Chris Yarwood packed his bag and his sun screen for a week of sunshine cycling in Sardinia with wife Nicky and son Jack. Find out how their first family cycling holiday got on below:
So, we are off on our first cycling holiday, me Chris, my wife Nicky and son Jack who is 12. We all cycle a bit at home but apart from the odd charity ride we haven’t really done any long distances and certainly not over several consecutive days. So this will be a proper adventure. We have been to Sardinia before and loved the weather, food, wine and of course the sunshine. It looks like the perfect destination for a cycling trip…oh apart from the hills !
Day 1 We arrived late last night and our minibus trip from the airport showed us just how hilly and winding some of the local roads are. It’s therefore with a bit of trepidation that we climb aboard our newly assigned hire bikes and head out onto the local roads.
Fortunately, day one starts with a long winding downhill section. The roads are wide and smooth but really quiet, with exception of a cycle race coming the other way, using all the road ! Two other families are on the same trip, David and Cecilia with their son Domonic and Suresh and his son Nish. Luckily the boys are all of a similar age. The boys enjoy cheering on the peloton which seems to be going faster up the hill than we were going down it.
Everyone has soon got the hang of their bikes and the new idea of riding on the right hand side of the road. We are all blown away by how beautiful the scenery is and the coffee stop at the bottom of the hill in Fluminimaggiore is full of excited chatter about the challenges ahead.
A short ride from the coffee stop takes us to the beach at Portixeddu and already we are getting the hang of a more laid back holiday pace. We all play on the beach and in the cold sea for an hour or more before a nice picnic lunch of salads, hams and cheese. We follow this with coffee and ice cream at the local café.
The boys play football and wear themselves out even more before we tackle the climb back up to our agritourismo accommodation. The last section is quite steep and off road but everyone enjoys the challenge arriving tired but happy. Our rooms are great with high vaulted ceilings and fantastic views down to the sea.
Our host Francesco serves Anti Pasta on the patio with passionate descriptions of local herbs and cooking. Suckling pig for dinner goes down well with local wine and Francessco insists we try his local Grappa. My peddling might be slower tomorrow !
Day 2 Our guide Renato has warned us that there will be more climbing today but the days starts with a gentle up and down ride through small rural lanes. The roads get wider as we get to the coast but still the traffic is light, nothing like home. The coastal town of Buggerra is our coffee stop today but unfortunately the ice cream fridge is being cleaned…Buggerra.
After coffee the keen cyclists climb out of town whilst the kids (and Nicky !) jump in the minibus for an easier ride. Antonio our driver waves cheerfully as they drive past. A professional clown (seriously!) and acrobat he is a real character, great fun, and a real hit with the kids.
The coast road takes us to the beautiful beach and rocky cove at Cala Domsitca. We explore the rock tunnel route to a small cove and chill out on the beach before meeting up with the van for one of Antonio and Renato’s great picnics.
After lunch the long climb towards Nebida begins, 11 kilometres with a steep final kilometre then the promise of a really fast downhill for the adults. The climb is actually great, we set a steady pace, chatting as we go and spotting the old mine workings and railway tracks. Apparently this was the first electric railway in Europe, now all abandoned. The kids all do well making it about half way up the climb before they take the option to jump in the van. Nish (12) decides he can go further and makes it all the way to the final section, our new king of the mountains.
As promised the final section to our hotel at Nebida is super fast. “Don’t follow me says Renato” as he sets off at a pace. That’s too much of a challenge for me and I’m right on his tail as we clock up motorbike speeds down the hill.
The hotel is set right on top of the cliffs in Nebida were we are welcomed by the owners dog ChiChoo who turns out to be a real character and keeps us all laughing in the evening. It’s Nicky’s birthday so everyone in the restaurant gets a piece of her ice cream cake organised by Renato and Antonio. The large group of locals on the next table are very chuffed and stand up to loudly wish Nicky happy birthday.
Day 3 After the climbs of the previous day we feel we can now tackle anything and the roads to our first ferry crossing go by quickly with lots of chatting and laughing. We miss the first ferry as they are full, so opt to head into town for a pasta lunch. On the way we watch a religious procession led by every kind of bike, motorbike and quad bike imaginable. Very noisy and fun. We ride to the restaurant over roads covered in flower petals, the kids think that’s great.
