The Sardinia & Corsica – Riders’ Heaven tour was my first guided bike tour. It received’t be my final. For 9 days in mid-October, I rode with 10 skilled riders from six nations on intensely winding roads by means of spectacular surroundings. We toured the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia (an autonomous area of Italy) and Corsica (an autonomous area of France). Adriatic Moto Excursions made it simple: Simply present up together with your gear and trip.
Associated: European Bike Touring: What to Know Earlier than You Go
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 1: Olbia, Sardinia
After exploring Olbia’s outdated city on foot, I returned to the lodge to seek out 10 bikes lined up like troopers awaiting inspection. I acknowledged a smiling face from the Adriatic Moto Excursions web site and mentioned hiya to Anže Colja, our information for the Sardinia & Corsica – Riders’ Heaven tour. Six riders in our group had taken an AMT tour earlier than, and one was taking his fifth.
Later, on the introductory briefing, Anže provided insights about driving these Mediterranean islands. “The roads are incredible,” he mentioned, “the very best in Europe. Day by day we’ll trip slim, twisty, technical roads, however you’re not on a racetrack, you’re on trip. Are you able to see far sufficient to go? Wait till it’s secure, then commit and go! Deal with one another, and have enjoyable.”
Born and raised in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, Anže is an economist by coaching and an affable soul by nature. He speaks Slovenian, English, German, and Croatian, plus sufficient Italian and French to assist us order meals in eating places that cater to locals quite than vacationers. And, as we found, he’s one gifted rider.
Anže defined that our group would keep united, although not at all times collectively, utilizing the system of Static Nook Marking. Anže would at all times lead, one rider would carry up the rear, and riders in between would alternate “marking” the place the route turns by remaining on the junction till the following rider arrives. Every rider additionally had a GPS with every day routes pre-programmed, so it was arduous to get misplaced. And if we wished to go on our personal, we merely let Anže know.
We additionally met Peter Cvelbar, who drove the help van and managed tour logistics. Peter is a workers sergeant within the Slovenian Military, and he used a portion of his go away to work this tour. Every morning, we discovered our bikes wiped down and positioned for a clean departure, however he did rather more. Our baggage was ready for us in every new lodge room. Bike or tools points had been rapidly addressed. We got info relating to journey, meals, and tradition. Each disciplined and easygoing, Peter labored his magic behind the scenes so all we would have liked to do was trip.
After being assigned bike keys, registration papers, and GPS items, we checked out our machines. I selected a BMW F 900 XR for its torquey twin-cylinder engine, flickable dealing with, and robust brakes. Its Galvanic Gold colorway definitely stood out too.
Once we gathered for dinner, a information’s principal worth – native information – was revealed. In Olbia’s outdated city, Anže led us off the primary pedestrian means and alongside a succession of slim cobblestone alleys, previous an indication declaring “NO PIZZA,” and downstairs to an intimate restaurant. Employees had been anticipating us, and our desk was ready. After dessert, we returned to the lodge and traded tales on the portico, eagerly anticipating the following day’s trip. (Breakfast and dinner are included on this tour. Riders pay for his or her lunch, alcoholic drinks, and gasoline.)
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 2: Olbia – Ajaccio
Our first day driving took us north alongside the well-known Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and previous the granite and basalt rock formations that kind the 2 islands. The route was scenic and curvy, however Anže mentioned we hadn’t seen something but.
In Santa Teresa, we caught a ferry to Bonifacio, Corsica, a historic metropolis on a cliff, after which rode north towards Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and the capital of Corsica. The roads to Ajaccio grew to become tight and technical, with curves that simply stored coming.
Alongside the coastal street in Coti-Chiavari, I spied an unpaved lay-by with a stellar view, so I pulled over. Whereas taking pictures pictures, I walked as much as the best rocky level. A person was sitting there, seemingly alone together with his ideas, however he gestured for me to hitch him. “Parlez-vous anglaise?” I requested, hoping he spoke English. He shook his head. “Non.” So as an alternative of speaking, we shared the dramatic vista in silence. After some time I mentioned, “Au revoir,” and we shook arms genuinely, cementing a friendship of coincidence.
