Waroona to Mandurah 1996

Waroona to Mandurah, day 12, Saturday 26 October 1996. I didn’t need to wake up or get going early, so after a nice breakfast enjoyed while reading and watching TV video hits, followed by another swim, then a hot shower, I rode away from the motel at 8:56.



The problem with the ratchet in the cluster, which hadn’t got much worse since Kojonup, took a turn for the worse this morning. In addition, I was getting along in top gear, the smallest cog on the cluster, and what started to happen now was that if I stopped pedalling the chain would suddenly flip back as though something had been wound up. This flipping could be so sudden that the chain would come off. I would have to get off the bike and find a couple of sticks, to avoid dirtying my hands, and lever it back on.

The first time it happened I had just ridden over a bump and thought that the shock from that had knocked the chain off. That was the only time the chain actually came off on this day, but there were several flips and I realised that these could take the chain off. I had ridden bumpier roads without losing the chain. I hadn’t noticed this problem at all on the long ride to Waroona the previous day. Maybe I hadn’t ridden enough in top gear to make it apparent.

Winds were NE changing later to SE and SW near the coast, but I felt good and didn’t feel resisted. I took a rest at 1592, rode through Pinjarra without stopping, as I did so passing the motel where I had spent the first night of the ride (the dogs were there, waiting about for targets), then turned left onto the Mandurah road.

I had another drink-stop at Ravenswood, 1607, after which I waited for a tractor that was coming slowly along, half on the road and half on the gravel shoulder, to get past, before mounting up and spinning the pedals until they caught. I assumed that he would be going faster than me. I was wrong – he was only doing about 25 kph and I caught up to him quite quickly. At a suitable opportunity I overtook the tractor and gradually left it behind.

Approaching Mandurah, with its recent rapid growth, I had to pass through seven sets of traffic lights within the last few km. This was when the problem with the ratchet really started to become a nuisance. In the country proper there is no need to stop pedalling during the 15 – 20 km between drink-stops. But I was getting into the region of stop-start riding or driving, whether for traffic lights or stop signs or pedestrian crossings, and every time I stopped pedalling I had trouble getting started again. And if I had been travelling in top gear for some time, if I stopped pedalling the chain would flip. It wasn’t until the next day that I realised that this only happened in top gear.

I rolled to a stop in front of the old Brighton Hotel at 11:15, 1622.2. I had been surprised and pleased the day before to find that it was still open and taking bookings. I had not been able to get an ensuite room because they were all booked out. The place is popular. In 1994 there had been a scheme to pull it down and replace it with a cinema complex and shopping centre, and I was sad because of its association with my early rides in the 1970s. But maybe they will keep it going for heritage reasons.

If so, it will need a bit of work. It is always clean but the hot water system is not efficient, mattresses are lumpy and sag in the middle and there is a pervasiveness of disrepair. The dining room is still the same, with those dark pictures painted straight onto the peeling wallpaper that covers the ceiling as well as the walls. It must have been there for decades. I remember it in 1977. It looks like the sort of eccentricity that people indulge in when they want to knock a few thousand dollars off the value of their house.

I got into my room, which was really dark. The only window opened not to the outside, but to a passage. I had thoughts of trying to sleep while people stomp, stomped back and forth. However, this passage led nowhere except to a bolted door that opened onto a narrow rickety wooden flight of steps that no-one was likely to use. And the room wasn’t far from the bathroom. I chose the bed that had the flattest mattress. I prowled around, since it was early, looking for rooms that were still open, being cleaned. No-one was about and I was able to score a couple of coathangers for my washing and a spare towel and a spare blanket to fold and put on top of the mattress against the bumps and hollows.

I rested, then rode the 1.8 km to an ocean beach that I know, a little way north of the Atrium hotel, and had a delicious swim. Then I went back for my tepid shower. The bathroom had changed so little that I had strong memories of 1977 and 1979.

I hung my washing on the old upstairs wooden verandah, on corroded disused light fittings, one of which broke, dropping my shirt in a pile of bird poo just beneath the light. I had to wash it again.

I looked around the shops and bought another postcard. There was no need to buy food because help-yourself breakfast is included in the price at the Brighton and there were plenty of restaurants in the town. On the last night of a ride I always have a celebratory dinner in a restaurant. On this occasion it was a nice Chinese one near the Atrium hotel. It was not the oily restaurant that nearly destroyed my insides in 1994.

As in 1994 I went to the under-deck of the old bridge to watch the fishing, if any. A cold wind was blowing powerfully from the south-west, which seeemd promising for next day; to have such a wind still going after sunset suggested that it would start early the next morning. But the current was flowing just as powerfully in the opposite direction. When anything was thrown into the water it would go flying out on the breeze, then get dragged rapidly back towards and under the thrower.

I hoped that Fred, the expert fisherman I met there in 1994, would show up with his dog and we could have another chat as he hauled in salmon trout two at a time. I had seen him and his dog and his bike at the Brighton earlier in the day. But he didn’t show, and people who were there weren’t catching anything and were going home early. It wasn’t the same as in 1994. Nothing ever is the same as a previous happy time. I went back to the hotel. The light in the guest TV lounge didn’t go on. The TV worked but I had missed the start of ‘The Bill’ and just went back to my room and read my book before settling down to sleep.

Reading at Mandurah: 1625.9. Day’s ride: 48 km. Aggregate 761. Kpd 63.4. Kph to Mandurah 19.3 (spoiled by traffic lights and ratchet problem).

Charles A. Pierce

Other Days on this Tour:

  1. Kelmscott to Rocky Gully Tour 1996
  2. Kelmscott to Pinjarra 1996
  3. Pinjarra to Harvey 1996
  4. Harvey to Donnybrook 1996
  5. Donnybrook to Bridgetown 1996
  6. Bridgetown to Nyamup 1996
  7. Nyamup to Rocky Gully 1996
  8. Rocky Gully to Kojonup 1996
  9. Kojonup to Boscabel 1996
  10. Boscabel to Darkan 1996
  11. Darkan to Collie 1996
  12. Collie to Waroona 1996
  13. Waroona to Mandurah 1996
  14. Mandurah to Cottesloe 1996

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