100km bike ride on the Kwinana Freeway PSP

In lieu of the Karri Cup being cancelled due to covid-19, and region restrictions in place here in Western Australia preventing us from still travelling down to Pemberton, I set about completing my first 100 km ride.

Fortunately we are still allowed to go out and exercise and there is a great network of bike paths around the city to explore. The ride route would be along the sign posted bike path (PSP as it is called in WA) that follows the Kwinana Freeway. The recently completed sections meant it would be a straight ride all the way down to the suburb of Baldivis from Perth. This ride covers the urban sprawl of Perth with some remaining bush areas home to the local birdlife. The elevation over 100 km is relatively low coming in at 438m. The pit stop half way during the 100kms is a short distance from the Kwinana Freeway at Bike Place Baldivis.

Shortly before 7:30 am I set off solo from Perth through the cool autumn air and over the Swan River. Normally I would take the bike path all the way to Cranford Ave, however as a result of the covid19 restrictions this area is now even more popular on weekend mornings making it bit difficult to practice social distancing, so I hop over to the South Perth side taking quiet roads all the way to Canningbridge and then another road on the Mount Pleasant side. The detour is peaceful and makes an easier transition into a steady pace.

I pass the Leach highway train station, the first of a couple on the Mandurah train line that runs through the middle of the freeway. Over recent years the freeway has continually undergone works to widen in a effort to keep up with the growing use of vehicles. Valuable bushland has been removed and in some parts the freeway abuts river sanctuaries and people’s homes. I wonder when the state’s thinking will change to encourage a more sustainable approach to moving around. Cycling alongside the freeway close to moving vehicles and trains does highlight these issues even more and lately during covid19, at a time when people are getting outside closer to home it seems that it might be possible to turn the congestion around.

The banskia woodlands have a busy bird life and as I ride new holland honeyeater birds dart from one tree to the next. It is beautiful to ride through this in the city.

Around Farrington road, the path widens and there is a break from what has been a straight path thus far to a fun curved descent and ascent. I cycle along the newly laid path through South Lake and the Cockburn central area where the view morphs into great walls and power transformers. Black Cockatoos in the distance manage to shriek above the city noises.

Between Wattleup and Baldivis, patches of bush and semi rural properties pop up along with billboards of land sales and beer. Orb spiderwebs have spun webs high above the path and dragon flies move in front of the handlebars. I spot one quenda dart into the cover of a shrub.

As I reach the 40 km point and have been cycling on one path with long views ahead, a mind game plays to challenge the thoughts of the long way to go. Patience is a quality nurtured in cycling. It will pass, it always does and in the meantime a guy cycles by, ‘keep up the good work’ he says. Soon enough I return to a pleasurable coast at a consistent pace. One of positive aspects about riding some of these PSPs that follow the long highways is being able to set that faster pace and sprint knowing visibility ahead is great.

Eventually the path curves around a mega service station with a MacDonald’s and Red Rooster, the thought about some salted potato chips is tempting, but I’m not far away from the planned pit stop so I keep moving.

I exit the bike path veering right onto Safety Bay road towards Bike Place Baldivis which also serves drinks and snacks. Standing outside adhering to the new takeaway restrictions, I sip on my long mac alone.

Ready to go and with new found energy from the delicious long mac coffee, I am about to embark on the remainder of the ride on the same path and hopefully reaching the 100km mark towards the city.

I slap on some zinc cream, release some electrolytes in the water bottle and begin the return trip, knowing exactly the area I need to cover now. In my mind, I set visual milestones like a bridge or a hill to prevent me from falling back into a slower pace. Riding solo can be a challenge in itself, especially not having someone there to distract from the fatigue. The natural views along the way inspire me to press on.

As midday approaches the sun is quite warm and it is felt most on the urban sections. I’m regretting ignoring my first wake up alarm and not departing earlier.

When the path passes through a bush area, the air is much cooler and refreshing. The headwind isn’t a big deal today but I wonder what it would be like for the 51km return to the city.

I chip away at the kilometres all the way back to the city on what has been a great ride. I am 3kms short of reaching the 100km goal when there is a cracking sound and the rear tyre deflates rapidly. I discover a piece of glass has shred the tyre beyond repair. The next 3 kms I run to make up the 100 km, hiking the bike would have happened in the Karri Cup so I figure running will suffice!

The silver lining to these covid-19 restrictions is discovering some new areas in Perth to cycle.Although I prefer riding on trails in the bush, coasting along a highway PSP on this route was good fun and presented new views and challenges to experience.

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