To escape the cold, wet British winter my daughter, Kathryn, and I flew to Cagliari in South West Sardinia for a week of gentle cycle touring.
To make life easier we booked this through a Scottish company called Hooked on Cycling who in turn use a Sardinian company Dolcevita to handle the local logistics.
On arrival at Cagliari we were met by Henrico from Dolcevita.
Our bright yellow hire bikes were on the roof ready for the following morning as we drove north to Cabras just outside of Oristano.
Overnight there was a violent prolonged thunderstorm with torrential rain.
Sunday morning was cool and cloudy. The route to follow is described in notes with diagrams and distances. A simple bike computer is supplied to help with navigation.
Our first day was an easy introduction cycling the flat coastal plains of the Sinus wetlands. The salt ponds are home to a wealth of bird life but we were particularly excited to see lots of pink flamingo.
The roads were very quiet with just the occasional car. The Italians seem very happy to see touring cyclists and pass us carefully.
Circling the lake at Riola Sardo we reached the coast at Mari Ermi. In the high season there are kiosks and a cafe. In February it was all ours.
The beaches on this coast are bright white as they are made up of quartz grains.
The next 15km were on an unpaved beach road. Well, that maybe what it’s like in the summer, but after a night of torrential rain there were long sections that were very muddy with deep sand and some sections that were flooded. We aimed to stay on the bikes and skid, slip and slide through the sand and mud and ride through the floods. This went very well, however I became too bold and ended up with bottom bracket submerged and knee deep in a salty flood.
At San Giovanni di Sinis, with its 5th century church, we were back on a paved road. We rode out onto Capo San Marco (reminiscent of Portland) and briefly looked at the Phonecian ruins of Tharros with a history of habitation stretching back almost 2500 years.
We headed back up the peninsular and on a flat, well surfaced road, we rode past the salt flats, with lots of flamingo, passing the marina at Torregrande.
We were very fortunate to be visiting this area close to Oristano on the last Sunday before Lent, as Oristano hosts the Sartiglia. The festival dates back to the medieval Europe of crusades and today it is a great show of horsemanship and acrobatics to entertain and amuse. The main event is a bit like a joust. The horses are decorated in rosettes which are coloured and patterned to signify whether the rider is a farmer, a carpenter or whatever and which ‘team’ he belongs to. The rider gallops at speed down a street (closed to the public) and with his sword stick has to pierce a silver star hanging between 2 posts. This goes on for hours as over 100 men take part. The riders only appear in disguise concealed behind a mask. We couldn’t get close to the live action but we saw the riders and horses before and after their turn and watched the action on big screens.
There were plenty of food stalls so we were able to refuel before riding back to our hotel at Cabras.
This gentle day clicked up 72k on the GPS. Only 140m of elevation.
Definitely not Dorset