At dinner in Ajaccio, Anže requested the group which of the following day’s two route choices we most well-liked. I used to be leaning towards the longer possibility (extra driving), however he steered the shorter possibility by means of the sparsely populated inside. “Much less visitors,” Anže assured me. “And twistier.” Native information proved its price as soon as once more.
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 3: Ajaccio – Corte
Corsica has extra mountains and rivers than any Mediterranean island, and the roads hug the continually altering panorama. After a mid-morning break for espresso, we rode to the Calanques de Piana, spiky granite formations that rise from the ocean in shades of pink, brown, and orange. The street is carved into their sides. Locations to cease and safely benefit from the view are few, however Anže knew simply the spot. I arrange a gaggle photograph in opposition to a pink rock backdrop; that one’s getting into a body.
Subsequent, we turned inland for the mountain route. Flat land is uncommon on Corsica, so it’s widespread to see cows grazing alongside the street. They appeared accustomed to bikes passing by, however we slowed down and gave them area. I needed to wait as two cows crossed a one-lane bridge at a leisurely cow tempo. We additionally encountered giant pigs foraging within the street on fallen chestnuts. Later, Anže defined that Napoleon had planted chestnut timber alongside roads in lands he managed to supply his troops with shade and a supply of meals. The pigs appreciated that too.
We continued curving and gaining elevation. Our lodge in Corte missed the rugged panorama we rode by means of. The view from my room was gorgeous. For dinner, I selected native pork (chestnut fed?) roasted for six hours and served with cannellini beans. It was succulent – positively not your mother’s pork-and-beans.
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Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 4: Corte – Bonifacio
Anže talked about at our first rider briefing that he’s an teacher at a excessive efficiency driving faculty. I rode behind him as we ascended mountains by means of one hairpin flip after one other. I seen he was wanting again at me in his mirrors – at all times the teacher.
We constructed a good distance between us and the following rider, so Anže pulled right into a lay-by to regroup. Whereas we waited, I requested how I used to be doing by means of the hairpins and what I might do higher. He steered wanting even deeper into corners and modulating pace in turns utilizing the rear brake as an alternative of rolling off. On these roads, I practiced this system again and again. When our group stopped in Cozzano, Anže and I continued the lesson over espresso.
That night, we caught a blinding sundown from the limestone cliffs at Bouches de Bonifacio, a nature reserve. After some free time exploring the slim, cobbled alleys of Bonifacio’s outdated city, Anže led us to a small restaurant that caters to Corsicans.
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 5: Bonifacio – Alghero
As we boarded the ferry that introduced us there three days in the past, we left behind essentially the most intense, steady twisties I’ve ever ridden. Anže assured me there could be extra in Sardinia. Alongside the route in Località Multeddu, we visited Elephant Rock, which lives as much as its title. Farther on, we stopped on the coastal city of Castelsardo, identified for colourful houses constructed into the mountainside above the ocean.
We savored extra twisties and sparse visitors till we approached our vacation spot of Alghero. On this historic and congested metropolis, Static Nook Marking stored the group united. All of us arrived safely at our lodge because the solar was setting over Rada di Alghero.
The Carlo V Lodge and Spa is rated 5 stars. It’s the fanciest lodge I’ve ever visited whereas driving a motorbike. All through this tour, our lodging exceeded my expectations. The dinners had been spectacular as nicely. Every night, Anže ably chosen starters for the desk, then all of us ordered a la carte from the menu.
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 6: Relaxation Day in Alghero
A day away from steady, intense twisties afforded my thoughts and physique a well-earned break. Fueled by a rising Italian vocabulary, a willingness to wander, and two scoops of mid-morning gelato, I explored the sprawling outdated city. After lunch, 4 of us loved afternoon cocktails and a swim within the lodge pool, which wasn’t heated – brrrr!
