Sardinia – cyclings’ hidden gem ?

A couple of weeks ago I spent a week on holiday in Sardinia on a Neilson Active holiday – I can’t stand sitting around on a sun lounger for too long, for one thing I go rather pink in the sun!

It was almost an ideal late summer holiday with cycling in the morning and sailing dinghies and catamarans in the afternoon when the breeze filled in. The exception was Monday when the breeze had already arrived by mid morning and I spent an hour sailing a Laser single handed dinghy in a “spray ball”.

If you do a Strava segment search for Sardinia, one of the top results will be the climb from Siniscola to Sant’Anna, a climb of 528m elevation over 8.2 km (5 miles) with an average gradient of just over 6%. My previous time two years ago was just over 40 minutes at an average of 235 watts. This year I smashed my PB with a time of just over 37 minutes at an average of 259 watts and at 169 bpm heart rate – only just short of my Function Threshold Power of 261 watts. It is a great climb, a steady gradient, good road surface bar one short section and no steep ramps. The downside is that there is no let up in the gradient – the gradient may decrease but it never goes downhill. The Strava KOM is 22:51 (Filippo Viti) and the best Neilson time of 27:16. As you can see from the photos we were blessed with “wall to wall” sunshine and temperatures approaching 26 degrees celsius by mid afternoon.

View from Sant’Anna

The reward for the climb is the fantastic descent with a few switch backs in the top half of the descent towards a water stop after which the real fun begins with seven switch backs in quick succession on the road down to the Torpe Valley and the reservoirs. The third switchback catches the unwary or over confident as it continues to tighten a little unexpectedly. I was glad to be riding my own Cannondale SuperSix Evo with disc brakes ! The alternative bike was the Neilson fleet from Boardman bikes with rim brakes – lots of burning brake blocks…

The start of the lower set of switchbacks

The sailing at Neilson Club Baia de Mori was great in the week I was there. A mixture of light winds for the beginners and a series of days with Force 4-5, sometimes Force 6 to test the more experienced dinghy sailors and when the windsurfers came out to play. On some occasions a large 1.5 m swell added to the excitement, particularly surfing downwind with the spinnaker up – top speed of 24 kph on a Topper Argo being my quickest time on the water all week.

The beach at Baia de Mori on Windy Monday !

The next ride in the UK was a shock to the system, half the temperature, flooded roads, sketchy descents with the debris from the hedge cutting and the potholes to avoid. Welcome back to autumn riding in the UK. Before I went away, my social media feeds were full of the 2019 Deloitte Ride Across Britain which brought back all the memories of September 2018. Part of me was tempted to give it another go. Then I looked at the amount of training I put in for the ride and I realised that I much prefer to ride for fun rather than having to meet a rigid training plan. There is a huge difference between a 50 mile ride and an 80 mile ride – around an extra 2 hours on the bike.