Ferries are a great way to travel, but unlike almost all other types of transportation they have an annoying habit of arriving too early then brutally waking you up with some loud abrasive noise at 5 am. Not an ideal way to start the day. On the other hand a new country is always exciting and we had two days of cycling across Sardinia, plus a cup of decent coffee to look forwards to.
We’d opted to take the back roads through the hills because we’re hard like that, but also because the coast road looked gnarly. It was the right choice. Even at 6 in the morning it was full of fast, scary drivers and plenty of trucks.
By contrast the interior of Sardinia is deserted. And beautiful. And very fucking hilly. We didn’t know it at the time but this was the start of a two week period where we would ride a grand total of about 40 km on the flat. The rest was relentlessly up then briefly down then back up again.
We knew the hills were coming, but many things about Sardinia took us by surprise. We rode from Porto Torres to Olbia, across the north tip, and the small towns and villages were ugly, and empty, with at best a small shop and a crap cafe selling industrial panini and ice cream. You can’t drink the tap water. The restaurants, generally, were pretty poor.
But the roads were empty, the countryside was stunning, the people were friendly and it didn’t piss down with rain. On the first day. In fact the first day was pretty much perfect. Fabulous riding topped off with finding a great spot to camp and a delicious picnic.
Day 2 was different in that it rained. And rained. And rained. Then it stopped raining, but only long enough for someone to say “hey it’s stopped rai…” and then it would rain again. Not just drizzle either: hard, persistent, torrential rain of the sort, the locals helpfully pointed out, that was pretty much unknown in northern Sardinia.
And here’s the thing: it wasn’t so bad. James had recently cycled across Scotland so was not chickenhearted about rain. On the other hand it was very close to the top of the list of things I didn’t want to have to deal with and I had spent a good deal of time fretting about it and hoping it didn’t happen. I know, pathetic right? But I put on my waterproofs, fixed a smile on my face, thought at least it’s warm and managed to more or less enjoy it.
Lunch was a sandwich which we ate sitting on a wall in the middle of nowhere. In the rain. Laughing.
It finally stopped and the sun came out when we reached the coast. Olbia was a funky place where we ate an overpriced not very good meal in a posh restaurant and James contrived to shatter his granny gear into pieces whilst barely moving. This was potentially a disaster since we had only just started with hills, but we decided to worry about it later and got on the ferry to the Italian mainland.