Monday 17- Monday 24 February 2020
WORK IN PROGRESS – TEXT NOT YET COMPLETE and PICTURES COMING SOON
My first words about Sardinia and Sardinians (Mountain Biking Tour 17-23 February 2020) : Before I get into the details of our trips, I want to say that our seven days traveling and mountain biking in Sardinia was one of the most pleasant bike trips we have been on. Not only that the countryside were very natural and beautiful, but all the Sardinians we met were extremely friendly and helpful, ranging from shop owners, restaurant workers, and even fellow local tourists we met along the way.
But there were two people that I wanted to single them out who have during their time guiding and supporting our trips, have become our friends.
Mr. Wanny Scarpa, the owner of Biking Sardinia ( https://bikingsardinia.com/ ). His company supplied the rental electric-assisted mountain bikes that we used on the trip. They were in extremely good condition and very modern. Wanny says that he sells off older bikes and get some new ones every year and the bikes we used ranged from only about two years old to brand new. Besides the quality of the bikes, Wanny also provided support with his various vans so that we were able to ride in different areas of Sardinia. His love of biking was on full display as he personally guided us on the ride in Alghero area.
Mr. Francesco Mura, the owner of Bella Biking ( https://bellabiking.com/en/ ) was our eMTB guide for the first two days. He was not only knowledgeable about the trails and all the highlight points, but he also understood each of our riding abilities and adjusted our routes so that we all can enjoy them equally. He even arranged an amazing lunch at alocal hangout for the hikers that had both amazing views and very Sardinian food that without his help, we would never have a chance to try.
Both Wanny and Francesco also gave us many tips about things to see and do on periods that we were not biking. We got to witness the Sartiglia Festival ( https://www.sartiglia.info/en ) from their recommendation.
If anyone is looking to explore Sardinia by bikes (especially the amazing electric-assisted mountain bike) I strongly suggest that you contact either Wanny or Francesco for an unforgettable biking holiday.
On Monday March 10 2020, the Italian Government decided to lock down the whole of Italy, including Sardinia. Our prayers go to our new found friends and can only hope that this hard time will be over as soon as possible.
Day 1 – Feb 17, 2020 : Bangkok-Rome-Cagliari-Oliena
Four of us took Thai Airways A350 directly from Bangkok to Rome landing at 6 am. I looked at the various comments on the blogs that said that connecting in Rome onto a domestic flight is a hassle and needs more than 2 hours so I changed our 8 am flight to a 10 am flight to fly to Cagliari in Sardinia. Well, the information was totally incorrect. Turned out that it was extremely fast and smooth in Rome airport that we got through immigration and collected our luggage in less than 30 minutes and the walk over to the domestic terminal was only 4 minutes !!! So our advice is that 2 hours is plenty enough to connect in Rome.
Domestic flight from Rome to Cagliari on Alitalia was a totally different story. It turned out that our 10 am departure kept getting pushed later and later and finally left at 12:30. A 2.5 hours delay for a 50 minutes flight !!! We were told that the delay was caused by “bad weather” although it was bright sunshine both in Rome and in Cagliari !! The car rental agent in Cagliari told us that they heard that the delay was caused by a sick passenger on an earlier flight. Also it took almost one hour to get our luggage in Cagliari Airport although there were just two small planes landing there. Another travel tip – If you checked through the luggage all the way from Bangkok, your luggage would arrive at the “international arrival” but there is no sign to indicate that. I did not check though so our luggage came out with all the others’ while our friends’ checked-through luggage did not come out. After finally checking with the staff, they were told to go into the international section. Their luggages was there and went through the custom clearing there.
Speaking of sick, besides just temperature scanning as we disembarked the planes, it seemed like no one was concerned about Coronavirus both in Rome and in Sardinia. No one wore a mask there either.
Finally we got our van and drove two hours on nice roads to the town of Oliena where we stayed in this really nice two bedrooms, two stories house for 3 nights with the amazing view of the Monte Corrasi from the balcony.
Day 2 – Feb 18, 2020 : First day of mountain biking – Supramonte Osgosolo
Today was the first day of our three-days Electric-assisted Mountain Bike (eMTB) rides. We rented the eMTBs from Biking Sardinia ( https://bikingsardinia.com/ ) with Wanny driving the support van and our guide was Francesco, the owner of Bella Biking ( https://bellabiking.com/en/ ). Both Francesco and Wanny were great in giving us information and guidance. The eMTBs were good Panasonic-driven system and they responded as well as the Bosch system that we are used to.
They came by our house to pick us up at 9 am and we drove for about an hour to the town of Villagrande Strisaili. From there, we rode on the closed paved road up the mountains. This road was closed due to many landslides and rockfalls that proved to be too costly to maintain so they cut a new road to replace it. So our ride was on a car free road up to the top of Supramonte di Orgosolo ( https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/explore/supramonte )
We rode up the elevation of about 450 meters with gorgeous panoramic views all the way. Thanks to electric-assisted features and cool 15C weather, we were able to climb up without much trouble.
Our destination for the day after 38 Km is the a Refugio Lampathu ( https://trekkingorropuit.wordpress.com/dove-siamo/il-nostro-rifugio/ ), a lodge and dining place for hikers. We had a really good Sardinian food with pork, sausages, vegetables, the amazing Pane Carasau ( Sardinian Flat Bread), and plenty of local red wine. We were so full and tipsie that we decided to call it the day and packed up the bikes and back to Oliena.
Regarding the weather, Francesco kept saying how lucky we were with the weather. At first I was puzzled because I thought that the weather is normally like this in February. Later he explained that February is normally the wettest and coldest month and this bright sunshine weather is very unusual !!!
Magical Electric-assisted Mountain Bikes
WEDNESDAY 19th OLIENA:
The following few days went as a blur now a few months later under COVID locked down in Bangkok so I just took the descriptions from the pre-tour planning. All I can say is that all the rides, trails and views were fabulous.
Transfer by van and trailer from the accommodation to the start point of the ride (likely to be close to Villanova Strisaili). The van and trailer, driven by a second guide, will provide assistance along the way (where possible) and will pick up the group and me at the end of the stage in Dorgali or close to Gorroppu canyon to drive us back in Oliena.
During this excursion we will ride through the “Supramonte di Urzulei” and we will visit also the “Gorroppu Canyon” (just the entrance) https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/explore/gorropu
FRIDAY 21st ALGHERO:
Transfer by van and trailer from the accommodation to the start point of the ride (likely to be close to Porto Conte). The van and trailer, driven by a second guide, would provide assistance along the way (where possible) and would pick up the group and me at the end of the stage to drive us back in Alghero.
We would visit the Natural Park of Porto Conte. https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/explore/porto-conte-regional-natural-park
At the lookout point that was the mounting tower for the cannon to protect the bay’s entrance, Chakri discovered that if one stands in the middle of the mount and talk or yell, one can hear the echo of one’s own voice. The guides did not know about that so we named it “Chuck’s Eco Point”
We then said a fond farewell to our guides and drove 105 Km to the town of Oristano, to attend the Sartigliar Festival.
SUNDAY 23rd SARTIGLIA
The Sartiglia festival ( https://www.sartiglia.info/en ) was a lot of fun and was everything it was advertised to be and more. Anyone thinking of going to Sardinia should plan it so that you can go to Oristano to attend this festival.
MONDAY 24th With all the news about growing threats of COVID-19 infection in northern Italy, we decided to cut our trip short, skipped the Sicily section and flew home. Below is the more detailed accounts of our Great Escape 2020.
You can read HERE about how we ESCAPED from Italy. just in time for COVID-19 lockdown