Safety

Dangers on the Munda Biddi Trail

If you intend riding to the Munda Biddi Trail on the roads, make sure you are very visible to vehicles coming behind you. Wear bright clothing or a hi vis vest and put on a very bright rear tail light. Ride predictably and stay very aware, especially if you are tired.

Factors you can control

Falling off - take it slow, especially if loaded up. You must wear a bike helmet in WA and gloves and good footwear are really recommended. On a multi day ride, many riders will fall off - the extra weight of panniers or a trailer affects your balance, and the pea gravel and fatigue often combine to bring even experienced riders down.

Dehydrating - drink more than you think you need. You will most probably consume a lot more water than you may expect, even in cooler months. In Summer, you could consume enormous amounts (the most I have drunk in a day is 7 litres!). Do not plan to get water at any streams on the map, as they are usually dry. Signs pointing to water are usually for fire fighting purposes, so only useable in desperate situations. Water is at huts or towns only (recommended that it is treated at huts).

Sun burn - you will be suddenly spending more time in the sun than normal. You must have a 50+ SPF sunscreen, and sun glasses, long sleeve shirts, a neck protector (neckerchief), gloves etc are useful.

Sticks in the eye - wear eye protection like sunglasses.

Getting lost - you have got maps, you've checked here for diversions and you have my route summary sheets or my .gpx files? That should minimise the risk. An EPIRB or PLB is a great back up too - The Munda Biddi Trail Foundation hire them out.

Factors you can't easily control

Riding to or from the Trail on the road- I think this is the biggest danger involved in your ride! Keep left, be visible and ride predictably.

Motor bikes on trail - Rarely seen but get off the Trail as they may not be able to stop or avoid you.

Cars on the Trail - Some parts of the Trail are open to cars so keep left, be visible and ride predictably.

On coming cyclists - extremely rare, but keep aware on narrow single track. You will want to stop for a chat I am sure, especially in remote parts.

Fire - Bush fire is seldom seen, but if you get caught up in a fire it could be catastrophic. I have seen the evidence of recent fires several times. One was on map 8 in Dec 2014 and was a planned burn that closed Jinung hut. The other time was on Map 1 in May 2013. I think that was an unplanned fire as the trail had not be closed and it was still smoking when we rode through the next day after a night of rain! I have not heard of cyclists ever getting caught in a bush fire, but that does not mean it could not happen (there were Ultra marathon runners burnt by bush fire in the Kimberly region in 2011). For what to do in case of a bush fire, consult the Munda Biddi Trail maps (they have some detailed actions which I will not repeat here) or visit DPaW here.

In February 2015, Northcliffe was threatened by a massive bush fire, the biggest in living history. This fire had a perimeter of 240km, and came within 1 km of the town. In the interest of safety, the section of trail and all huts from Pemberton to Walpole (some of Map 6 and all of Map 7) were closed with no diversion in place. This was a total of 175km. The South West Highway was also closed to all traffic. Another fire at the same time had closed the trail from Dwellingup on Map 2 to Ferguson Rd on Map 4 - a distance of 219 km. This meant nearly 400 km of the Trail was closed at one time, or 40%, without diversions in place. Both were massive fires that threatened towns, property and lives and were elevated to the status of "Emergency". One hut was damaged (Yirra Kartta) and approximately 70 km of Trail was burnt out.
I highly recommend not riding the Trail in the hottest part of the year.

As the Yirra hut is being rebuilt (estimated to be ready in early 2016) the hut notice board is being written to include safety information and actions regarding fire. Eventually all 12 huts will be updated with this information.

To get warnings and alerts on the trail, download the app from DPaW at parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/alerts

Wild life

Snakes - Are usually gone before you see them. However, avoid them as much as possible. Lift your legs up and keep riding by. It is better to ride over them than crash on top of them. Be aware a run over snake will often lunge at the second rider more than the first, as a bike will rarely kill them, but it will damage them severely. I see snakes mainly on rail trail. I think this is because the rail trail is a strip of sun lit path in the bush, and snakes will come out of the bush to bask on it. Single track is usually in the shade, so offers no attraction for them and gravel roads are too exposed for snakes to rest on. We do sell a snake and spider bite kit in our shop - it may put your mind at rest to carry one. See here.

Flies - The small bush flies are annoying, especially in farm areas in Summer. Chances are you will swallow a few on your ride, but they are just extra protein and not harmful. Bring fly repellent if you want, or ride faster - you can out run them pretty easily. But they will find you when you stop! March flies are a bigger, biting fly, but they are not much of a problem most of the time.

Mosquitos - Parts of the South West of WA has Ross River virus. It causes flu like symptoms with fever and a rash that can linger for years. It is transmitted by mosquitos, so it is important to avoid their bite. They mainly attack at dawn and dusk, so cover up with long sleeved shirts and trousers, and wear a repellant.

Spiders - Huntsmans are big and hairy but not poisonous, but they have been attributed with causing the most spider related deaths in Australia (How? They will climb into cars, hide under the sun visor, then when the driver flips the visor down the spider drops on their lap, causing many drivers to panic and crash). I have never seen a posionous red back spider at the huts. There are never many creepy crawlers in the huts - I wonder if they were sprayed when assembled?

Wild pigs - I have seen a few of those and prefer to keep well away as will be very aggressive if they feel their young are threatened.

Carry a first aid kit.

The main components are:

  1. Major bleed - stop with a big gauze pad and bandage, or a triangular bandage
  2. Grazes - band aids, non stick gauzes
  3. Antiseptic - cream, liquid etc
  4. Bumb cream - prevents sores
  5. Tablets - pain killers, anti inflammatory, anti diarrhea etc

See our customised cyclists first aid kits here.

This page is the property of Follow My Ride, a website detailing off road cycle tracks near Perth and in Western Australia.