll get back, how best to load my bike for a weekender. I need hardly anything. I leave stove and mug behind this time, willing to do without coffee for 3 days in the interests of simplicity, though I might pause if someone suggested I give it up for 20 months. I even consider leaving out my waterproof given the forecast but it’s late May and I’m not quite that brave. In a moment of stunning under preparedness I also forget my puncture repair kit. Ah well. I’ve an inner tube and pump, I’ll be fine if I get one puncture, just can’t afford the luxury of 2.
I take the train to the eastern edge of the city. I had considered riding but it’s already afternoon by the time I get going and I want to maximize bush time. From the end of the line at Midland Station I’m on the Railway Heritage Trail as far as Mundaring, then the Munda Biddi.
Then it’s just me and the gum trees, tyres singing on lovely single track. I know and love these forests, with their blend of jarrah, marri, banksia and grass trees (we used to call them Blackboys; we are not allowed to any more). The trail is rutted in places, rocky in others, at times technical enough that I need briefly to don my mountain biking head. There’s a sweet strange coming together of a sport I’ve learned to love in far-off places as an adult and the landscape of my childhood.
Dusk, just black cockatoos for companions and the heart and soul rightness of being out here. The week’s worries fade (someone offered me a job!), I am back inside my own skin and comfortable. A thump signals companions of a different sort and I watch 4 roos hop by, the graceful long tailed creatures of this home. It’s not Patagonia but it sure ain’t bad.
I open out on a bit of downhill, without a cyclocomputer now I wonder how fast I’m going. Probably not as fast as I think, cos in my mind I’m flying.
On Sunday morning I ride from Wungong Hut to Jarrahdale, and treat myself to coffee and cake at the cafe there. Then I ride the tarmac to Armadale – taking a scenic backroad through the bush for most of the way before the inevitable stretch of highway to the train station.
As luck would have it, there’s some big footy game on in the city and the train becomes increasingly crowded with West Coast Eagles supporters as each stop passes. By the time we get to Perth I’m panicky with agoraphobia, wishing I had just ridden the whole way and desperate to get off. A glance at the Freo train reveals that it is similarly sardined, and confirms that me and my bike will not be on it. I am back on the bike for the last 20km from Perth to Freo, well aware of how out-of-place my loaded dual suspension mountain bike must look here in the heart of the city – but not really caring.