12 April 2017 – Cycling our way through the Sardinian wine region…. [Italy (Sardinia)]
Day 3 (day 2 of riding) of our Sardinian bike tour took us on a scenic loop ride through the Malvasia wine region, Planargia area and through hilltop villages dotted with murals. The views were again spectacular and the hills kept our legs working hard. Gelato and pizza were welcome!
Breakfast in Hotel Sa Pischedda in Bosa didn’t start until 8am and of course Astrid was up at 6.45am and managed to wake everyone up! Not an ideal start to another long cycling day after a late night.
Luckily breakfast was pretty good, with a nice selection of cheeses and meat and breads. The kids loved the blood-orange juice and a selection of croissants. They were getting practice in before our time in France! Despite not feeling hungry, Anto and I decided we needed to eat enough to sustain us through another hilly riding day.
We were doing a loop ride back to Bosa that afternoon, so there was no need to pack up (always a welcome relief which makes for a more relaxed morning). Finally organised with all our water and panniers we were on the bikes by 10am.
Our ride for the day was listed as 57km and we’d again chosen to go with the ‘easy option’. The challenge version was 82km with twice as many hills, so not ideal when dragging kids on the back of the bike. Bosa is beautifully nestled into the foot of several mountains, we could see there was no way out without an awful lot of hill!
We started the ride by heading out of town, in the opposite direction to what we came in, along the marina. This gave lovely views of the ocean and the mountains we were about to climb!
The first 4km had been delightfully flat as we skirted along the edge of the ocean. For the second day in a row we’d seen the local (and very rare) predatory Bonelli eagles hovering overhead. The beach of Bosa is a popular summer spot but it was a bit cool and rocky for us Aussies!
Pretty soon we were heading inland to the Malvasia wine region and that meant going up. Here started around 22km of almost continuous climb as we wound our way up through vineyards and tiny towns. The first few kilometres included a category 3 and category 4 climb that really tested our legs. The views were awesome as we came out at the top of a hill and saw vineyards and olive farms laid out below us. We’d spied a hilltop town from down the bottom of the mountain and sure enough that is where we were headed……..
By the time we reached the town of Modola we’d climbed over 330m and wound our way through some tiny villages tucked into the mountain that had narrow cobble-stone streets that were incredibly steep and winding. They were very cute but most cars were chugging up the hills and we were struggling to peddle up so there was no way we were stopping for photos!
Another category 3 climb later and we ran into our German teacher friends from our ride (and roadside picnic lunch) the previous day. They were also finding the hill climbs hard work and were getting through less kilometres a day than they had anticipated. Their route for day was taking them in a different direction to us so we bid farewell and headed off through the town of Flussio before you guessed it, up some more hills!
Our route was taking us through many towns including Tinnura, Flussio and Modolo which are famous for their murals painted on walls. The murals describe daily scenes of life and were scattered all throughout the villages. We had planned to stop for morning tea in one of the villages but we had trouble finding somewhere open as we kept riding through the quiet part of the villages (or they were always quiet mid-week).
At this point we were about 15km into a 57km day and stopped outside one of the towns so Anto could turn the map page. As I was pulling over to the side of the road I overbalanced and managed to fall over a large concrete gutter and got my foot stuck and damanged my leg and copped a lot of bruises. Soren, on the back of my bike was fine strapped into his seat, just a bit scared.
Less than 5 minutes later I was back on the bike and obviously my legs were a little too shaky (probably something to do with the hills) as I went straight over again and back into the ditch. This time poor Soren got his elbow scraped and was quite shaken. After a long delay, where I was regretting undertaking this riding caper, we decided to put Soren in the trailer (with Astrid) for a bit since I wasn’t feeling great and didn’t want to damage him further.
This commenced another 10km of ascent, although not as steep as we were now winding through open fields rather than straight up hills. Anto had both kids to drag in the trailer so was going to earn his lunch. We were riding past plenty of fields with cows, sheep and goats and we would generally hear the goats a mile away as their bells were clanging away before we spotted them. Most of this section of the ride was on a highway with traffic moving rather fast but luckily it was pretty wide and most were giving us a wide berth.
Our planned lunch stop was in the town of Sindia. About 2km out from Sindia Astrid needed a bathroom break so once we arrived it was a mad dash to find (according to our riding notes) one of the 2 places that served food. Most of these villages are tiny so you aren’t spoilt for choice with places to stop.
We have also discovered that in Sardinia (especially away from the larger towns) next to no one speaks English. I managed to find a lovely guy in a pizzeria, who spoke no English, but who let me use their bathroom for Astrid. We were quite keen to try out his pizza but with a conversation involving our dodgy Italian and hand-signals it appeared there was no pizza at that time of day. He did offer coffee though, which I was quite keen on but I had to go find Anto and Soren, who we had left with the bikes.
We ended up at a cafe that had some pre-packaged pannini and pizzas they heated in an oven which were good for hungry and tired people, if not the best things we’d ever eaten. We then returned to the pizzeria to have that coffee and some of the best gelato yet. A hill-top town in the middle of nowhere in Sardinia can do great coffee and gelato! We had a licorice, a straciella, a pistachio and a creme anglaise. All were pretty amazing, even the licorice which doesn’t seem like a great gelato flavour.
