I've been wanting to write on this topic for awhile since cycle touring is one of my favorite ways to travel in Sardinia. Here we'll discuss the basics about cycling in Sardinia, where to stay while touring, and what to expect on the road.
If you're not sure what cycle touring is, check out an excellent overview of the history and common practices at Wikipedia.
Options for Cycle Touring in Sardinia
I personally am a fully self-supported cycle tourist - meaning that I pack all my belongings on my bike and stay in tents on the road. I prefer this way to travel through Sardinia as it's cheaper, more intense, and gives me greater flexibility on the road.
Another option is known as credit-card touring, where cyclists may bring their necessities along but plan to stay in hostels or hotels along the way and eat in restaurants. Both have their adherents and advantages among tourists in Sardinia.
There are many companies offering cycle touring trips complete with guides, rest stops, SAG wagons and food on mainland Italy. To my knowledge, the only one currently operating in Sardinia is DolceVita Bike Tours operating out of Pula, in the south. I know one of the guys operating it and they are very friendly, speak excellent English, and offer both mountain biking & road tours. That being said....organize your own trips, you'll appreciate it much more. For those who will insist on paying for a guided tour...sigh...here's their information:
DolceVita Cycling Tours
Viale Segni, 16 09010 Pula (CA) - Italy
ph & fax +39/070/9209885
Definitely check out their website for some good itinerary ideas even if you don't plan to book through them.
If you're planning on bringing a bicycle to Sardinia, your best bet will be to fly it to the mainland and then take a ferry from Livorno, Civitavecchia, or Sicily. Most ferries will charge a bit extra for the cycle but it's not nearly as expensive as a flight and you have a smaller risk of damage to your bike. I'd highly recommend Cagliari as a jumping-off point if it's your first trip. The city is lovely and it gives you a chance to iron out any problems before you get anywhere remote.
Arriving in Cagliari, if you intend to spend a few days touring the city you'll need to find a place to stay. I've had good luck with the Hotel Miramare near the waterfront. It's definitely a budget hotel and they're used to odd travelers tumbling in off the Sardinia ferries.
Via Roma, 59
09124 Cagliari (Cagliari), Italy
+39 070 664 021
Another option, which I fully plan to check out on my next trip cycle touring in Sardinia is a campground I've heard of on the eastern side of the city, along the water in Quartu Sant'Elena called Pini e Mare (Groves & Sea). Can't really rate it for you, but here's the details. If the website is to be believed, it has spectacular access to the water.
Pini e Mare
Strada Statale 554, Km. 12
09045 Quartu Sant'Elena (CA), Italy
+39 070 803103
So, wheel yourself off the ferry, grab a bite to eat and find a place to stay. Fair warning - theft is a major problem in Sardinia, so chain it, lock it, chain it again, and don't stray too far. Travel insurance is something I highly recommend in the event your ride gets stolen.
Repairs while Cycle Touring in Sardinia
If you're going to need repairs on the road or need to pick up a few spare parts, I've had excellent experiences with Bike Park Shop in the Quartu Sant'Elena area of Cagliari. Some of the techs even speak English (my knowledge of Italian cycling terms is pretty grave) and can give excellent advice on the best routes and trails. You might luck into a few other places in your travels but don't bet on it. Pick up what you need here.
Bike Park Shop
via marconi, 45
09045 Quartu S.E (CA), Italy
+39 070 837 301
Along the road, you're going to be responsible for your own bike repairs, so make sure you've packed spare tubes and tyres and know how to use them. Depending on the length of your travels and how much off-roading you plan to do, you shouldn't have too many frame problems. Brake & gear wire is also something I bring since I seem to have a problem with breaking them on the road.
Cycling on Sardinia's Roads
Ok, so you've gotten to Sardinia, made any last minute repairs, spent a couple of days in Cagliari and now you're ready to get on the road. Great! Sardinia actually has pretty good roads so hard-core road cyclists won't have a problem as long as they stay on the pavement. That being said, I'm kind of a maverick - in that Sarah Palin way wink, wink - and I like the freedom of straying off the pavement onto some of those fascinating dirt roads. So I'd recommend anyone planning any cycle touring in Sardinia invest in a touring-specific bike. I'm not going to list any manufacturers, but touring bikes have solid steel frames, fatter tyres, and are built to carry loads. No wimpy carbon or aluminum frames for us!
Next time.... An itinerary along the southern and western coasts!