Sunday morning I set off on the Kalamunda 50 race from Core Cider House in the Perth hills, the wintry chill in the air no longer in focus as the group of 500 strong riders forged ahead on the bitumen towards dirt tracks and a selection of the Kalamunda Collective trails. On mountain bikes we head in the direction towards Mount Gunjin and while I thought the bitumen section would thin out the group, it remained compact with visibility of the ground ahead slightly obscured, I follow the line choice of the rider in front of me, moving forward as a train. The line of riders stop for some reason along a gentle sloping single track and it was just enough to catch my breath before slowing recommencing the ride through the trees.
The hill leading up to Mount Gunjin rises up in front and with a bit of space around me, I manage to pass a few riders and straight into descent mode along Judderbars connecting to Alchemy. It’s not a super confident descent and I’m passed on the left and right, the left again by a few riders. We cross a road, meander through Metasoma and around to Feral Groove car park linking straight into Up, Up and Away, one switchback at a time. I’m on the tail of two riders and the pace is great. A descent pursues on Scorpion which has me griping the handlebars so tightly, it’s feature packed with wall berms, rocks, a log ride and much more.
I make my way down FJ in a reverse direction, it is peculiar but a great deal of fun in a descent format. My orientation is a bit out of wack so I keep a keen eye out for markers and make my way up another leg burning hill before turning into Camikazi. This trail is the saving grace and a new found motivation kicks in as I maintain a good pace on this descent. After Camikazi there is some serious, continuous uphill action all the way back to the other side of the Dell. Horny Devil was a pleasant interlude before rounding a corner for another uphill battle on ground peppered with rocky craters. I thought we might have to climb to the very top of the power line hill but the race organisers had a better plan, sending us into a short descent down Hacketts Gully. The last 10kms disappear as a blur and I finished the epic ride where it all started, at the Core Cider House. It was a well done effort for everyone, 50 km on a decent portion of mountain bike specific single track, drawing on arm, core and leg strength in a race format of over 1,000 metres gained in elevation. I was surely ready for the biggest glass of cold cider available, but that would happen in 30 minutes time as patience is a virtue, and our prepaid cider vouchers were not enough to bypass the queue. Core Cider House is a popular choice on a sunny Sunday and with good reason too, it was nice to relax on the grass listening to live music performances with a cold drink.
I knew Kalamunda 50 was going to be a big challenge for all the physical reasons, however a couple of days before the race I lost a friend unexpectedly and it was heavily on my mind. I considered pulling out, though in the end I decided to go ahead in the race in his memory.
Thank you to the event organisers, Kalamunda Collective, the marshals and the families that come along and create such a lively atmosphere that spur us on. I can’t wait for the next installation of the WA XCM Series.