23 June – 7 July 2015
After some great weeks in Margaret River, it was time to ride the 300k north to Perth where I would once again stay with Ray in his house in Swanbourne about 10k southwest of the city centre. With the biking around Perth my Australian total is now up to 9.300k and the total trip up to 30.500k.
It had been raining a lot the previous week so I took advantage of the short window of opportunity when the front changed – the forecast predicted overcast and some sun but no rain – and then of course the ever present headwind. I got up at 7.30 but as always, we got into a long conversation so it was 10.30 before I left navigating the constant rolling hills 45k to Dunsborough through forest and past farmland and vineyards. It’s considered a scenic route – and I’m sure it is at other times of the year – but on this overcast Winter day with no leaves on the vines, it wasn’t very interesting. From Dunsborough it was flat to Busselton partly riding a rare good bike lane, which occasionally went along the ocean. While having lunch in Busselton, I tried to get advice to stay on smaller coastal roads but as I didn’t get convincing recommendations, I continued on the highway – horrible shoulder but at least it was flat and mostly in the sun on this cool, windy day. Everything was fenced so I was lucky to find a small, unfenced forest 10k before Bunbury.
On recommendation, I rode around Bunbury and continued 15k on a backroad along a lovely inlet until it merged with the highway. Already after 30k I felt weak and needed a chocolate break - I’m not sure why (maybe lack of body fat) but certainly not promising soon riding 4,500k to Darwin. Neither was the pain in my knee and buttocks – apparently the break hadn’t helped much. Shortly after I had an early lunchbreak at Myalop Roadhouse where I also got water – it didn’t taste too bad but as it later turned out it was bad bore water that my stomach had to work overtime to digest. About 30k later I turned left on highway 1 referred to as the coastal road because it’s closer than another highway though it’s still kilometres from the ocean. Less traffic so I could occasionally ride the slightly better road (than shoulder) – it went from farmland to forest and I saw many green parrots all too shy to have their pictures taken. I wanted to camp before bigger town Mandurah so I was running early and took the time to do a scenic route – I had low expectations but it turned out to be very nice along another inlet. I ended up camping on a hill 10k before Mandurah.
Next morning I went through Mandurah and north on the big highway past Rockingham towards Fremantle – a boring inland ride straight into another 30-40 k/h headwind and yet again I needed an early chocolate break. The last 15k to Fremantle I went on smaller roads and bike lanes to stay as close as possible to the ocean passing beaches and countless newly developed areas. Fremantle is a notorious tourist attraction with it’s history and many beautiful old buildings (the first settlement on the Swan River from 1829). The last 10k to Ray’s house I mostly rode on a bike lane along the ocean – lovely views in the afternoon sun along the Indian Ocean.
The first handful of days in Perth were very nice, so on a beautiful Sunday I did a 60k bike trip around town with Ray – a lovely ride through famous King’s Park and the downtown area and afterwards up and down the Swan River through countless upscale neighbourhoods providing many stunning views. Perth is a bicycle friendly city with its countless bike lanes on roads, through parks and along the river – the only thing still missing is the “right of way”. Besides more conversations with Ray, family and friends, my time went with lots of practicalities amongst other updating my website and uploading pictures to my cloud, research for biking Asia, bike cleaning/maintenace and clothes repair as well as stocking up since there is very limited civilisation along the way. It was good timing now that it was raining every day - even delaying my departure a number of days. And great to finally have a kitchen to cook some solid meals and gaining a bit of weight - not as much as I would have liked for the long stretch to Darwin but better than nothing.
Despite countless attempts, I was not allowed to correspond directly with the bike manufacturer Koga, but had to go through my Danish dealer which slowed the process significantly partly because of email delay and partly because of insufficient specifications of what documentation/photos were required for the warranty (every time I sent something they wanted more). Finally, after 6 weeks – my dealer wrote that – Koga had indicated they would honour their frame guarantee - only I needed to send a photo of the broken part dismantled. I honestly don’t understand why as the existing photos clearly showed the part broken from the frame – company policy for policy? For obvious reasons I wouldn’t do that as it seemed unlikely I could get the broken part back in the exact right position to tape/cable tie it. And there was no real alternative as welding was out of the question. I’ve talked to many knowledgeable people and they all say there’s a big risk of more damage than good because of the complications welding aluminium. Consequently, I’m heading out hoping the frame will last the 4,500k to Darwin and when I send Koga a photo of the dismantled part from there, they will send a new frame to me in Singapore.
As mentioned earlier, I had little motivation for the ride from Adelaide to Perth and it hasn’t changed much continuing towards Darwin. According to the weather forecast it will be warm/sunny as I get further north (+30C daytime and below 20C at night) but unfortunately I’ll likely have a headwind most of the way. However, this time there is a “prize” at the end as the desolate Australian ride will be over and a new chapter of my journey can begin in Asia.