Warren
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A Motorcycling Paradise

I became aware of Sardinia being a motorcycle destination back when we had print magazines and manufacturers wined and dined journalists at new bike launches in special riding places.

From regional Australia it was four flights and three days to get here. I flew with Cathay Pacific via Paris. The last time flying with them was 1992 when I purchased a ex British Post van in London and drove it around Europe. Pre smart phones and GPS I just had a paper map and free camped. Predating the Euro zone I cashed travelers cheques at every border for new currency and never had insurance or a clue what I was doing, just limitless youthful energy. Now travel has never been easier and I have a mountain of experience but every trip is a little more demanding.

I was delayed in Paris unexpectedly when a plane ran off the runway and grounded all flights into Olbia, Sardinia. Big shout out to Air France who provided me with a airport hotel room, amenities kit and two meals. It wasn’t their fault but they stepped up with amazing customer service. Compare this to Qantas who “delayed” my flight home 24 hours last year in LA and did nothing.

This year I’ve already traveled a lot and feel a little burn out coming on but I’m pushing myself at the moment because my last scan was not clear and I will likely have further cancer treatment after this trip which could rule out travel for some time.

The Ride

I booked a BMW 750GS from MotoRent Sardinia in Olbia and was provided a brand new F800. I did not want another ADV bike for what will be a pure tarmac road tour but it’s hard now to find standard road bikes for rent anywhere. Regardless the F800 looks great and I think will work fine.

Within 10 minutes I am out of town and off the main road and into the corners. Already I am getting a good feeling about the roads here. Well surfaced, good surveying but better yet – very little traffic on the minor roads.

It is 21 degrees with blue skies. Perfect conditions for a motorcycle ride and the corners just never let up. I have been riding all morning like this and today my route does not yet follow any of the famous riding roads here – it is just a warm up.

When I rode Sicily I found it was difficult to find anywhere to eat lunch on tour. In the mountains the small towns were all shuttered. Here looks similar except each village has a small supermarket tucked away off the main road. There I am able to pick up drinks and fruit and some have a deli with sandwiches or at the very minimum a focaccia. I brought my folding cooler bag with me and then all I need is find a place to take a rest.

Most of these small towns have seats under trees so today that is my lunch break.

And with every town perched on a high position the views are also nice.

Another challenge in Sicily was getting fuel. Away from cities pumps were all unmanned and needed cash to be inserted. I lost my money a couple of times with faulty machines and then there was no change given so also got caught needing fuel with only a large bill and forfeited the change once my tank was full. This is no longer a problem as now most are cashless.

I am trying to use my phone to navigate on this tour. I am forever the optimist that one day my phone will be able to replace my 14 year old Garmin. Alas that day has yet to arrive. MyRoute App which I had been trialing now refuses to communicate to my headset or navigate a route if in my pocket.

Memorial to a fallen rider. Glad I got past that stage of thinking I need to ride fast or competitively in a fairly short period. Helped no doubt by moving away from riding in groups and starting this web site.

The roads continue to be superb all afternoon but hard to photograph.

I have a new 360 camera. The Ricoh Theta X. It is 60 megapixel and shoots up to 11K. So far I am not seeing the quality I thought those specs would deliver but it is early days. I had no time to use it before leaving on this tour.

Day 1 route. Click to see more. (Ignore the date on map)

The forecast next morning was rain moving in the same direction I was going. I took a peek out side at 7.00 and indeed it was raining so I went back to bed albeit not managing to get much more sleep.

Waiting for the rain to pass saw me not on the road until 10.00am. The modeling on Windy weather app was showing the rain moving across the island but the local forecasts were saying it would be fine by lunch on the other side so I did not put my rain liners in and rode off hopeful the mountains would stop the rain spoiling my day.

First up a superb coastal road which even in damp conditions was spectacular. Unfortunately I could not find a good vantage point to photograph it. I really do need a drone to photograph roads but I always think they would be too much bother. On this coast road I stopped four times and still did not get one good photo. Maybe in total as long as it would have been to fly a drone and have a great photo.

I was one step behind the rain all morning and in the mountains almost needed my rain gear but then I rode through it and into blue sky on the other side.

I packed some lunch items so when I saw a nice roadside rest stop I pulled in. Not many of these spots in Sardinia and there are no public toilets here anywhere. Literally zero. Not in towns or at petrol stations which are unmanned and locked.

All the towns are same colour. I presume this is legislation.

Despite a late start my daily routes are not long so I have time to stop and smell the flowers – just the way I like to tour.

From the central mountains I ride route 198 which I was not expecting a whole lot from but turns out is one of the greatest motorcycle roads I have ridden anywhere. It is endless corners, all with good surface and predictable surveying and almost no cars. The road seems like it was designed for motorcycles.

I wish I could have photographed it better. That bridge is the only straight section of road in 2 hours.

As I move East the number of bikers quickly grows. Many BMW GS 1250s. I tried to help one group with German number plates who had a flat tyre but they did not want to deal with my lack of German language. Your loss guys, I always carry mini compressor and plugs.

My photos and words do not express how good this road is to ride. It’s like the perfect set of curves that goes on and on and on.

Getting closer to the coast I crossed paths with huge group of new V4 Ducati Multistrada’s. Probably 40 bikes riding very fast but unable the stay in their lane. I don’t like being around these sort of riders especially when they are oncoming.

After a day with thousands of corners I was ready for a cold beer but not exhausted. The F800 is such an easy bike to ride on these roads. It turns in easy handles nicely. It’s fitted with Maxis Maxventure tyres which I have never used before but have a great feel to them. Very confidence inspiring.