Sindia was a cute little town but, like most of the others we’d been through, pretty much deserted! We’d completed only 25km for the day but the second half of the ride had more downhill than up, so we were hoping for some quicker riding. Back on the bikes and Anto’s tyre was flat again (today it was the other wheel) but we managed to pump it enough to get by.
The scenery for the afternoon was more pretty green fields full of horses, cows and some very hairy sheep. The local preferred method of fencing was the characteristic stone walls. We also saw plenty of windmills (the more modern version than those we saw in the Netherlands) which the kids were excited about…. until they both fell asleep in the trailer from exhaustion!
With sleeping children it was amazing how many kilometres we could cruise through. At the 34km mark for the day we’d finally hit a long run of mostly downhills. which took us on a pleasant run through vineyards with lovely views back to the hilltop towns we’d spent the morning riding up to. As usual the downhills had very few places we could stop for photos safely.
As the kids continued to nap we loped back through more tiny towns adorned with murals and back to Flussio we had briefly passed through early in the day. As we wound our way through some very bumpy cobblestone streets the poor tired kids somehow still managed to stay fast asleep! Anto and I were starting to feel a little weary by now and in need of more coffee and gelato………
The kids continued to nap for another 40 minutes tucked up in their trailer and we zoomed through another long section of downhill past more vineyards and heading back towards the sea. We could see many of those towns we’d visited throughout the morning perched up on their hills. Our legs were grateful we were now giving them a bit of a break from the hills.
Fifty-one kilometres into the days riding we went through the lovely seaside town of Porto Albae which had spectacular views over the ocean. Sadly for Anto’s legs there was a nasty climb back up out of Porto Albae and he still had both kids in the trailer……
As we left Porto Albae there was a rather steep downhill section back to the Bosa marina, but little did we know at the time, we were to ride back up it the next day…….. I can tell you which direction was more fun!
The last few kilometres were retracing our track out from the morning and as we knew exactly where our hotel was, it was a low-stress finish to the days riding. The legs were a little weary though and I was still rather bruised and grazed from the falls.
By the time we arrived back at our Bosa hotel it was 4.40pm and we were all tired, hungry, sore and sweaty. A hot shower was definitely in order before we walked back over the bridge and into the town for a well-earned gelato. Our favourite gelato shop (recommended by the hotel receptionist) from the day before was closed today so we had to go to the one next door. It’s convenient when there is no shortage of gelato shops.
We figured we had all earned our own cone today. Both kids chose a mint choc-chip. I had a cookies and cream and Anto had a chocolate. We are now gelato experts and all were really good but not as good as the ones from the tiny village shop earlier in the day. It’s tough when you have to eat gelato twice in a day!
As we were departing Bosa and heading South in the morning we wanted to do a little more exploring of Bosa. Before we left we made sure we grabbed some of the Malvasia wine grown in the region. Sadly we only got 1 bottle and by the time we drank it a couple of weeks later in France it was a long way from Bosa and no chance of obtaining any more. Next to no Malvasia wine is exported outside of Sardinia as it’s in limited supply!
We had been keen to check out the Malaspina Castle that sits on the hill above Bosa. The hilltop castle was built in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Tuscan Malaspina family and is the towns best known tourist attraction. Our reliable receptionist had recommended a visit but it was quite a steep walk up to the castle and our tired legs instead voted for a wander through the streets checking out the coloured houses and interesting roof lines.
During the end of the days riding Anto and I thought it was probably a good night for a hotel picnic due to everyone’s exhaustion. So while the kids were getting showered and into their PJs, Anto went over to the supermarket to find some dinner supplies. Our hotel had a beautiful big balcony so we sat outside as the sun set and had a dinner of our Dutch cheese (the one we’d purchased in Amsterdam), some local cheese and meat, the Sardinia, crispbread ‘carsau’ and some salad. Anto had his 98 Euro cent large local Sardinian beer. It was definitely a good night for a relaxed and quick dinner!
It was an early night after another big day of riding. Anto and I had looked at the map and elevations for the next days riding and were starting to wonder if this riding tour was a good idea! Lucky all the rides had been very scenic……
Daily statistics for Wednesday 12 April 2017 in the Bosa region, Sardinia – the temperature range was 14 to 20 degrees with 87% humidity and low winds, ideal riding conditions. The total walking for the day was 9.5km.
The total riding for the day was 59.4km with 781m of elevation (and close to all of that was in the first half). Our legs were feeling more than a little weary. Here is our Strava ride profile for the day. The hills in the first half seemed never-ending!
As a bonus I found out when I uploaded my ride to Strava that I’d gotten a Queen of the Mountain title for 11km hill climb section heading out of Bosa (the one with the category 3 and 4 climbs in it). I might just be the only woman with a Strava time, hence earning me the title but I showed up and rode it with a Soren on the back so it all counts!
Up next, another day another monster day of hills. Our hardest day of riding in the whole holiday which was rewarded with beautiful views and the most amazing meal in an ancient hill-top village!