This Island Life
I've just returned from participating in the inaugural 'Isola 6+6' cycle event, a 1200km Randonee starting in Sardinia and finishes in Sicily. The format is simple, the riding anything but. The ride begins in Cagliari and traces a northern route towards to mountains in the interior, a 300km loop taking in the high ground before returning to the coast and south to Cagliari. 618km in total with an elevation gain in excess of 7000m, the course has to be completed in under 40 hours to be validated. Oh, and the event starts at midnight.
Once completed, riders make their way to the port and board the overnight ferry to Sicily. A chance to rest a little then before embarking on the next leg, a 595 km stage across northern Sicily from Palermo via the foothills of Etna and onwards to Messina before tracing back along the coast. A remarkable undertaking which i'm only just coming to terms with, I recorded 1215 km in total completed in 78 hours (excluding ferry journey) and with 13,500m of climbing, it was epic in every way. At times punishing but never brutal, both countries offer spectacular scenery, gorgeous roads and jaw-dropping vistas, both mountain and coastal. Add to that top quality cheap coffee, gelato, pasta, arancini and here you have cycling nirvana. Grazie Mille, Italia.
Here's a short video to give you a flavour of the trip, you'll have to wait four years for the next one but if you have a taste for adventure try one of these Italian Grand Tours.