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Event Review – Peaks Challenge Gold Coast

Established in 2015 as an addition to the Peaks Challenge series, Peaks Challenge Gold Coast is an event that tests riders from around the world against some of South East Queensland’s toughest climbs.

Set amongst the pristine, sub-tropical rainforests of the Gold Coast Hinterland, Peaks Challenge Gold Coast is not for the faint hearted.

For 235km and more than 4,000 vertical metres, you will journey into the depths of suffering. Your body will scream to stop. Your legs will burn. But this is what it takes to face Peaks Challenge Gold Coast. There’s no room for excuses.

You will also face arguably the toughest climb in the Peaks Challenge series – Henri Roberts Drive (Mount Tamborine), along with Beechmont, Springbrook, Natural Bridge and Tomewin, all set within reach of the Gold Coast’s famous sunset strip and sandy beaches.

This cycling challenge is certainly not for the faint hearted with only 89% of starters making the finish line within the 12 our time limit in its first instalment in 2015.

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The route:

The 235km route involves in excess of 4,000m of vertical climbing, starting with the notorious Henri Roberts Drive to the top of Mt Tamborine, looping towards Beechmont before continuing onto Springbrook, Natural Bridge and Tomewin. With five relentless peaks to conquer, your legs will be burning with each climb but you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views at the top.

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Peak 1: Tamborine

First off on Peaks Challenge Gold Coast is the notorious Henri Robert Drive – a sharp, steep climb up the eastern side of Mount Tamborine which most sensible weekend riders tend to avoid entirely, with at least 371 good reasons – that’s how many metres are gained in just the first 3km of the climb, equating to an average of 12.3%. The road briefly flattens out after this section, before kicking up again to 11.7% over another 3km, including a brief but terrifying 18% brute. As you pass the 18% gradient sign, rest assured that respite isn’t far ahead (as are spectacular views across the Gold Coast), and distract yourself by thinking about all the bragging you will do to your friends once you’ve conquered this beast.

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Peak 2: Beechmont

Beechmont: It’s beautiful, but brutal.

First, don’t dismiss the short, sharp ride out of Canungra before you turn right at the Kokoda Army Barracks and continue south towards Beechmont. It’s a good warm-up for what follows – a peaceful, scenic and undulating road through Witheren and along the upper reaches of the Coomera River, before you then cross the “KOM start” marker – which can be quite disheartening given you’ve already climbed almost 200m since Canungra!

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Peak 3: Springbrook

The third peak on Peaks Challenge Gold Coast takes you inland from the coast towards Springbrook and the Numinbah Valley, a very popular tourist location on the Gold Coast. It starts with a ‘warm-up’ hill of 130m climbing over 3km starting at Boomerang Farm Golf Course, but then the real climb begins as you cross Little Nerang Creek and stretches for the next 7.7km, until you turn right on Pine Creek Road well before Springbrook village itself.

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Peak 4: Natural Bridge

Shortly after a rest stop in the Numinbah Valley, the route encounters a gradual incline over roughly 7km, which is not steep enough to acquire a category rating (any climb needs to have an average gradient of more than 3% to be ‘rated’; this one averages 2.5%).

Following this 7km section is the fourth peak, and the baby of the Peaks Challenge Gold Coast family, “Natural Bridge”. At 5.3km in length, it isn’t short, but with an average gradient of 4.2% you should get up this one without too many dramas.

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Peak 5: Tomewin

Tomewin is the final climb of Peaks Challenge Gold Coast and should be your biggest test of the day. Despite having 195km in your legs, this climb is a brute in its own right: 4.4km at an unrelenting average of 7.9% (it’s said to feel more like 9 – 10%).

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Peaks 6,7,8……: Road to the finish

These are the climbs that they don’t talk about in the brochure! Be warned there are several tough pinches on the way home to the finishing straight. Rest assured, once you’re through the finish line they’re all but a distant memory.

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Check out some highlights from the video below!

 

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