woman's world Mon 25 September 2017

Sardinia on 16 horses

After the Great journey to the North Cape, this year I needed a soft destination inclusive of sea, sun and heat! The original temptation was Greece and above all, the Meteora monasteries. But apparently the heat is unbearable there..... and so let’s try Sardinia. No sooner said than done; ferry booked. Departure from Genoa and return to Livorno, because that way we can also do a little tour in Tuscany before returning home. We spend a few evenings studying the Lonely Planet and a few “virtual” friends suggest contacts in the south of the island to do a bit of off-road. OK; we book that too. Monica from Sardinia asks me, which bike are you coming with? Street version! But I saw you have an enduro, you’ll get around better on that, Yes but my enduro is a 1986 Honda XL 200 R Paris Dakar.... and Renato begins to fantasize....Yes, let’s do it, why don’t we go with the XL to Sardinia? He has a 600 from 1987 but me with my 16 horses, what can I do? Top speed of 90kph on the motorway. I think even the drivers of articulated lorries that have overtaken me have asked themselves what the hell was I doing there!

The first days are an act of force between heat and chaos, B&B in Olbia, a little trip in the south and one in the north to see the Emerald Coast, the famous beaches, etc. Just as well you can go on the sand tracks with the bike or park on the footpath and you can reach some small beach not very crowded. The rest is normal overpopulation in August. The disappointment however came in these places that seem uncontaminated and forgotten by everybody and finding there a plastic bottle left by some jerk.
We do various circuits of 3/4/5 days so that we always have a different base to start off from and to be able to see as much as possible, looking to relax and get a bit of a suntan. How could you not go and bathe in such crystal-clear water?
A difference to what I expected, the roads are well kept and the asphalt is nearly perfect. Zero flat tyres and only soft curves. In the guide, they spoke about tortuous roads and narrow bends......I thought of sending them a photo of the Giavia Pass to enlighten them!
Absolutely not to be missed the panoramic Alghero – Bosa, the 125 that goes from Cagliari up to Olbia, the 126 from Guspini to Carbonia and many others! I didn’t find any bad roads. Sometimes I would like to have had a few more horses to enjoy myself a little, but better the way it was! The panoramas were breathtaking, nature dominates everything; km after km without houses, cars or people. Maybe some sheep, goats, wild boar and some nuraghes to remind us where we come from.
For doing some off-road there is so much choice: from the tracks going down to the beach to the panoramic stretch between Putzu Idu and Tarros, between sheer cliffs and white sand, to the white road between Santadi and Macchiareddu, to the island of San Pietro, to the Monte Rosmarino road. But to do things properly, Monica and Claudia organize a half day of enduro like the real thing with the right bikes and all the clothing. If ever you are in Narcao, ask for them! Result: a morning of fun between old mines, steep sea cliffs and ponds inhabited by pink flamingos. The only problem is always the same.... from the height of my one metre fifty, putting my feet on the ground is not always so easy and, thinking I’m touching, I end up sprawled in the middle of the myrtle bushes! What a great panorama from here though!

And the wine? I am studying to become a Sommelier and so it was also a study holiday! The techniques are different in our region, on the continent, the fields are mostly sandy and permit ungrafted cultivation; the wind, the heat and the water shortage, on the other hand, lead to the growing of vines as small trees. What’s more, the mineral content gives a savoury taste to the wine that is sometimes exaggerated! It’s seems like putting seawater in your mouth, almost. Let’s say I had to make an effort to find the best food/wine match for Vermentino!
Just at the end of one of the best lunches – we were at Portixeddu – we were going back to the bike and a woman came running towards me saying something about her husband. I felt like saying “It wasn’t me” but she took a breath and said “My husband is following you on a motorcycle blog and he recognized you! Please wait, he’s coming, he’s gone to park the car! WOW! The little old Honda has a lot of fans! The day after as well, they recognize us in a couple of posts. I’m not too sociable ?Going off with her was a bit of a challenge, my mechanic also put his hands in his hair when I told him. We did a good check up before starting off, and we took a couple of kg of oil with us, a clutch cable and a couple of spare levers, but naturally, the very one I didn’t have got broken!  After a day of meandering between the cliff and the beach from Putzu Idu a Tarros, we are 500 metres from the B&B and the accelerator cable is cut through. Fortunately, not far away there is a mechanic whohowever, tells us to come back the next morning, at 9. The programmes include an early departure to visit Oristan, Iglesias and something else, but haste is not in our plans and before one o’clock the bike is not ready. We use the time to do the washing, the shopping and make coffee. But since patience is not one of my virtues, I menacingly place myself in front of the entrance, in the hope of speeding things up. And maybe I annoyed him or maybe I distracted him; when I leave, I notice I have the fuel tap closed, I open it and I feel a spurt on my leg, he hadn’t closed the petrol tube! Who knows?...

In the end 2865 km in 19 days from Bergamo to Sardinia and back, and the XL is the perfect companion to best enjoy the roads and the panorama. After all, we are on holiday.....who’s in a hurry?
What can I say......  next year where do we go?

Text and photo by Francesca Morandi.