Ride Report

WA: Mandurah – Dwellingup 100km Permanent

Audax Theme

The Mandurah Dwellingup Permanent 100km ride takes riders east from the coastal plain up to the Darling Range, through Alcoa’s mostly unseen bauxite mining operations and along relatively quiet roads lined with flowering gums early in the year, the odd kangaroo, and the sounds of cockatoos before returning with a fast run down the scarp and a flat cruise to the start point at Mandurah Train Station.

I have ridden the roads making up this route several times as they are fairly common cycling routes for Mandurah-based cyclists. This was my first ‘permanent’ Audax ride.  After recent days with temperatures in the mid-30s, the forecast 26 degrees for Sunday 16 February 2020 was a good choice to do the ride.

The start point, Mandurah Train Station, was devoid of people at 6am as I rode off past the very rusty steel ‘Shirley Shell’ sculpture just after dawn.  With a theme of coast and beach, the sculpture represents a tuart tree and a shell. At three stories high it is hard to miss – some love it, some don’t.

One minute into the ride and the momentum lost already. Traffic lights at the Murdoch Drive/Mandurah Road intersection.  Don’t you hate it when, despite a marked bike lane with sensors, the sensors don’t sense a bike! Attempted to do the right thing despite traffic being non-existent, tried to trigger the sensors, before just riding across the deserted intersection.

Then it was play dodge the glass … a lot of glass.  Having no punctures during the ride I must have successfully avoided the numerous scatterings of glass over the next five kilometres or my gatorskins proved their worth again. Interesting that the other side of the roads on the reverse return route (heading west) through the Mandurah suburbs was thankfully glass free.

The ride out to Pinjarra and then North Spur Road in the cool of the morning with little wind and through the flat pastoral land was really pleasant and allowed a decent pace which I needed knowing I would be crawling up the scarp very soon.  It was also good to turn off Lakes Road as heading east into the sun at just after dawn I had trouble seeing what was ahead at one stage so too the cars coming up from behind. Road works along Lakes Road, and the widening and resurfacing of Paterson Road that has been going on for months continues.

Left at sleepy Pinjarra before turning off the South West Highway onto Alcoa Road. At this point I noticed the SE wind was picking up then fading way and the bauxite processing smell from the Alcoa mining operation.  I hadn’t experienced the smell when riding this route before, not as bad as Kwinana or road kill I passed, but glad it lasted only a kilometre or two.

As I turned into North Spur Road and knew the climbing was about to start, I swear the two alert kangaroos in the paddock were shooting me that ‘bloody idiot’ look. As usual, I crawled up the North Spur’s initial inclines, particularly that 12% bit.  My lack of hill riding over the past couple of months made it worse than normal.  Confession – I stopped once to catch my breath before enduring to the eventual top where there was a great view towards the south and over more of the Alcoa operations (stopped for photo).

Now the best bit started, achievable undulating road with a good surface, lots of trees and birds about.  Over the mining conveyor belt which goes for miles then right, up a bit of a hill before the mostly down hill run on Del Park Road into Dwellingup.  Stopped for the compulsory emu photo.

A lot of the area around the tourist information centre building, car park and toilets was fenced off due to new building works. Looks like a new tourist centre being built.  Apparently there was a log chopping competition in town the day before and there were portable toilets near the fenced area somewhere but I didn’t see them.  So I continued onto the popular Blue Wren Café for a quick stop, topped up my water, few bites of yummy cake, and got the obligatory checkpoint receipt.  Halfway point, 51kms done.

With ideal riding conditions, I headed off north enjoying the undulating Del Park Road through Dwellingup State Forrest. I had a bit of courteous traffic passing me, but mostly the cars and mass of motor bikes were heading towards Dwellingup.

This section seemed to go quick.  There are still road surfacing works on this 20km or so road, but there was no gravel section this time just smooth bitumen. Just nice cycling country. Lots of trees, shade across a lot of the road, nice down-hill bits, doable but not easy (for me) up-hills, song and sight of birds and a touch of a tail wind.

Past South Dandalup Dam turn-off, over another section of the Alcoa mining ore conveyor belt, then North Dandalup Dam turn-off before rolling down the Scarp with views to the ocean on a clear day.

Another quick checkpoint stop at Del Park Service Station before waiting for a freight train to clatter past on the Lakes Road rail crossing.  Now down on the flat coastal plain, the cross wind from the south was very noticeable as was the heat reflecting off the road.  The ride back into Mandurah along Lakes Road was a bit of a warm slog as the cross wind turned into a fresh SW headwind.  Definitely a head wind confirmed by the windsock at Murrayfield Airport. With the widening and resurfacing of some of Lakes Road, the road accommodates cyclists a lot better now.

I rolled back into the relatively quiet Mandurah Train Station at 11.15am, stopping for a minute to save the ride on my garmin – 101km, 776m elevation. Happy with my lot, I took off for the 3.5km ride home appreciative that Audax WA has permanent rides in my local area.