It has taken a while but I have finally started venturing into Nerang State Forest. There is a reported 50 km of single track scattered throughout the native forest, only about 20 km so far legal with the remainder still being mapped assessed and made legal. The Geology is predominantly sandstone with some metamorphic rocks on the peaks. It is steeply undulating country resulting in riding similar to Jerrabomberra. There is some smooth riding in the hollows, but much is rocky and over roots.
Riding starts from the Nerang velodrome and road crit. track. Rides so far have involved heading out on a well-used track then just taking the best looking turns until one realises they have no idea where they are. Then you ride for another 30-40min hoping that instinct and track alignments return you to some recognisable landmark or trail to get you back to the starting point. This was again my predicament yesterday when I ended up on an old track that descended into a steep bedrock creek…
There are other freeride and XC areas close by and GCCC (Council) are starting on the 2018 Commonwealth Games XC course soon. So, if you are heading north to escape the harsh Canberra winter, throw in your mtb and take time to call by the Gold Coast hinterland.
The Gold Coast hinterland offers so many fantastic hill riding options which I have been gradually working my way through…as roads are repaired and opened again after landslides and floods of Cyclone Oswald and other storms. Rides from our base at Lower Beechmont include the regular Beechmont Road at a steady 4% grade, Binna Burra return with spectacular views up the Numinbah Valley bound by cliffs and rocky outcrops and Mt Warning off in the distance. The ride has a beautiful kick at the end as you circle up through the road cut into near- cliffs. Other beauties include Springbrook return which offers some sustained 15% grade through lovely forest, and the Tamborine loop which serves up another Cotter-Uriarra length ride, but a tad more elevation gain and loss.
On the first weekend of June I found another sensational ride which provided a real spiritual moment as one forgets about every worry in the world and just stamps on the pedals and marvel at the beauty of the place. I headed out to Canungra last weekend via Beechmont. Here, I turned SW up the valley leading to O’Reilly’s Guest House in Lamington Nation Park. The top was originally settled by Bernard O’Reilly who initiated his own rescue effort of the Stinson aircraft crash in 1937. From Canungra, the sign indicated 36 k up to the top which was going to blow out my 3hr credit window. The first 10k undulated along a rather ordinary valley bottom before starting the gradual climb of only 3-4% that lasted an hour winding up the lower mountain on a road often only single lane with steep drop-offs to the side. It was almost a surreal climb being able to power up in the big ring for so long which eventually brings you out on a long ridge line leading towards the National Park. In the last 7k the road narrows to single lane only and huge buttressed rainforest trees, strangling figs and lianas crowd over the road. The narrow road climbs and wiggles along between the buttressed trees with tiny pull-offs dotted along the side to allow cars to meet and pass. In the final few kilometres the road was damp due to the mountain top microclimate, it was a surface that has seen constant pothole repair giving the feeling of riding on cobbles…but rather than detracting from the ride, it added to the whole experience of riding through an enchanted forest. Then you are snapped out of the trans-like riding state as you meet the road end and O’Reilly’s café/restaurant for refuelling. Descending was super fun but nothing like the near-spiritual feeling of climbing up into new country on truly unique roads. Come up and enjoy!