Posted on November 16 2019
Dreams that turn to reality are so precious.
Writing about where one lives seems strange, difficult, so little yet so much, where to start. Whereas a journey or an event there is a start, a finish, seems simple in comparison. I want to do this to reflect the beauty of the place and how fortunate we are to be here, plus as a record, a piece of history.
Dunsborough, located in the South West of Western Australia, is a holiday village and home to a wonderfully eclectic group of people. It is part of the larger City of Busselton region. In rough terms, and if travelling by bike the bridge over the Toby’s Inlet is the eastern boundary, the coast is the western and northern boundary, and Cowaramup southern. In worldly terms we are one of the oldest continually populated areas, but also one of the youngest western civilisations. The indigenous Wardandi people have lived in Quedjinup (their name for the area) for over fifty thousand years, fished the waters, cared for the land. I feel we, the westerners, are finally coming to terms with this fact and respecting their skills and culture.
We have lived here for 16 years, though Jen has deeper roots going back to her early childhood of annual holidays exploring the shorelines of Geographe Bay. It would be expected that living on the coast in Western Australia the view would be west, but Dunsborough is on the Geographe Bay and in fact faces east. This means protection from the prevailing winds, that large marri and jarrah trees grow quite close to the shore, that the waters are often glassy calm, roses tend to grow extremely well, and the moon and sun rising over the bay is a real treat.
In many ways Dunsborough meant a new start for us. Amongst the changes was an assessment of Greg's knee. The diagnosis was not good, but a window of opportunity was mentioned that cycling may help, not just a ride down to the shops but some serious fitness and kilometres. Jen jumped at the thought of riding the hills of Yallingup and Quedjinup, pointed the motivation stick at Greg, and we joined a youngish group of cyclists mustered up by the BikeShed.
A quick leap to today after thousands of bike kilometres in 6 states of Australia and numerous cycling tours overseas. In town organised rides are three times a week generally …. not that organised or formal that it is compulsory, but everyone sort of knows where everyone is if you aren’t there. Different characteristics seem to define different groups. There is the non-lycra arty academic group that sometimes sneak in a piece of lycra, the group that are not too keen on group rides but group ride, the late to rise bikepath groups that test out other venues for coffee and keep the walkers (and dogs) on their toes, the individuals or couples that haven’t linked up with the locals yet but love the quiet roads, and there is us – the group that group ride but not too sure which rolling to adopt and where speed, strength and the mind tend to sort us into 2 or 3 groups.
The terrain here is magnificent for riding, so many alternative quiet routes with relatively new and smooth tarmac, some flat and some with total ascents that challenge the European numbers (though very different in shape). They wind through cattle grazing, vineyards of varying stages of management asking the question ‘have they run out of money’ or ‘had a good year’, forested reserves with sneaky little gravel tracks, tree-change blocks with some amazing architecture and roads where trees line the sides like avenues forming giant archways for kilometre after kilometre leaving you wide eyed with amazement. The views, the smells, the sounds add to making even the coldest rides a joy to have done. There are however the roads that have the mind scrambling for encouragement, the legs screaming, the ‘deep breath’ roads …. the chill of Mewett Road on a wintry morning with the fog low on the road, the grind of the last hill on Hayes when meeting a group on Commonage, finding strength on Marrinup (just up from Shallows) when the strong easterly is blowing, and ‘chasing the tail’ up Yungarra rollercoaster – to mention a few.
The rides vary between 35 and 70 km in general, depends on the mood of the group. On any spring/summer/autumn Saturday 6.30am it is not unusual to have 40+ riders, locals and visitors, set off from Dunsborough Sports shop. Residents nearby the route often comment “must have been a big group, we could hear the happy chatter”. Yallingup Coffee on Hannay Lane is the go-to coffee at the end of the ride, filing in with varying statements on wildlife avoided, the sunrise, the traffic, or ‘thanks for bringing me home’. Sundays can be a longer and social tour style of ride, coffee, lunch or a few drinks on the way. Dunsborough is fortunate with its surrounds having a scattering of breweries, restaurants, wineries and chocolatiers, plus smaller towns with yummy cafes.
Inevitably and in good jest, the characters of each rider come to the fore, some more than others. Great for a chuckle …. the mountain goat that always takes on Sonning Loop, the left shoulder that dips when the pressure goes on, the rollicking of hips when the legs hurt, the burst out of the pack to blow the nose, the knicks that have been too thin for too long, the standout cadence of the ‘beating boy’, the ‘give you a spell’ take off, the Yungarra challenge …. and more tomorrow.
After the pain of getting up the early start is a winner. The day that follows is a bonus after a good chat on the road, exercise that sets all things regular, and a very healthy appetite that has no compromise.
Dunsborough and surrounds are an ideal landscape for the design and development of CONNAL Kit. A place with natural beauty abounding and an inspiring diverse community. We encourage you to see for yourself.
Cheers, Greg and Jen