I was supposed to do a charity bike ride today but needed some space to clear my head and refocus so I decided to head out and explore a ride I’ve been thinking about for a month or two: Duck Creek Road. Duck Creek Road is a 4WD track up the western side of the Lamington escarpment in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
I left home at 6:30am and rode through Beenleigh. Within 20km (12 miles) I was in rolling countryside, passing horses and cattle grazing in paddocks. At 40km (25 miles), I stopped at Cosy Corner in Tamborine Village for an ice block (water ice, not ice cream) and cold bottle of ice tea. Cosy Corner is next to a farm supplies shop so the air was filled with the delicious scent of lucern hay.
From Tamborine Village, I rode towards Beaudesert until I reached the Canungara road, where I turned left. The Beaudesert road was busy and relatively unpleasant, other than the wide open scenery and rural items dotting paddocks.
From the Canungara Rd, I turned right down Biddadabba Road. From here I was entering new territory, cycling in places I’ve never cycled before. Biddadabba Road was stunning. Like flowing water, it flowed gently between the surrounding hills, taking the path of least resistance. The road was a sheer pleasure to ride and I highly recommend it to all local cyclists; especially those looking to cruise, rather than race.
At the end of Biddadabba Road I turned left back on the Beaudesert road. Traffic raced past me on a road with 20-30cm shoulders that had big pot holes and had been eroded away. It was the only truly unpleasant part of my ride; fortunately, it was on 7km (4 miles) to Beaudesert. In Beaudesert I stopped to refill my water bottles before setting off down Kerry Road. While the land in Beaudesert always feels to me like a lost and desperate place, Kerry Road feels totally relaxed and at ease with itself. It travels up the green Kerry Valley, starting with low hills on either side before reaching the steep western escarpment. This is another road you just have to ride.
In Kerry I turned left down Duck Creek Road, which would take me from the valley up to the top of the Lamington Plateau. The road starts out innocently enough and the biggest hazards are the cattle who know they own the road.
And then it begins. The “real” Duck Creek Road. Notice the contrast between the sign and my bike. This is definitely MTB territory but I didn’t want to be stuck riding 170-180km along paved roads on my MTB. Besides, I reckon I’m tough enough to climb the road; even if I have to walk sections to do it.
About 1km from the start of the gravel, I reached the official start of the 4WD section. Here, there’s an information sign, donation tin and large closed gate you need to go through. I left my donation, agreed with some guys who told me I was mad to go through on my road bike and watched as a family in a 4WD drove up ahead of me for their “adventure”.
The climb to the first lookout was intense. I wasn’t quite prepared for how tough the climb would be; nor how slippery the road was.
But anything is possible with a little perseverance and the willingness to walk. I had to walk with my shoes off because they were giving me blisters. I’m going to have to start carrying Compeeds with me on long rides because I can’t wear socks (my feet tense up in socks and I get cramps).
As I got higher, the road started to undulate and I’d get a little reprieve from the short downhills that started to separate the steep climbs. I couldn’t really whoop down though because the road surface threatened to buck me off my lightweight machine and I had to pick a path through the rocks on my skinny tyres.
But for all the hardships and challenges, this is by far one of the most picturesque roads I’ve ever cycled.
And then I hit the top of the road and looked out over the most stunning views of the scenic rim.
After making it to the top of Duck Creek Road, I climbed the final 3km (2 miles) up the sealed road to O’Reilly’s Guesthouse Retreat, which is a private land holding at the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park. I enjoyed a can of Coke, another Icy Pole and refilled my drink bottles, which ran empty on the climb up Duck Creek Road. At O’Reilly’s you can feed parrots from your hands (I didn’t but I took this photo for you to enjoy)
The first 5km (3 miles) of the descent to Canungara runs through the rainforest on a sealed road. The road is rough and worn. Without wanting to be to crass, this section of the descent made me glad that I’m not a bioman because I imagine they would experience some pain in the unmentionable areas if they tried to sit through here. As it was, I stayed out of the saddle just to keep better control of the bike as it jumped and leaped around like a bucking bull.
After the first 5km, the rest of the 30km (18 mile) descent, is a dream. I’ve long been scared of riding down mountains but this was a great confidence boost. The cambers on the road are perfect, the blind corners are signed so you know when to slow down to take care of oncoming traffic and the hairpins flow well. With a 4-5% gradient, I could keep my speed in check and take the hill at my own pace (about 40kph/25mph). I know plenty do it faster, but I like to ride within my abilities.
The views from the descent aren’t half bad either; particularly up on the western and southern sides of the mountains, which are too steep for trees to grow.
I stopped in Canungara for a meat pie and small bottle of chocolate milk before setting off to Nerang. I felt pretty rough from the ride and struggled with overheating but I enjoyed the ride. The road traveled through forest and along the Coomera River. I didn’t stop to take photos because the road was narrow and I was keen to get home after a long day in the saddle. Unfortunately, I literally missed the train in Nerang by 30 seconds. Another way to look at it is that I made the next train by 29:30.
After a 20 minute train ride, I arrived at Beenleigh and rode the final 18km (11 miles) home. It was getting dark so I wore my high visibility vest and turned on my lights. The ride home was uneventful and easy.
I had a brilliant day and it was just the thing I needed to clear my mind. I rode a bit further than I intended to but I’m glad I did. I completed the ride within the allowable time limits of an Audax ride, despite the long slow climb up Duck Creek Road and the 50 minutes I lost catching the train. So that’s a great confidence boost this early in the Audax season.
Total: 188.8km road ride.