With the Dwellingup100 off-road enduro coming up in September and having just done the Kep track with PIHC I was in need for some more distance mountain biking. I’d only ridden the usual XC rounds and a few small enduros since the last 100km effort (2010 Karri Cup). I remember telling myself after the Karri Cup that I’d need to put in some more saddle time before doing the 100km again. The time for action was nigh.
I was keen to give the Kep Track a decent effort after the small introduction a few months ago. It’s basically a dirt track that follows the Golden Pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Northam, 75km away. It’s not technical at all but does provide ample riding distance on dirt which would suit our purpose nicely. I’m not really into touring and staying in Northam didn’t interest us, so it was put forward that we ride it out and back. It’s not even hilly but my thinking was that what it lacked in elevation would be made up for in distance. The Dwellingup100 involves quite a lot of up and down but is only a mere 100km – so surely this would be a good training ride! A few emails to some interested parties, a short debate on a free weekend and a date settled on. It’d be good to knock this one over in a day.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around our band of riders had been whittled down to four. Lee, Craig, Dave and myself, rocked up to Mundaring Weir Hotel carpark at 0600  where it was deserted and dark. Dave and myself on dually’s, Lee on his cool Focus hardtail and Craig on his Surly Long Haul Trucker. After some Mindless Banter™ – mostly about how chilly it was, and jibes about Dave and myself not having lights we set off shortly before 0630.
The other three headed up the road and then wondered where I had got to. Having done this ride before I knew the way. I did the first half klick on the track whilst the others plodded up the road and then joined the track. Jumpers and jackets were discarded shortly afterwards. The 7km or so to Mundaring township is mostly wide-ish sniggletrack , crosses the road a couple of times and very pleasant to ride, even uphill. It was dark, with just enough moonlight, and a bit of mist. A favourite part of any ride, we were just waiting for the Tauntauns to appear out of the white haze…
We negotiated the unsigned dogs-leg at Mt Helena with no hassles thanks to my prior knowledge. Most of the track is easy to follow but this intersection could be a trap for first timers.
Past the BMX jump track near Chidlow, the rest of us resisted Craig’s call to ride the jumps. I was keen not to break anything too early in the day.
The next section of flat path was dry but quite bumpy. In the not too distant past it seems a horse or two had been through here when it was wet and left many hoof marks which had now dried hard. Kind of like corrugations but different. Certainly not the most pleasant surface to ride on.
Went past Baker’s Hill and it’s pie shop. Plodding along at a steady pace, Dave starting to feel the effects of his limited saddle time of late and the previous day’s crit race.
Nearing Clackline there was a fun downhill run ending in a gully across a stream. Video
Six or seven kilometres of deserted road provided Craig with a chance to stretch his Surly’s legs necessitating him to wait for the rest of us at a lovely paddock edge. Reminded our two ex-pats of Wales apparently. It is quite scenic in parts and all the sheep were out with their lambs following them about. We continued on past the West Northam water tanks followed by a nice run of downhill sniggletrack just before Northam where I got the chance to open it up and show Craig he can’t beat me at everything on a bike. A cool, rough downhill, complete with dodgy pipe crossover (almost came unstuck here) before a short pathway blat into Northam town centre where the Garmin told me we had done 75km on the dot.
Not much doing in Northam on this lovely sunny Sunday. I was looking forward to the mountain bikers lunch of choice  but was sadly disappointed with what was on offer. A bakery, a cafe or Chicken Treat. We settled on the bakery which was empty when we arrived but within a minute of entering it was filled with more than a dozen locals. Purchases were made and we adjourned to the local park by the river to scoff down our sausage rolls, pies, buns, pastries, milk & Cokes.
After refilling CamelBaks and bottles we headed back out of town and climbed the steepest part of the ride. The rough track next to the pipeline wasn’t as hard going up as I thought it might be when I was barrelling down it earlier on, but was still a task after the recent belly filling.
A regroup at the Wales-esque paddock took place as the others waited for me, before the short roll down the road to Clackline. We waited there too as it seems Lee had a puncture. Craig went back to help him out with Dave and me heading off up the track. It wasn’t too long before Craig and Lee caught, then passed us and we were off the back again. This was the last time I saw Craig until I finished the ride! Lee I could see in the distance for a bit then he disappeared into the yonder again. I was struggling at this point but a short break and a few lollies gave me an energy burst and helped me catch up to where Dave had stopped and waited for me. He was knackered and inhaled his emergency gel and we had some more lollies to see us thru. A lady rider heading the other way said she hadn’t seen anyone else on the track. We figured Lee and Craig must’ve finished. We re-mounted , determined to finish off the day. Dave spent most of the remaining kilometres back to Mundaring township yo-yoing off the back of my wheel. I perked up once we reached the downhill sniggletrack back to the Hotel, this was the prize at the end of the day and we bombed down it, legs forgetting that we’d already asked 143km of them. We rolled into the carpark, and the band was playing in the pub across the road, with 150km on Mr Garmin.
