There are many great Gold Coast routes to explore that are short and sweet, yet can be meandered and enjoyed over several hours, says local rider and MBW contributor Todd Parkes, 45. Here he has selected a favourite called the Panorama/Beechmont/Clagiraba circuit that can be ridden in under two hours.
For this ride, I left the M1 at Mudgeeraba and headed west, past the cemetery and left at the showgrounds on Worongary Rd. After several kays you approach the southern entry of The Panorama which is a short circuit that yields amazing views over the coast and snippets of views to the west over the Hinze Dam.
It’s a 50km/h speed limit and is occasionally enforced. You may also see some kangaroos in the late afternoons.
After completing the circuit, you’ll rejoin Worongary Rd and continue until you find Hinde Rd on the left which will take you left on to Latimer’s Crossing Rd which opens up into a winding road past some ranch-style fields before arriving at an intersection to Numinbah Rd.
Left will take you down a delightful road that most local riders have nick-named The Hinze Raceway because of its smooth, beautifully flowing nature. But be warned it is heavily patrolled.
My route took me to the right for a couple of kays before turning left on to Beechmont Rd where this joyous road heads skyward. Several minor sections of roadworks were on the go at various points along my upward journey but that shows that council is serious about maintaining and improving the surface. Saturday and Sunday mornings will find you coming across cyclists who are out on their training so steer around, give room and be patient.
This whole road circuit is just full of amazing views, twists, turns, switchbacks, canopies and straights. Take the time to stop and listen to the silence, to turn up some side streets and explore the lookouts or the walks or picnic spots; you will discover plenty. I even found a new street and view after riding this circuit for nearly 10 years.
You may encounter plenty of riders on the weekend treating the ride as if it as TT race. Let them go and just enjoy your pace. Be mindful of the crosses and memorials as the road can be treacherous if your ambition overcomes your ability or in other cases when opposing traffic takes your space on the road.
You will pass through Lower Beechmont on your way and there is a great picnic spot/lookout off a street to the right. It is serene to stop here on a Saturday and listen to the sounds of bikes winding their way up and down with gaps of silence and a cool breeze in between.
If you like taking photos or posing your bike, along the way are plenty of creative spots to take your picture. The road across the ridge at the top of Beechmont opens into the only 80km/h zone. It winds past farms along the ridge that in the winter late afternoons, present the smells and sights unique to that time of the year- colourful sunsets, wood fireplaces burning and so forth. You will even see dedication in the fields as one farmer lets the world know who will win the State of Origin this year (accept unfortunately he was wrong).
From the farms across the top of the ridge, you will slow to 60km/h (they do enforce it often) and plunge through the canopied roads between one bend and the next. Moss can occasionally be seen in places and wildlife too like to see things on the other side of the road without worrying about your passage through.
If you are after a snack and some downtime, there are plenty of wonderful and hospitable establishments throughout this journey. Today for me it was the Flying Bean which has only recently been built and opened and it is in the most scenic spot.
It is opposite a lookout on the East side of the ridge and there are often hang gliders launching, coasting and returning. A nice little touch was when I was parking there was a clay tile nearby labelled bike stand as the ground was quite soft. Prices are great as is the selection of food and a variety of settings to choose to sit. Again, the view is to die for.
Time to hit the road, through the trees of the canopy before arriving at the Schoolmaster’s house on the left and the Tasty Crumb Treehouse on the right with a roundabout nearby. Leftish will progress you through the canopies and forests further to Binna Burra with a great little teahouse and a variety of bushwalks as well as some camping grounds and accommodation.
Right at the roundabout will head you across the western side of the ridge where I went. Again winter, later afternoons will yield some beautiful sights. Sweeps and bends abound, bridges and straights mixed in all for a 60km/h journey that will leave you wanting more.
By the end of the ridge you see an 80km/h sign as you head downhill off the mountain but don’t try and hold that all the way as the edges of the road are dirt/gravel and the road is 1.5 cars wide.
Swooping down eventually levels you out in the valley for more bends, bridges, river crossings, some camp sites and more side road offerings that may or may not lead to anywhere. Rest assured you will want to repeat that ride again. Try it in the other direction and you’ll find it has a different character, but is just as enjoyable.
You will eventually arrive to the intersection with Nerang-Beaudesert Rd giving you the choice of turning right and heading back to reality or turning left and continuing the ride. Taking the right, continue east through the 70 and 90km/h zones and prepare to turn right on to the Clagiraba Rd. Head down here, over the bridge and follow the lay of the land. New road surfaces have been laid and they are delightful in those segments. This little known hidden road has its own flow and character and becomes a short ride that you can enjoy when you only have a little time.
Eventually it re-joins on to the main road system where you decide which way to return home via Nerang or Mudgeeraba.