Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Back from the land of the Cycling Tifosi

So Sardinia came and went more quickly than I thought it would.

Well, sitting here on a rain drenched London evening makes it hard for me to imagine that just a few days ago I was worrying about Fred catching too much sun while hanging out on Capo Testa.

We had a really fun packed week.

The first day was a bit of a blur. We'd been up at 1.30am on Saturday morning to make the tedious journey up to Stansted for our 6.15am flight. Our arrival in Alghero was then followed by a long coach transfer along a twisty road. We finally reached our hotel, just outside Santa Teresa Gallura in the early afternoon.

It was great to finally touch down and find ourselves right on the Mediterranean coast. Our hotel, La Marmarota, was a type of holiday complex. It was quite idyllic to look at - set right on the coast, among palm trees and very colourful flora. The waves were wafted across the shores at the bottom of the gardens, as the sun shone down. If we looked hard enough we could just make out Corsica. I actually felt quite spoilt to be "just a cyclist" in such a lovely setting.

With all the excitement of finally having arrived in Sardinia we set up our bikes and rode out to the nearby town of Santa Teresa Gallura, 4miles away. It was quite a pleasant town with that sleepy Southern Italian feel about it - children playing in the streets, sleeping dogs etc. As Santa Teresa wasn't really touristic there was definitely an authentic Italian feel about the place.

The following day, with a bit of trepidation and apprehension, we started the Giro Sardegna, and we made it through the week. (Details in the next post.)

My memories of the week are :
The toughness of the riding. For many, the Giro might be a glorified training camp before the Gran Fondo season kicks in for real, but essentially this is still treated and ridden as a race - doing a race every day for a week is not easy !!

All plans to go sight-seeing in the afternoons went out of the window, as my main concern was to recover/rest up in time for the following day !

Riding along at barely 10miles an hour into the characteristic Spring wind of North West Sardinia.

Being in such a complex meant you had all your fellow racers around you. People were very friendly and always interested in talking to you. I got to meet many people during my week. Note to oneself - study more Italian for next time.

Being called onto the stage to be "podium girl" handing out prizes to the winning riders in front of a large audience. Well, who would say no to kissing a load of Italian blokes ??

On the last stage, being paced around the 170km-course of the Gran Fondo Costa Smeralda by some very noble Italians. Christ I needed it, I was cream crackered !

The copious amount of food that was on offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We might have ridden almost 600km, but I bet I still put on weight by the end of the week !

Strolling around the wild, rocky coastline of Capo Testa - the most northerly tip of Sardinia.

By the last day, the Saturday, there was a real "the party's over" feeling. People had had a great week, and were sorry it was coming to an end. When people parted company it wasn't a case of "Good bye" but more, "See you next year".
I certainly hope to be back there again.
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