Craig was waiting for us – and had been for 25 minutes! Strangely, Lee turned up a few minutes later than us. Turns out he stopped to fix another flat and then got lost, missing the dog leg mentioned previously at Mt Helena on the way back and started heading to John Forrest.
The ride was certainly harder on the dually than if I had taken the hardtail as previous, but the whole exercise was time in the saddle on the same bike I would do the Dwellingup100 on.
* A big thanks to Dave since he wrote most of this and I edited in my bits.
 “It’s 0600. What’s the O stand for? Oh my God, it’s early!” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam
 Meaningless MTB-OZ reference
 Sniggletrack = singletrack
 burger with the workx & chocolate milkshake
Now I’ve had a chance to recover I can tell you all about my adventures at the Dwellingup 100 (104). It was a long hard day but after finishing I can say it was a rewarding challenge.
After doing the Otway Odyssey back in Feb I also signed up for the BMC & Dirtworks 100s. Then I moved back to WA and with those 2 races on the east coast, I had to pull out. I was left with a void, at that time WA had no 100km enduro races. Thankfully soon after the Dwellingup 100 was announced. For some reason I have that sadistic gene in me that likes to punish myself with these enduro races, (I can’t really call them a race, as at my end of the field its just an achievement to finish) so I signed up. Comparing the courses I expected this one to be slightly easier than the Otways. I also talked my younger brother into doing the 40km event.
The weekend started with us heading south to Dwellingup on the friday to find our accommodation and settle in and prepare for the big day. Finding a place to stay was pretty tight with so many people going down for the event but we found a quaint little place just out of town called Froggy Creek. Plenty of room for all of us and a nice break from society.
Having registered, packed and organised ourselves on the Friday night meant we could sleep in a bit longer on the Saturday, pre-race briefing wasn’t til 0815 so plenty of time to get there. The event was based around the town’s football oval so parking wasn’t too much of an issue. As we arrived everyone was putting bikes together and getting themselves warmed up. Was going to be a big day and a lot of riders on the course early on. The briefing was the usual, stay safe, look after each other and the trails, fairly standard, but some people need the reminder (and others still didn’t listen to the take out what you take in). At this time we also found out that there would be an extra 4kms added to the first loop, meaning the 40 became 44 and the 100 became 104km. This was due to all the extra rain making 1 of the river crossings non negotiable, so we had to go around, no real biggy.
From here the 100km riders lined up for the start. We began with a self seeding lap of the oval, I just sat back and waited, I was never going to be at the pointy end of this race. This ended up being a good idea as someone went down with a bit of a domino effect at the front of the pack. Nothing major but enough to dent the ego. After the lap we headed out of town to hit the trails, a short trip on the main road then the Munda Biddi as we headed into the bush, things were a bit slow moving here as the field was still spreading out. The first 10km were pretty uneventful, then we hit 1 of the steepest climbs of the day which had most people resorting to the hike-a-bike method, no point cooking yourself on the first big hill. Most were still jovial at this point but a few 100km entrants realised this would not be as easy as expected and knew they would be stopping at the 40km mark.
Due to the recent rain parts of the course had some challenging muddy patches to negotiate as well as the deceptively deep puddles and creek crossings that brought a few people unstuck including a spectacular OTB right in front of me (if only I had a helmet cam). I continued on at a steady pace not wanting to go to hard to early, stopping occasionally for the odd stretch and nutrition break and a bit of a chat to fellow riders. gradually the front runners of the 40km race caught us. About the 25km mark I passed some poor guy who had come off and done his shoulder/collar bone (unsure how bad-hope it was ok, said he was fine), not good cos it was a long walk back. Soon after I came to a sweet downhill run with a few nasty roots that I think caught a few people out going by the off course divets. The next challenge was the timed climb and again many resorted to the hike-a-bike method, I rode the 1st half then went that option myself. Some parts required you to be a damn mountain goat to negotiate, kudos to anyone who actually rode the whole climb. If it wasn’t the gradient it was the mud that brought you unstuck (or got you stuck). The remainder of the 1st loop was nothing exciting as riding goes, but did provide a few spectacular views across the valleys around Nanga Brook.
On the trip back thru town to the transition point it was good to see spectators out showing their support to the competitors, and encouraging them to the finish/transition line. Here I had a short break to refill water and get some more food into me, there was still another 60km to go. My support team were waiting with the food & refreshments as were the event staff. I stocked up on the essentials, did some stretches and got a nice back rub before heading back out to tackle the north side of town.