This east side of the island is swarming with bikers this morning. 100’s of bikes. I drift south to take a different path back over the central mountain range to the other side of island and unwittingly end up on a road of choice for the fast and furious.

I cannot recall seeing so many guys riding in one piece race suits since the ’90’s. Lot’s of superbikes and super nakeds being ridden very fast. I slow up and wave them past me or get off the road all together since they are taking lots of chances cutting across the lane on blind corners like it was a closed circuit. You don’t want to be anywhere near when their luck runs out.

Good opportunity to take more photos waiting for a break in the racing.

It is not as dramatic as the Dolomites but still scenic and the roads are so much better. The Dolomites has narrow switchbacks but here the roads are perfect.

Above a typical section of road this morning with a group of riders in formation heading up towards my position.

Some of the inner mountain area is a lush green farming tableland. The beauty of Ireland without the rain and still the roads here are wonderful.

Another mountain pass this afternoon as I drop down from the highlands towards where I am staying tonight.

With modest daily routes I have time to stop in some of the small towns along the way. Wish there were some coffee shops or something for tourists to look at but with the afternoon siesta all shops are closed.

Unlike Sicily where every meal was excellent I have found the food here poor so far. I have not had what I would call a good pasta or pizza yet so tonight upon seeing there was a fast food option (the first and last on this tour) and feeling hungry before the restaurants open at 7.30pm I dined at the Golden Arches. I took the photo because look you can get a beer instead of a soda for just 50 euro cents extra 馃檪

Day 3 route.

It’s a gloomy start the next morning as I ride to the South East corner of Sardinia. Here I find a very nice coastal road that would no doubt be beautiful on a sunny morning.

From here riding north west I come across another amazing motorcycle road route ss195 that was not even listed on any of the sites about riding Sardinia.

And the sun came out which made me smile even more.

Some regular roads and highway next to get over to the South West corner of the island skirting around the city of Cagliari where for the first time on this ride I encountered cars being aggressive. Big cities always show you the worst of a place.

I haven’t posted any tunnel photos since I left Japan

However once away from the outskirts of Cagliari things calmed down and the traffic thinned to almost nothing to provide me a wonderful coastal ride north.

Sheer joy riding this almost empty road that links a few idyllic beach villages. Wouldn’t be a bad place to retire.

I followed the old road ss125 north, it has been replaced with a new four lane highway which I had to hop on and off a couple of times to link the old bits together. Not as special as the mountain roads but still an enjoyable ride to my seaside hotel.

I don’t usually stay in resorts but ordinary hotels in this town were same price so I am at a “adults only” retreat and am the only single person here haha.

It’s a tough life this motorcycle adventuring.

Day 4 route.

My last day riding Sardinia is all about route SS125 north from Tortoli. This section of the old road is the most famous riding route on the island. I had my doubts after yesterday afternoon on parts of the SS125 but I need not have worried – it is an unbelievably good road albeit swarming with speeding bikes which put me off my photography on the southern side.

Sorry about the image tearing.

Couple of photos from the Ricoh Theta near the top but I am not able to convey how good this road actually was.

The road then descends all the way to the ocean with hundreds of corners and great views. From the seaside I climbed again on a minor road that turned out to be another great ride.

Wow Sardinia just never lets up.

I drifted north back into the mountains on some lesser known roads that were more open and flowing which I usually prefer to twisty roads however here the surveying is so good. No reducing radius corners, no off camber, no mid bumps or tar snakes. Just every corner with a beautiful radius made for rider enjoyment.

Riding on lesser roads from the mountains back towards Olbia I was not expecting anything else special however Sardinia had one more fun ride for me on route SP37. A terrific less tight mountain pass with zero cars.

One last stop to look out over the motorcycle paradise that is Sardinia. The F800 has been terrific. I love it’s nimble handling and the quick shifter pro. Whilst I previously have said I was not a parallel twin fan this 800cc engine has been excellent and changed my mind.

Day 5 route.

I have gushed quite some about how good the riding is here, maybe it is starting to sound like hyperbole. I’ve ridden a fair bit of the world including many famous riding roads. Here is the best riding I’ve experienced in Europe and quite possibly the best roads I have ridden anywhere. That’s not something write without careful thought. Sardinia is not as scenic as the alps but those roads are older surveying with lots of switchback corners (hairpin corners) which are not fun. Here the roads flow beautifully and the local chip stone used in the tarmac provides excellent grip. You don’t get high mountains but the mix of rocky outcrops, lush green highlands are ocean views offer plenty to please the eye.

Put Sardinia on your bucket ride list. I’d like to suggest you put it above riding the European alps (and the Adriatic and Romania) but I know that might be unrealistic for anyone who has not ridden the alps yet but at least consider adding a few days to your euro ride for here.

4 Comments

  1. Wow, great photos and the roads look awesome.Shame about the lack of cafes etc; but you just have to make the best of what is on offer. Konbini’s still rule , it’s a pity similar offerings aren’t a universal thing. Great write up Warren, stay well and ride often mate.

  2. I had to google where Sardinia was as I didn’t know.
    Wow what a fantastic biking country, must be about the size of tassie if you can ride it in 4 days. Those roads look amazing. You are correct in saying a Motorcycle Paradise mate. Those squiggly lines on the map look great.

    Laughed seeing you having a beer at Macca’s. I still wouldn’t go there even though they have beer, haha.

    • You would love riding Sardinia Steve, it’s like every corner from every good road ever packed into one magical place.

      I take a look at Macca’s and KFC in every country I visit. The quality of the food (and the menu) varies considerably.

      Wish I had chosen Maccas tonight. I am in Portugal and got some local food which was so bad I could not eat.

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