Mountain biking was one of the least-documented activities in Sardinia but we have fixed that! In December 2011, Versante Sud published Italian and English editions of the first guide for 20 years to mountain biking in Sardinia, authored by Peter and two Sard biker friends, Amos Cardia and Davide Deidda. You can preview it here. ISBN 978-88-96634-44-8. The guide has 70 rides in the South and Centre of the island, of which 25 are in Ogliastra, and gpx files for all the routes can be downloaded here. Peter used all our route information, and designed, explored and rode for the first time (sometimes after repeated attempts…) 15 mountain bike routes. Cordee in the UK are the main English language distributors; see also Versante Sud retail outlets. We will also have it for sale at The Lemon House.
Previously, there was only the 1991 mountain bike guidebook, “Sole, Sale e Salita”, which has been out of print and unavailable for a long time. Its author, Chicco Porcu, scanned his own copy and you can download a pdf here. It has an introduction and glossary in English, so non-Italian speakers, with a bit of practice, can use it. Or there’s a translation we came across in internet here. Note that we didn’t prepare this translation and haven’t checked it, and that we don’t agree with some of “Sole Sale Salita”‘s valuations of difficulty, although this may simply be because tracks have changed in the last 20(!) years. eg The Codula Sa Mela ride is rated “Level of difficulty: easy. Cyclability: 99%” but you may not agree if you look at the video below, or it suggests riding back from Cala Luna to Cala Fuili, but most people find that they can ride only half of this trekking route, the rest they carry/push… Peter’s work substantially expands on the 6 of the guide’s 26 routes in this area:
We ride to Cala Sisine on the “best descent I’ve ever done, even better for being natural” from the plateau above via Su Irove Longu, and come back up the Codula;
The Codula Sa Mela above Urzulei which you see in this video on the left is part of an All-Mountain ride with 2 other technical sections. We are fortunate to be able to ride the new Ente Foreste walking trails, and this circuit of Perda ‘e Liana and Monarbu shown in the video on the right is one of the new guide’s 4-star rides. The circuit made by Peter on the Supramonte is involves more difficult navigation than the most challenging route in Sole, Sale Salita, also on the Supramonte. We also include some (very) easy routes for families.
The Regione Sardegna does publish a guide to MTB cycle touring around the island, using minor roads and “strade sterrate” (unmade roads) from one village to the next (A-B), though this isn’t technical mountain biking nor are the rides circular A-A routes.
For mountain biking on Sardinia, we use a number of different maps:-
- The best paper mountain bike map for Sardinia are from the Istituto Geografico Militare . We have all the 1:25 000 and 1:50 000 maps needed for Ogliastra, and they are really excellent for detail and contours, although sometimes the footpath information isn’t up to date and newer roads aren’t shown… we can tell you where they are! If you want to buy them in advance of coming, the best place to buy them in the UK is The Map Shop, Upton upon Severn. They keep a number in stock, and it takes them about 6 weeks to order other sheets. Here is an interactive map finder to decide which maps you need. If The Map Shop doesn’t have the required IGM maps in stock, it is also possible to order them from http://www.maps-store.it. There is an “English” button on the site, however the payments section is in Italian (though Steve who suggested this to us had no problems with the assistance of Google Translate). Minimum order quantity is 4 maps, and with shipping the prices are comparable to those from themapshop.
- The best maps for outdoor sports in Sardinia are in fact digital, derived from OpenStreetMap. See the example on the right: even the IGM maps don’t show the path from Santa Maria Navarrese along the coast to Pedra Longa! Various commercial applications add to this information for sports-specific use and distribute it in electronic form: Four possibilities to best use these maps:-
1. OpenCycleMap GPS Italy Digital Download – download digital map data for Italy and copy onto a SD card to use with your Garmin GPS
2. for people who are happy planning routes on a PC or Mac, download Openmtbmaps. Good integration with Garmin Basecamp for route planning.
3. for the increasing number of people who have smartphones or tablets with GPS functionalities, English guest Pete recommended the App OutDoors World Topo Maps – GPS for Hiking & Biking for iPhone, iPod and iPad from http://www.outdoorsgps.com A user-friendly browser interface lets you import GPX files and then load them onto your iPod or iPhone, like “Santa Maria Freeride” in the photo, and you can see routes other people have uploaded. Or MotionX GPS is one of the most popular Apps, also with OpenStreetMap (MotionX Terrain)-maps to download for use where there is no mobile phone network and to avoid data roaming charges. With this, you email your GPX file to you iPhone.
4. For those of you with an Android-Phone, http://www.openandromaps.org with similar OSM-maps is recommended, although we haven’t personally tested it.
- During 2009 the Ente Foreste della Sardegna worked very hard to improve 76 of the island’s mostly-inland walks (many of which are great mountain bike rides) and equip them with signs, and have published detailed descriptions in Italian and English of them in 12 maps. The project is called Un’Isola di Sentieri, An Island of Paths, and is one of the best such initiatives we’ve come across during all our time in Sardinia! As the map on the right shows, The Lemon House is ideally located for accessing these walks and rides, with four of the areas right on our doorstep: 4. Supramonte Ogliastrino 5. Gennargentu 6. Gennargentu Ogliastrino 9. Tacchi d’Ogliastra. You can download the maps and the brochure here. At The Lemon House we have lots of copies of the brochure and copies of the 4 nearby maps to consult but not to take away—they’re too precious! As described in the brochure, each map can be picked up free from the local Comune or relevant Ente Foreste station.