This is a pretty great ride. About 25km, about a third single track, no tough climbs.
The only section of the Munda Biddi I had every ridden before 2022 was from Albany to Torbay, so from here on it’s all new ground.
Riding is a really unique way to experience a landscape. On this ride I’m only 30km from the place I’ve lived for many years, but I was riding through areas that were completely unfamiliar. I might have driven through in a car, but the landscape whips by so fast you don’t have any experience of it. You might spend less than a minute in a valley, or a few seconds on a hillside. There’s no time to absorb it.
I did manage to get my first interaction with potentially deadly local fauna out of the way which was… intense. I’ll freely admit that I’m intensely afraid of snakes, or more accurately - I’m afraid of encountering snakes while on the bike. The problem is, with wheels instead of footsteps the danger noodles don’t feel you coming and don’t have time to scarper. If you’re moving along at a brisk walking pace and see one several meters ahead of you, you don’t really have time to stop until you’re right on it.
Anyhow, today in a section of single track I came across a dugite. It was off to the side, and I stopped maybe 2m before coming along side. It saw me at about the same time, and after a moment’s hesitation it took off, across the track, and disappeared into the scrub on the other side. I, perhaps shamefully, turned around and went back up the track about 200m to a gravel road.
For a few minutes my mind was kind of racing. I felt like turning tail and riding back to the car, and I knew that would mean this whole mission to ride the entirety of the Munda Biddi would have failed when it had barely even started. I can’t do it if I’m going to go back to the car every time I see a snake.
I sat there on the road and ate my lunch, waiting for the disco leg to subside.
I realised that this length of single track was only a few km and that the Munda Biddi re-joined the road after a few more km. Even if I stuck to the road for the rest of the day, I could still make my target distance. Being back on the bike (getting back on the horse?) was exactly the right move.
After another 10km or so there was some more overgrown single track, but I felt confident enough that I just went slowly, paid attention, and rolled through it. Later on, on the return journey, I managed to muster up the courage to go through the section of single track where I’d seen the dugite earlier. Like a boss.
There’s some obvious lessons to learn here about facing fears that I’ll leave unsaid. Suffice to say this journey on the Munda Biddi is about a whole lot more than bike riding.
I did however decide that the purchase of a Personal Locator Beacon was essential. The thing is, if you get bitten by a snake the first aid is basically a pressure bandage and immobilisation. If there’s no mobile phone reception then you can’t really walk or ride to the top of the nearest hill to call for help.