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Sardinia

Sardinia
— Training for nothing before hibernation —

Grab a group of friends. Discover a new place. Ride your bike.
Taste the local product. Spend a bit of time doing what you love.
Live a little. Smile a lot. And train for nothing in Sardinia.
PHOTO: Graham Longford PHOTO: Graham Longford PHOTOS: Alain Rumpf x 2

Fraternité. PHOTO: Graham Longford

PHOTOS: Alain Rumpf x 3

It was November 2011 when it was apparent that a
holiday was needed. My good friends Dan and Janine
are mountain sports photographers and they had just
finished a long season of shooting in the Alps. I was
working for the UCI at the time and was back from China
where I had organised the first edition of the Tour of Beijing.
We needed a serious break: all we wanted was to go south,
ride bikes, eat well… and relax before the onset of winter.
We ended up spending a week in Tuscany, exploring the
Strade Bianche, eating wild boar with mushrooms and
drinking Chianti. We called this our “training for nothing” PHOTO: Alain Rumpf

camp: riding in a beautiful place – just for the sake of it, one
last time before going into cycling hibernation. I had never been and was looking for a new destination Here’s everything you always wanted to know about riding one occasion. As we were coming down a hill on the third
The opportunity came up again this year to repeat the to take guests for some late season riding. Somewhere off the in Sardinia. Not that you were afraid to ask; you just didn’t day, we found the road blocked. By a herd of sheep. Nobody
experience. I was at the Maratona dles Dolomites to guide a beaten paths. One Spritz later and the decision was made: know this place is indeed a cycling paradise. complained… and many pictures were taken.
group for Grand Tours Project, the cycling tour company I we would go to Sardinia for a training for nothing camp. I live in Switzerland. Here, most roads are as smooth as a As a matter of fact, we barely saw any car outside of the
manage. The idea came from Marcello, our driver, chef, At the end of October, we spent four days with Marcello baby’s bottom and I am often shocked by the bad quality of towns. “Our population is a bit more than a million and a
entertainer and troubleshooter, who comes from Sardinia. and his mate Simone on the west coast of Sardinia. We asphalt when I go abroad. Not in Sardinia: even the small half, and one third is concentrated around Cagliari,” says
After a big day in the mountains, we were relaxing at the started in Tresnuraghes and finished at Alghero, the town lanes in the countryside are well maintained, which makes Simone. “The island is about 300km long and 200km wide,
– By Alain Rumpf bar, sipping on some Aperol Spritz when he invited us to that will host the start of the 100th edition of the Giro in for an outstanding experience. so we’ve got space. It’s still possible to live in the outdoors,
discover his Mediterranean island. 2017. In these four short days I discovered an amazing place. Still, I have to say that we were caught in a traffic jam on feeling alone and at peace, and totally immersed in nature.” >>
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The weather At home in Switzerland. Delicious food served any time of the day to hungry prepared a surprise. healthy food and a simple life apparently perform wonders. they bought this ancient villa in the small village of menu as the owner. then for the Giro as part of the Grand Tours The people Project holidays. tuna and swordfish accompanied by red wine: our This is the story Guglielmo will tell you when you return experience of Sardinian cuisine started with a bang. Like Ricardo. it into a hotel without losing the character of the building. an just fuelling) is also essential. and his wife Maria Cristina.” That sounds like good advice. a dish halfway between couscous and pasta. we had architect by profession. but mostly inland. dishes were brought in and we ended up having a full dinner in the cellar. They wait for you on organisers of the Giro d’Italia have unearthed a hidden gem the roadside with a full buffet: shepherd’s bread with honey. who hosted us cheese. amazing food and authentic meals. when we crossed it. In Sardinia. late October means wearing short fingered gloves… at best.Sardinia PHOTO: Graham Longford PHOTO: Alain Rumpf >> Not only are the roads smooth and empty. After their busy life and discover this cycling heaven. with suckling pig ***** as the main course.” says Simone. The food Sardinians are passionate people. of course. Through winding cobbled streets. for the start of the race next year. In many different ways: with its cliffs and big views. people are training for nothing camp in autumn.00pm. ravioli. one of the Sardinian wines. from local farmers and townspeople to a two-storey portrait of Garibaldi… it’s an Instagram heaven. Ricardo goes on a big cycling trip. 100th Grand Partenza: grandtoursproject. torrone (the local nougat). Ricardo. the temperature was between 22 and 28 degrees. Tinnura is one of them. my favourite roads are inland: tiny lanes that cut through the countryside between beautifully preserved villages. your bike in a secure garage equipped with tools. On our first evening. the hospitality tends to be hours before the pro peloton. where we will ride on the race course. there were no energy people: it did not take me long to understand that the drinks or tasteless cereal bars for rides. there’s an important detail: the guy is 70. “With long days. you’ll never look at your energy food the same way. Eating (not nights at Villa Asfodeli. the road that winds along the sea between Bosa and Alghero reminded me of the Pacific Coast Highway around Big Sur in California. First in the spring to enjoy some early warm weather. it was completely empty. but he’s also an adventurer and a storyteller.com 128 74 # . pecorino cheese and on Sardinia will inspire many cyclists to take a break from fregula. And. Marcello and Simone had himself. We spent our first two A good cycling tour is not just about the riding. But there’s more. His next season. they will tell you everything about the history get me pecorino cheese from his friend the shepherd next and the culture of the places you’ll visit with them. Cycling. from a big day out. take a siesta between goal: Beijing. turning every day at the local market. They restored it carefully. but he easily looks 10 years younger. I hope that this spotlight fresh fruit. Repairing a puncture there under the gaze of a three-metre wide griffon vulture circling above us was a highlight of our trip. spring is the best Every year. “In summer. While we were tasting it. cheese. winter may be a bit PHOTO: Graham Longford cold. We slept well that night. There was no 2007. I’m Swiss and I have a passion for introduce you to their friends. You can feel that Simone and Marcello are in love with another reason to go back. However. In Sardinia. In dinner at Trattoria da Ricardo in Magomadas. Homemade bread. a blast of colours and perfumes as well as marvellous light. With Simone and Marcello. But I also have real. fake at worst. cooks the fresh food he finds Tresnuraghes near Bosa. But the food experience in Sardinia is not limited to the Great riding. The descent into Alghero from the top of the steep climb of La Speranza is pure switchback porn. that. hotel: you can also get your kit washed every day and store They make Malvasia di Bosa. they are also gorgeous. save for the characters painted onto every wall space. for another standardised at best. I will be back. we were hosted by Guglielmo. Marcello promised me that he’ll their island. just In many holiday destinations. as you eat the pasta he just cooked For our second dinner in Bosa. They will time I am in Sardinia. It is possible to ride all year. Not only is he a fantastic Join Alain in Sardinia next May when he goes for the chef. Oh. even a negative part of cycling is a positive attribute of the adventure. In Sardinia. so I have to go back for the pecorino… n Alain Rumpf in his trattoria for our first dinner. we cyclists is not the only service provided by this bike-friendly were taken to the wine cellar of brothers Manuele and Luigi. All of Sardinian history and myth is represented. noon and 4. beautiful scenery. We rode in short knicks most of the time.

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