Get off the beaten track in Noosa this winter
Loved for its sandy beaches, vibrant café life and quaint beauty of Hastings Street, Noosa also boasts a network of scenic country towns and mountainous hinterland that border the entire region, making it an ideal cycling destination.
A well-kept local secret is that the quiet, undulating rural roads and off-road stretches of forestry make this an incredibly diverse – and largely undiscovered- terrain for mountain biking and road cycling.
With its unique blend of tranquil village life, ideal riding and mild winter conditions, Noosa is a perfect year-round cycling destination that rivals even some of the best global cycling hotspots.
On the northern side of Noosa, just a thirty-minute roll from the bustling heart of Hastings Street, lie the Ringtail and Yurol State Forests, a large parcel of forestry land that makes up one of the most important wildlife corridors in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. The forestry is also home to the little-known Noosa Trail Network.
With its vast network of crisscrossing trails, swathes of country farmland and long stretches of gravel roads, the Noosa Trail Network is an undiscovered haven for gravel and mountain bikers, which locals have been enjoying for years.
Now a trio of local cycling events is letting others in on the secret and bringing cyclists to the region for a winter of cycling in Noosa. With a calendar full of diverse cycling events on offer, the Noosa winter offers a refuge for cyclists from the southern states looking to escape the chill and get plenty of kilometres in their legs.
Saturday 31 July – Sunday 1 August
The history of the Noosa Enduro is woven into the fabric of local event folklore; it was started by the team behind the iconic Noosa Triathlon as a gruelling off-road endurance mountain bike event more than a decade ago and will make its re-entry onto the event calendar this year.
Reimagined for 2021, this slick two-day cycling festival has multiple events on offer to suit all levels. The course remains virtually unchanged from the original and follows the Noosa Trail Network almost in its entirety but will also include events for the booming gravel and e-Bike categories, as well as a kids’ race and an elite event featuring some of Australia’s best off-road cyclists.
Setting off from the township of Tewantin, the Noosa Enduro heads deep into the forestry of the Noosa Trail Network and graces the Noosa country towns of Kin Kin, Cooran and Cooroy before tackling the King of the Mountain challenge up the formidable Mothar Mountain- a chance to test your legs, or engage the motor on your e-Bike, depending on your perspective! Finish back in Tewantin with a well-deserved cold beer in the festival village, replete with live music, craft beer and street food festival, and kids learn-to-ride area by Wheely Fun Camps.
There are various events on offer across two days, including the Noosa Enduro 60km and 100km options and the Noosa Dirty Fondo 90km and 150km events. Our tip: don’t miss Sunday’s Dirty Fondo; this is one for the roadies that don’t mind getting their socks dirty.
Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 August
The Noosa Strade Bianche is a one-day, vintage-style gran fondo event set in the Noosa country in August. Styled after the prestigious Italian race, l’Eroica Strade Bianche, it has risen to become one of the premier vintage cycling events in Australia.
It is the ‘strade bianche’ (the white gravel roads) of the Tuscan countryside in the original that make this event so iconic, and the Noosa Strade Bianche seeks to replicate this by including the gravel roads of the Noosa Trail Network - which must be ridden on a steel-framed bike.
A weekend in celebration of these vintage machines, this event is as much about appreciation of this retro style of riding as it is about racing. The course loops to the north of its starting point at the Noosa Marina, taking in the hinterland towns of Pomona and Cooroy, where pastry stops are not only recommended but encouraged via the Brevet Card System.
There are three distances to choose from: a 33km Piccolo Fondo, a short cut 86km version of the Gran Fondo and the main event, the 115km Gran Fondo which includes a gruelling 1600m of elevation, making it suitable for experienced riders only. The weekend also features a Vintage Show & Shine; a mini expo where you can pay to exhibit your pride and joy for other vintage bike enthusiasts to admire.
Saturday 14 – Sunday 15 August
Capturing the spirit of the Noosa country, this one-day Gran Fondo is one for the cycling purists. A true road-bike event in the style of the European Classics, this long-standing local event offers four different courses to challenge riders of all levels.
This year sees the inclusion of the Gyndier Drive Hill Climb, an uphill time trial. With three other courses on offer, including the weekend warrior-friendly Rouleur’s Classic, a shorter 65km event taking in the hinterland town of Pomona and the nearby Black Mountain climb-and yes, e-Bikes are permitted in this category, making it accessible to beginners and seasoned riders alike.
More experienced riders can choose their own adventure with either the 120km Challenge Classic or the 160km Maxi Classic. From the starting point in Tewantin, the course crosses the picturesque Lake Cootharaba, before heading for the hilly backcountry of Noosa, crisscrossing the quiet country roads of Kin Kin, Cooran and Imbil, before finishing in the event village in Tewantin, where cold beer, live music and entertainment will greet weary riders.