When my abdomen signaled it was prepared for dinner, I looked for cucina tipica Sarda (typical Sardinian delicacies) and selected pescata de giorno (catch of the day). The server took me to pick out the particular fish the chef would put together for me. “You want grilled with patatas and pomodori, signore?” Sì, grazie. The chef served my dish tableside, and every part was scrumptious. A lemony concoction arrived for dessert, then I ordered a dram of 16-year-old scotch to finish the expertise. Strolling again to our lodge, I bumped into tour members eating al fresco on the seaside promenade. All of us had a great day without work.
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 7: Alghero – Cala Gonone
Refreshed and prepared, we adopted Anže alongside the winding coastal street south to Bosa. As we rolled by means of city, a smiling outdated lady stood on her stoop and waved to us. I blew her a kiss in return, and by the look of her response, I suspected it made her day.
We stored twisting east on roads much less traveled by means of Macomer and on to our first cease, the Nuraghe Losa of Abbasanta. It’s certainly one of hundreds of cyclopean stone monuments distinctive to Sardinia and constructed by a Bronze Age individuals referred to as the Nuraghi between 1,600 BCE and 1,200 BCE. Anže organized a personal tour, and a pleasant lady named Pina helped us admire the monuments and the individuals who constructed them.
Over lunch, Anže reminded us to embrace Sardinia’s providing to riders: roads with virtually excellent grip and corners that appear to proceed without end. AMT schedules the Riders’ Heaven tour twice a yr: in spring (earlier than vacationer season begins) and in fall (after it’s over). That’s why these roads had been largely ours.
For afternoon espresso, we stopped in Orgosolo, which has murals painted on buildings all through the city. Most function themes of social resistance, and plenty of appear knowledgeable by the fashion of Picasso’s Guernica.
Subsequent, we carved curves down the mountains to Cala Gonone. Our lodge was throughout the road from the Mediterranean Sea, and a number of other of us loved a swim earlier than dinner. Fortunately, the water was hotter than the lodge pool in Alghero. After dinner and extra dialog, I retired for the evening to the sound of waves crashing ashore exterior my window.
Adriatic Moto Excursions Riders’ Heaven Day 8: Cala Gonone – Olbia
After following intently behind Anže for a number of days, I volunteered to carry up the rear, which offered alternatives to get pleasure from surroundings that wasn’t whooshing previous in a blur. Past Lula, we gained elevation alongside a meandering street chiseled into the mountainside. As much as the east had been bald peaks reaching skyward. Off to the west was a rolling valley of inexperienced forest interrupted sometimes by terraced farmland. A street was carved into the following distant mountain too, resulting in a village perched on a rocky hillside. Farther west had been a number of rows of rock-topped mountains fading into the horizon.
From Nuoro to Bitti, the roads zigged and zagged by means of cork plantations and over mountains. Ultimately we reached Olbia and concluded this unimaginable journey on the identical lodge the place it began. Peter welcomed us with champagne, and we raised our glasses in celebration. What a visit it had been!
At our remaining dinner, Anže instructed me that Sardinia and Corsica are his favourite locations to trip, with out query. “Not for the sights or meals, that are nonetheless good, however for the roads, that are insanely good. The grip is nice, the curves have constructive camber, and also you simply preserve twisting by means of mountains, forests, and coastlines. And low season, when the crowds are gone, you’ll be able to simply go.”
AMT’s Riders’ Heaven tour was a incredible expertise for me at each degree: bike, roads, routes, surroundings, sights, cities, cities, individuals, meals, lodging, management, logistics – the entire bundle. And leveraging a information’s native information brings all of it collectively.
In 2023, the Sardinia & Corsica – Riders’ Heaven tour runs Might 13-21 and Oct. 14-22. Go to the Adriatic Moto Excursions web site for extra info.