What a weekend at the 2017 edition of the Noosa Strade Bianche.
Now let me get this out of the way first….. the weather….. coming from a cold Melbourne, the 26 degrees and soft warm sea breezes of Noosa, was a slice of paradise and just what the doctor ordered.
As with previous editions, the weekend gets under way with the Piccolo ride on the Saturday, before the expo & swap meet comes to life by the water and the riders take the opportunity to enter their beautiful steel machines into the “Show & Shine” competition.
t’s such a relaxed vibe; coffee, conversation and adoration of the steel machine of yesteryear.
The Sunday morning start for the Medio and Gran Fondo was a hive of activity, with a 40% increase in riders from 2016.
Following my failure to finish last year after 3 flats in the first 12k’s, there was a small amount of trepidation with how I was going to go and just how far I would get.
I then thought I probably have some credit with the “God of Flat Tyres” and after putting some “slime” into the virtually new singles, that I would roll the dice and ride with no spares.
We waited in the early morning sunshine before getting underway and being escorted onto the course by Michelangelo from Italian Marina Restaurant in his little Fiat.
As people found their rhythm, the mass start split and groups formed as we rolled towards our first section of gravel.
As I was passing a few unfortunate souls who were in the process of changing out their tubes, I was paying close attention to what line I was taking and avoiding anything that looked sharp, after dropping the pressure to 80 in the tyres.
This was a perfect day for a ride with the sun on your back and it was evident with the expressions across the group, just how much joy people get from being on a bike.
The continual rollercoaster of the Noosa Hinterland lead us to another long section of very hard packed, seriously good gravel, virtually no cars and just the sounds of the local birdlife.
This was just so good.
After feeling like I have done most of the day’s climbing, I hit a long descent and passed a guy changing a flat. Thoughts went straight to my “no spares policy” and the possible long walk home. I banished the thoughts as quickly as they came with an “if I don’t think about it, it won’t happen” approach.
This back and forwards thought process repeatedly happened as I passed another 4 riders changing out their tubes before I rolled over the bridge and back onto the tarmac.
Two Sections down. Two to go.
I had heard that the rest stops were good, and was not disappointed as I rolled into the “Lemon Ladies” rest stop for a couple of scones and cold pressed coffees that were sensational.
If I stayed for one more round, I wouldn’t have got back on my bike.
The first climb straight after the stop was a surprise and just didn’t want to stop. I inched around the corner and there was still more to come.
As with everything, this eventually levelled out and continued on until I arrived at the sign that splits the course.
Left or Right.
Long or Short
I went right and found myself back on the gravel in no time as we started to wind our way back to Cooroy.
After stopping for a banana at the next rest stop and having a chat about my beautiful Cinelli with some aficionados, I joined a couple of guys for the undulating roll back to the Marina.
And in the quite moments when there was no banter, I reflected on the contentment that comes from riding a bike.
We rolled directly onto the deck of the Marina and in the true Italian inspired spirit of the event, I sat down to enjoy a Menabrae beer in no time at all.
As we had a few more beers, grazed on the beautiful post ride food and watched the procession of riders finishing, I thought to myself, I will be back next year for sure.
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