Noosa Strade Bianche: a perfect ride on vintage steel

Three cyclists in woolen jerseys and steel bikes near the water

It’s always nice to be heading to Queensland in August. After a cold and hard winter, flying into Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is akin to landing on a foreign, pacific Island. The differences are obvious as soon as you get off the plane, with warm weather, evergreen and tropical vegetation, and a general mood that is more relaxed and slow.

A palm tree leaf in front of the tropical water of queensland

The Noosa Strade Bianche is a beautiful event inspired by L’Eroica, the iconic ride in Tuscany of mythical proportions. It’s an important weekend for A’QTO as it’s one of the very few organised, vintage steel bike ride events in Australia and marks the start of an exciting build up of vintage steel experiences that culminates with our L’Eroica and Tuscany cycling tour in Gaiole in Chianti, and what will be our 5th L’Eroica edition.

the walking path in the Noosa National park

Arriving on the Thursday gave us plenty of time to slowly ease into the weekend, taking a few easy rolls in the sunshine and enjoying the local seafood at any opportunity.

Saturday arrives before you know it with the “piccolo fondo” in the morning as a little taster of what is to come before the vintage bike expo and the “show and shine” competition. This is a collection of everyone’s favourite or latest additions to their collection of vintage steel bicycles.

A close up of a Cinelli bicycle with a disc wheel

With a great vibe, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk all things steel and trade parts of your collection up or down over a coffee or two as we bask in the warm QLD sunshine.

Two cyclist waiting to start a gran Fondo

Sunday arrives with an early start and we meander down to the marina for a pre sign-on coffee and brioche con crema, Australian style.

The anticipation builds, the ride briefing is given, the bell is rung and we are on our way into an adventure in the Noosa hinterland. The banter starts almost immediately as we head out along the sleepy Noosaville streets towards and up Grynder Hill.

We approach the first section of dirt with a little trepidation, as it was along this stretch a few years back that I managed to have three flats in about 3 k’s and end my ride.

After paying close attention to the line taken, we snake our way over the gravel, past “collarbone corner” and once again onto the country back roads that lead you into the little village of Cooroy.

As we take a left and head out of the village, the roads become smaller as they start to go up, with views of Black Mountain in the distance as you round the open corners.

A cyclist descending on a gravel road in the country

The tarmac gives way to our next long up section of gravel, were we all ride to our own rhythm and regroup once at the top. We track along the top of the ridge before another pinch and then the ripper of a long gravel descent.

Your senses have just gone off the charts, your adrenalin is through the roof as you hang onto the bars and work the brakes finding the right balance of slowing a little without locking it up.

What a rush.

Our little gruppetto reforms as we spin towards our first rest stop, where we indulge in four delicious chocolate brownies and a cup or two of slow brewed ice coffee. With the refuelling complete it’s off to tackle the next challenge of the day which is just a little “pinch” across the bridge.

A blue Gios bicycle with a race number

You roll out from the rest stop, cross the little wooden bridge and then up you go. In reality, it is really 3 pinches in one. It was hard the last time that I did it and it wasn’t any easier this edition, with a little mail having to be delivered to get to the top. For me, this represents the hardest part of the day and in my mind, everything from this point is downhill.

After this little test we roll along more hard packed gravel and I’m just enjoying the feeling of contentment, the quite steel, crunching across the gravel, the goldilocks weather, where it’s not too hot and not too cold, the non existent traffic and more of the banter. It doesn’t get any better.

A quick descent follows the end of the gravel and then it’s the decision of left or right, Gran or Medio?

Medio it is.


A riders cycling on steel bikes on a gravel road near Noosa

We briefly stop at the next check point to refill the bottles before meandering along more gravel. We go up, we go down, we take a sharp right and we are treated to a long flowing descent as we get back onto the tarmac and head in the direction of home. The undulating top of the ridge, the descent through Cooroy and the downhill run of Grynder Hill is a nice finish and interesting contrast to the early morning ascent.

Rounding the final corner we can see the finish banner and as we cross the line, the bells are rung.

We roll to a stop, sign off and then embark on the post ride rehydration & refuelling program.

A beautiful and challenging ride on the bike followed by good food, conversation and laughter with the whole group off the bike.

Just another perfect day on the bike.

If you love riding vintage steel on the gravel, join us for the ultimate adventure on our L’Eroica and Tuscany Cycling Tour and consider riding the Noosa Strade Bianche with us in 2019.

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