Don’t let the name of this ride put you off. It’s called the Madness for purely historical reasons. I believe this course was once habitually ridden on a Wednesday afternoon after work so the pace was frenetic in order to get home before it got too dark. I wouldn’t know for sure – I was never invited along. In any case, the important thing to remember is that the Madness is not a ride; the Madness is a state of mind.
The Madness course. Click the picture to link to the Garmin course page.
It’s also the course favoured by many ERC riders when they head to the hills on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s easily accessible by following the Midland train line and has plenty of climbing but doesn’t start with one long climb as many other hills rides do.
One of the easiest ways of getting to the hills is by following the cycle path along the Midland train line. I met my co-rider Chong at the Maylands train station bright and early in the morning and we had the pleasure of watching the sun rise as we rode out to the start of the hills.
The cycle path takes you as far as Bassendean train station. From there, Railway Parade is usually nice and quiet then right on to Lord and left on to Guildford Road. It’s traditional to sprint across the bridge that leads into Guildford and once you are across there is a small bicycle lane until the road becomes two lanes again.
After Guildford, turn into Water Street (which becomes Bushmead Road), just after the Woodbridge Tavern. You can continue along Bushmead Road but an alternate route is to turn left into Stirling Crescent then right at the next roundabout and follow the cycle lanes through Midland until finally turning right onto Katharine Street. Either approach will get you to Scott Street.
On to Scott at the roundabout, then right into Marnott.
You are now in the hills and the fun begins. If you look at the course map at the top of this post, you can see this is the start of a big circuit. If you don’t want to ride out, you could always drive to Kalamunda or Mundaring, and do a loop from there. You could even do it in either direction – it’s a free country (although bear in mind that the Zig-Zag Scenic Drive is one-way only).
One nice thing about the Madness route is that it doesn’t start out with on long climb like many other hills rides do. Instead it has a few short, sharp climbs and quite a few places where you can slow down and recover a bit (or attack and make your co-riders suffer if you are so inclined). There are plenty of Strava sections along these roads for anyone who is so inclined.
The first little climb up Marriot Road is a chance to get out of the saddle and stretch the legs.
Coulston Road starts as a steady, low gradient climb where you can find a good rhythm and it slowly gets steeper as you approach Darlington. If you are in a group, you can show your pals how strong you are here or, if they beat you, tell them you are conserving your energy for the later parts of the ride.
Here’s some brand loyalty.
After Coulston, turn right on to Darlington Road then right again on to Glen. Pedal hard on this descent to give you plenty of momentum for the steep kick up at the end and be prepared to change down gears quickly once you are climbing. The little hill up Leithdale Road gets up to about 16%, flattens out a little once you turn left on to Ryecroft but then kicks up again just to make sure you are puffing as the road levels out.
At the end of Ryecroft, turn left on to Glen Forrest Drive for a well-earned descent that will eventually take you to Thomas Road. From here, you needn’t worry about direction any more – just head straight and it’ll take you to Mundaring.
It’s generally an easy steady climb along here with plenty of time for chatting.
You can even give your camera to your co-rider so you don’t have to take self-portraits.
At Mundaring, you can go straight through the roundabout to the Mundaring Weir or, if you are feeling a little peckish, you could turn left and find a bakery or coffee shop before returning to the route.
There are still a couple of climbs to come before you can settle in and enjoy the descent toward Mundaring Weir. The descent to the bottom of the weir is always a treat.
Winter mist on the way down to the weir.
We took the unusual step of interrupting the descent to take photos.
You can interrupt the climb out of the weir by stopping to pretend to inspect the water level, as we did. There’s also a toilet at the first car park by the dam wall.
Hey – check out those Bianchis!
The rest of the climb is a great chance to taunt your co-riders with your climbing prowess and you can then settle into a steady pace along Mundaring Weir Road. Once you get to Kalamunda Kamel Farm (Or is it Calamunda Camel Farm – I can never remember), you’ll start descending toward Piesse Brook. It’s a fast, fun descent and the views over the valley below are lovely but look out for gum nuts on the road.
The road then turns up and you are heading for Kalamunda. Be sure to go hard all the way to the roundabout at the top – there is great prestige in this Strava KoM.
You can stop for a coffee in Kalamunda or head straight for the Zig-Zag. The view as you descend the Zig-Zag is always a fine reward for your morning’s ride.
Stop at the top of the Zig-Zag to photograph your bike.
(Click on the link above to see a panorama from the Zig-Zag)
Turn right at the bottom of the Zig-Zag and from there you can head home the way you came. Or do another lap if you fancy. You can find the Garmin Connect course of the ride here and plan your ride around it or download it to your Garmin device for directions.