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Tim’s had this weekend in mind for a while, and wasn’t to be put off by rational observations that temperatures above 35 degrees celsius would risk over-testing the mettle of some small, off-road touring neophytes (not to mention some less ‘green’).

Tim and Greg unload the trailer.  This cunning contraption has been fangled to carry a kiddie-seat (a verge collection) and a bicycle.  The only source of tension - it was finished the day before and has yet to be tested....

Tim and Greg unload the trailer. This cunning contraption has been fangled to carry a kiddie-seat (a verge collection) and a bicycle. The only source of tension – it was finished the day before and has yet to be tested….

Megs seems less than sure that she should trust her bicycle to it

Megs seems less than sure that she should trust her bicycle to it

While Molly has her doubts about a few things too

While Molly has her doubts about a few things too

Meanwhile Sarah and Britta keep to the shade for as long as possible

Meanwhile Sarah and Britta keep to the shade for as long as possible

Our mission – as presented to us by Tim – is to convey 4 adults, 4 children of various ages and cycling proficiency (and inclination) by as many cycling permutations and combinations possible from Jarrahdale General store along the Munda Biddi Trail to the Wungong hut about 25km away.  To avoid too much stress, he’s come up with a  support vehicle to meet us halfway at the old Balmoral POW camp.

The luxury side - all this will be moved by car to as near the hut as possible by Greg's wife, Dimelza.

The luxury side – all this will be moved by car to as near the hut as possible by Greg’s wife, Dimelza, after she’s picked up the less enthusiastic participants at the old Balmoral POW camp.

Greg and his daughters take the lead - followed by Sarah on the look out for anything that might fall off or be discarded along the way (e.g. hats, helmets, socks and shoes)

Greg and his daughters take the lead – followed by Sarah on the look out for anything that might fall off or be discarded along the way (e.g. hats, helmets, socks, shoes and banana peel)

It quickly becomes apparent that the BOB is much preferred to the twice-rejected car seat as Molly and Megs sample all the available options in quick succession.

It quickly becomes apparent that the BOB is much preferred to the twice-rejected car seat as Molly and Megs sample all the available options in quick succession.

There's a brief pause while Meg's bike is reattached to the trailer.  The going proves a little too soft at this time of year - even on the flat bits.  The pause is extended to allow a discussion about who gets the newly afixed bike and who gets the tandem-trailed BOB.

After a short solo ride there’s a pause while Meg’s bike is reattached to the trailer. The going proves a little too soft at this time of year – even on the flat bits. The pause is extended to allow a discussion about who gets the newly afixed bike and who gets the tandem-trailed BOB.

Dimelza arrives, having ridden back along the track from Balmoral - and we all seek shade for the renegotiation of rides

Dimelza arrives, having ridden back along the track from Balmoral – and we all seek shade for the renegotiation of rides

During the 14km from Jarrahdale to Balmoral, it becomes obvious that the major sticking point is not going to be the understandable desire of the younger ones to experience all the available carrying options, but a succession of inexplicable tyre valve-base failures in my front wheel.  Despite my best efforts, with a puncture every 3km, I quickly use up the group’s supply of spare inner tubes.

Tim's planning for a full range of child and bike carrying options easily manages the ficklenesses present.  My front rim's sudden desire to slice every inner tube's valve off at the base is much more frustrating

Tim’s planning for a full range of child and bike carrying options easily manages the ficklenesses present. My front rim’s sudden desire to slice every inner tube’s valve off at the base is much more frustrating

After Balmoral the track moves onto fire-trails rather than the narrower rail-trail beforehand.  It also gets lots softer, making for hard going on a couple of short(ish) hills for those who are more heavily loaded.  Sarah waits

After Balmoral the track moves onto fire-trails rather than the narrower rail-trail beforehand. It also gets lots softer, making for hard going on a couple of short(ish) hills for those who are more heavily loaded. Sarah waits for us to catch up.

At about this point, I run out of spare inner tubes and patience.  So the challenge now becomes how to transport the Big Dummy and its passenger.  Not looking good this way up...

At about this point, I run out of spare inner tubes and patience. So the challenge now becomes how to transport the Big Dummy and its passenger. Not looking good this way up…

Slightly better the other way up...

Slightly better the other way up…

Me - I get to ride stoker on the tandem.  I've not tried this before - and the learning curve isn't helped by a unalterably low saddle and more loose pea gravel

Me – I get to ride stoker on the tandem. I’ve not tried this before – and the learning curve isn’t helped by a unalterably low saddle and more loose pea gravel

Immediate point of note - it takes a lot of concentrated relaxation not to 'steer' on slippy-skiddy pea gravel

Immediate point of note – it takes a lot of concentrated relaxation not to ‘steer’ on slippy-skiddy pea gravel

Greg and his cargo

Greg and his unplanned cargo.

Hut arrival is helped muchly when I borrow a front wheel from Dimelza’s bike – it does stay inflated for the kit-ferry from the car (and for the whole of the next day back to Jarrahdale).  I’m so happy to steer for myself and not have too many knees hitting handlebars that a total lack of front brakes is a minor price to pay.

The hut's empty when we arrive, and there's water in the tanks.  Somewhat unsurprisingly we're all quite tired, so dinner quickly fades into bed-time

The hut’s empty when we arrive, and there’s water in the tanks. Somewhat unsurprisingly we’re all quite tired, so dinner quickly fades into bed-time

The return trip goes much more smoothly - mostly as I'm still riding hemi-braked with a snaffled front wheel.  Ben's usurped Megs's spot and chats to Molly while Greg and Tim make the most of firm going.

The return trip goes much more smoothly – mostly as I’m still riding hemi-braked with a snaffled front wheel. Ben’s usurped Megs’s spot and chats to Molly while Greg and Tim make the most of firm going

At the bottom of the softest hill, we shade-group (it's 35 already).  Barring a small knee-scraping spill, Britta's ridden the whole way on a fully-rigid bike that she's only just got and is (still) a bit too big for her.  Much promise there.

At the bottom of the softest hill, we shade-group (it’s 35 already). Barring a small knee-scraping spill, 11 year old Britta’s ridden the whole way on a fully-rigid bike that she’s only just been given and is (still) a bit too big for her. Much promise there.

Morning tea (and grapes - thank you Dimelza) at Balmoral in full swing

Morning tea (and grapes – thank you Dimelza) at Balmoral in full swing

"Monkey" gets the best view though

“Monkey” gets the best view though

All is wrapped up by lunch at the Jarrahdale General Store before we part company, with promises of ‘missions’ yet to be planned.

CAST:

Tim Darby – Tandem and BOB trailer

Britta  (11) and Ben (6) – own bikes

Greg Ireland – Hardtail and Ireland Supertrailer mk 1.1 (carrying 2 smalls)

Megs (5) and Molly (3)

Sarah Hedges – Roxy

Tom Walwyn – Surly Big Dummy

Support – Dimelza, without whom this production would not have worked :-)

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