After lunch we catch the ferry to St Pietro Island. The ferry docks in a small town where we enjoy a wander through the small streets and some fantastic ice cream. A ride along the coats ends at a Tuna Museum which unfortunately is closed for the day but we enjoy watching the waves crashing on the rocks to make up for it.
Our second ferry trip of the day takes us to St Antioco. I discover that ordering a Latte in Sardinia will get you just that, ‘hot milk’ much to the amusement of the local builders in the ferry café. Problem soon solved by ordering an espresso to produce a D.I.Y CAFÉ latte.
Day 4 Rest day on St Antioco island. Yes kids “REST DAY!”. No, that didn’t work. Table tennis, tennis, swimming and juggling lessons from Antonio all keep them active. We eat in the hotel restaurant both nights on St Antioco and the food is up to the usual high Sardinian standard. Lots of seafood, meats and pasta, not to mention the nice wines and “interesting” local spirits.
Day 5 After our rest day we set out on the longest section of the trip, 55km. Small lanes across St Antioco lead us to a lovely marina and sea front area. We stop to take some group pictures and soak up the views.
Antonio meets us with mid-morning snacks before we set off along the arrow straight road through the salt flats. Pools either side of the road are all colours of greens, blues, browns and pinks as the sunlight reflects off the salt water. Flamingos wander through the pools in the distance, it’s a really peaceful spot. At the end of the road we stop for more photos around the huge piles of salt and an abandoned train. Rento’s group jump shots challenge our timing.
Lunch is a picnic in a lovely town square. The boys make friends with the local nursery children who are out on a school trip. A lively game of international football sparks up, much to the satisfaction of the nursery teachers who can take a well-earned rest. They bring us mulberries to supplement our lunch, very nice.
Aside from our lively group the town square is really quite. David says it reminds him of a spaghetti western just before the gun fight. We cycle out of town whistling western theme tunes and laughing.
The kids take a ride in the van while most adults cycle and we meet up at a large cave complex. More ice cream then a tour round the caves. It’s nice to be in the cool of the caves after the heat of the sun. The guides wear puffer coats while we are still in our cycling shorts and t shirts. Clearly we British are used to colder weather.
Our agritourismo for the night really is rural, the style is familiar with a central restaurant building surrounded by outlying accommodation buildings containing large, high ceilinged en suite bedrooms. It’s all spotlessly clean. Tonight our bedroom is about half a mile from the restaurant across the fields, no one thought to bring a torch so it’s a good job the stars are so bright. Suresh points out the star formations to the kids.
Day 7 – Our last day. It’s not good to think it’s our last day but Renato has saved the best till last. Our ride runs along a really stunning section of coastline with fantastic clear blue sea and deserted coves below us. Rento warns us of steep climbs but our legs have woken up now and everyone proudly makes each crest with smiling faces. Jack is even disappointed when Renato tells him he is about to tackle the last climb of the holiday.
Our picnic is at the beach and we take a couple of hours to enjoy the sunshine. The boys make a big sandcastle and chase fish in the clear water. Our accommodation is in Chia, a boutique hotel, and to be honest it is a bit of shock coming back into town after all the remote accommodation. We celebrate our achievement with a glass of Prosseco before eating out at local restaurant. The night ends late eating ice cream outside in the town square.
Our adventure really did end too soon. We saw some fantastic scenery at the perfect pace to fully enjoy it. We stayed in some wonderful places, ate some lovely food, told stories and laughed at shared jokes. We’ve made some great new friends including our brilliant guides Renato and Antonio. And as for the downside, well we did compile a list of complaints, clouds were too fluffy, it was a chore having to take off our sunglasses when the sun set, some people were too tall and the sea water was just a bit too wet. That’s about the best we could do, turns out those hills weren’t a problem after all…
Want to find out more about this family cycling holiday? Check out Chris’ video below for more of an insight into this tour:
I don’t know about you but we want to hop on a plane right now and explore those incredible Sardinian coves! Thanks again to Chris Yarwood for sharing his family’s fantastic journey. Chris is the winner of our June customer competition and will also be in with a chance of winning £250.