9 -16 April 2017
This section covers 500k from Cagliari in the south over the mountainous eastern region to Porto Torres in the northwest from where we took a ferry to Corsica. We could have done it much easier and faster, but we wanted to explore as much as possible of the island.
Itinerary and weather
We arrived in Cagliari 7.30 on a quiet Sunday morning – normally biking big cities is horrible but there was no traffic, so it was quite enjoyable. After stocking up and having breakfast by the beach, we biked 20k east on the hilly coastal road providing gorgeous views. In Geremeas, we took the main road northeast to Bari Sardo mostly through open countryside – the road was big and charmless but it was good quality and providing better views than the lower, hillier and poor quality secondary roads. From Bari Sardo, it was a beautiful ride northwest to Nuoro navigating many mountains and valleys and though it was most often secluded, we also passed some lovely small towns/villages. In Nuoro we tried to ride east to Olbia, but the 3 main road entries we tried were all closed, so we gave up and instead headed north out of town; first to Budduso and west to Ozieri, then north past Tempio up to Vignola Mare on the northern coast and finally southwest all the way back to Porto Torres (a big detour but a chance to see some of the northern coast we had missed because of the closed main road in Nuoro). We were lucky as it was great riding through secluded forests/countryside with only scattered towns – several more big hills to climb but also many beautiful valleys, rivers and lakes.
It was sunny and especially the afternoons were hot, so again we were happy with the ever changing winds, although it required some extra work, particularly the last stretch from Vignola Mare to Porto Torres where we had a strong headwind. After sunset, the temperature dropped significantly, especially when we camped in higher elevation – night temperatures usually around 3-5C.
Road quality, drivers/people and camping
As mentioned, we mostly took the main roads, generally being in good condition. They looked the same on the map, but sometimes they were big as highways and other times small country roads. The latter were of course preferable although the road quality was sometimes mediocre/poor. People drove fast (especially the crazy motorcyclists) but I still had the feeling that the drivers were cautions when passing us. Only the countless tunnels were dangerous as nobody slowed down and therefore had to squeeze by. Not all tunnels were well lit, which was dangerous with our small lights and the vehicles not having lights on.
Few people returned our endless greetings; not being hostile but blank stares or simply ignoring us. Always a pity but not a big surprise as Sardinians are known to be a quiet and reserved people deeply attached to their land and culture. I was more surprised how rich the island seemed to be – especially on the coast but even the small interior towns/villages seemed organised and looked well-maintained and clean.
Despite riding mostly secluded areas, camping was quite difficult since either the road or the fields were fenced - a small backroad (preferably abandoned) was always our best chance. A couple of times we asked for help and though people were friendly, they didn’t allow to camp e.g. some people invited us in for wine; not sure what they were thinking A) drinking and biking B) 30 minutes to sunset and we asked for help camping. It always worked out, though a couple of times we ended up in dubious spots.