Late last year Julie Cowperthwaite rode from Perth to Albany in support of Alzheimer’s WA. Read Julie’s story below.
I recently lost both my parents and several aunts and uncles to Alzheimer’s disease, giving me reason to ride the Munda Biddi solo from Perth to Albany in October 2019 to raise money for Alzheimer’s WA .
I packed light, with tools, first aid and everything for keeping warm, dry and fed kept to less than 14 kilograms. On my very first day out from Mundaring I met John*. I was sitting outside having a cuppa at the Pickering Brook General Store when John came over with his carer. We discussed my plans and the set-up of my bike several times and he wished me well on my travels. The carers who were with John and other residents with dementia gave me donations for the cause and reaffirmed my reason to ride.
The ride was exhilarating, sometimes tough, occasionally lonely, and filled with many chance meetings with other riders. The huts provided on the trail are simple yet homely with a drop toilet and water available. I had several to myself. At Yarri hut in Collie I shared with four year 12 students and their teachers from a Perth school. It was great to see such a lovely bunch of young gentlemen enjoying the nature, but even with the extra body heat in the hut it was one degree overnight and it took until 9am for my fingers to thaw out!
In Nannup at the half way point I camped at Nannup Caravan Park as I was a meeting a friend there the next day who would ride to Donnelly Village with me. In the pub at night I had two beers and a big bowl of pasta. The next morning my mum came to check in on me in the form of a beautiful lady called June. She came over as I was packing up and asked if I was ok as she saw me in the pub alone having a beer and noticed I had already had a bottle of wine empty on the table!! I quickly explained the wine was from the previous table occupants. How funny! She was the same name and age as my mum. I told her she had made my trip so far and she kindly donated towards Alzheimer’s WA.
The ride winds southwards through our beautiful state and I got to experience the wildlife and nature at its best with emus, kangaroos, snakes, goannas, bandicoots and so many birds. The fragrances of the bush and its beautiful flowers were intoxicating at times. It was a constant reminder to enjoy the here and now, and the world around us. It was also a great opportunity to ride into some of our beautiful trail towns and enjoy the hospitality there, like Dwellingup, Quinninup and Northcliffe. I finished the ride in Albany after 20 days riding over 1,000 km. With all the support from my friends, family and kind strangers I raised $1,900 towards Alzheimer’s WA of which I am so proud.
I wrote a daily journal as I went and I hope I remember this ride!