The beginning of the north loop involved a few kms of the black stuff to get us to some of the sweetest singletrack that WA has to offer in the XC track at Turner Hill. This was 11kms of pure bliss (well normally it is, this afternoon it was a bit more painful due to the 55kms already ridden). Turner hill has it all, and you can decide for yourself how technical it gets depending on whether you choose the A or B line. Both offer a challenge to the rider. I just wish I had more in me at the time to really enjoy it like it should be. It also was the location of my 1st stack of the day, fatigue had set in a bit and I washed out a gravel corner landing on a stump. Such is life in MTBing. I also had another close encounter with a tree in Turner Hill but thats normal for me. I finished here with 10-15mins before the cut-off and knew I would be pushing the daylight hours at the finishline, along with the other few riders with me, we were the tailend.
From Turner Hill it was 30km back to town via Oakley Dam and the Marinup singletrack. This section involved a lot of gravel or sand based double track, which made life interesting on the fast downhill sections. And then it started to rain, not a lot but enough to make the trail stick and the rocks slippery. Midway between the dam and Marinup was the knarliest descent of the day, bad enough to have a sign at the top advising riders to dismount and walk. Judging by the shoe prints many did, I prefer to ride the downhills, I did enough walking up them. By the bottom though the brakes were a bit warm. By now the body had had enough and all my efforts were put into just getting back to town. That last 10-15kms was a bit of a struggle but at about 5kms to go I ran into Tony Tucknott (race organiser extraordinaire) and had a quick chat and catch my breathe. Then headed off for the final burst to town. Coming into town was a great feeling, you knew it was almost over and you could unclip and stop pedalling.
As I came down the finishers lane – which had now become a quagmire – to the line, the presentations where just kicking off and my support crew were there to welcome me and cheer me across the line. I had finally finished and boy was I glad to get out of the saddle.
I got my finishers medal and t-shirt (not that midget M will ever fit me) and almost crumbled on the ground, the legs (and back) had had enough and knew they didn’t have to go any further. From here I grabbed something to eat and went across for the rest of the presentations. The winners had smashed it in at under 5hrs, making my 8hrs+ look very average. After the presentations it was back to Froggy Creek for a nice hot shower and a good hearty feed before some board games with the family (which wifey and I dominated) and then a good night’s sleep.
Before I finish though I must put a big shoutout to Tony Tucknott (from Perth Mountain Bike Club) and crew with the help of Tri-Events, whom put this marvelous event together. The ball was set rolling 11 months ago and they have done a great job to get this off the ground and do it so well. The course was demanding but fun including a bit of everything to keep it interesting. Course markings were some of the best I have seen and the organisation was almost flawless. Also many thanks to the volunteers that helped out through out the day with marshalling and timing etc, without them events like this don’t run so smoothly. My only qualms for the day were the 0830 start time, most enduro events kickoff about 0700-0730 (I am assuming this was to cater for people driving from Perth for the day) and the finishers t-shirt sizing. They were very small sizes and if you were at the slower end of the field you got stuck with a medium leg warmer. Guess I’ll have to fix that next year by riding faster.
But all in all it was a great event that in time could rival the big east coast 100km enduros for numbers and really show how much WA can put on a show. Hope to see you all there again next year and if you missed it this year, mark it on the calendar for 2010.
GPS trace for the day (yes i know it shows less than 100km but that seems to be a common thing for me on long rides with the 705, if you know how to tune the accuracy let me know).
Well with the Dwellingup 100 fast approaching i thought i really should get in a training ride or 2, and with a mate just getting a new MTB bike (he’s a roadie), what better a time than today. Myself and a few friends from Twitter decided to head down to Langford Park, Jarrahdale for a few hours, have a bit of training ride and induct the noob into the world of MTBing.
The weather was looking ok, no rain on the radar, but with the previous days rain the track would be fun. Lee stopped in on the way to pick me, no point using 2 cars to go to the same place when he live sup the road and we headed south. We got to the meet point on time and had to wait for Dave, who needs to remember the road keeps going :p Ended up finding him down the road in the main carpark where a few others had come along to ride the trails.
Heading out we decided to follow the signage and make use of the Wembley 6hr course from a little while back, this would be easiest in case anyone got lost. The course was still really easy to follow and in good condition except for a few low spots where water had built up. Most of the trail held pretty well except for a few of the wet spots being muddy and slippery, normally the dry gravel can be loose and on the edge.
The day was fairly uneventful, except an early trip into the scrub by myself (think i was still waking up at that point) and further down the track Lee got a bit keen over a jump and gave himself a nice graze to the forearm. Nothing that isn’t expected when having a thrash on the MTB.
After a lap and a half of the course is was time to head home as we all had other commitments for the day, if only weekends were longer. But we left with a parting quote from Lee – “I’m selling my road bike and going MTBing every weekend” if only all roadies had this presence of mind…. 🙂