CORSICA and SARDINIA – islands ideal for cycling

Date: 8 June – 6 July 2009

Participants: Lucyna and Igor Czajkowscy

Distance covered by bicycle: 1650 km

By way of introduction:
"Igor, I promise I will practise cycling this year. I know what happened last year in Crimea, so this year I will work on my physical condition". This is what Lucyna said last February. As it later turned out, she only took 3 days in April to get accustomed to a recumbent bicycle with an under-seat steering mechanism, whereas on 7 June at 8 a.m. we were already in a car heading for Livorno, from where our conquest of Corsica and Sardinia was supposed to begin. What we were worried about was not just our (and especially Lucyna's) lack of preparation, but also the recumbent bikes in the back of the car. How will they perform in mountainous Corsica? Will we walk the bikes up every other hill? Thoughts were tumbling around in our minds. The main goal of this year's expedition – aside from taking a rest, of course – was to test two recumbent solutions. Lucyna's "Tour" was a fully suspended bicycle with above-seat steering and 20/26-inch wheels (front/rear respectively). Igor's "Enduro" was a 26-inch wheel model, also with a comprehensive shock absorption system. Igor had already covered a few hundred kilometres on his bike, and took part in two MTB marathons. Lucyna's bicycle, in turn, was assembled no sooner than 10 hours before departure. So much for the optimistic introduction…

Why Corsica and Sardinia? Sardinia was chosen because it is near Corsica. And Corsica? Before we set our feet there, it was just one of many islands of the Mediterranean Sea for us – just like for many other people, I guess. But as soon as you have spent a week there, you feel the need to go back to that place, longing for it like longing for home, for a beloved person, or for something magical.
Corsica is breathtaking, charming with its beauty and variety, frequently surprising. Sardinia is different: full of unbelievably curvy and narrow roads in mountain villages, offering friendly encounters with locals, and marvellous beaches on its eastern coast.

We are on the verge of labelling this expedition as the best one we have had so far. Two amazing islands, the whole distance covered by bicycle, no injuries or other mishaps – everything was just great! The results of our bike test were outstanding – even better than we had expected, for we had been afraid of uphill climbs on bikes loaded with heavy panniers. In the end, not only did we successfully complete 99.9% of all climbs (including a few passes at elevations exceeding 1000 m above mean sea level), but we also avoided tiredness and pain after each day's cycling. As our journey came to an end, Lucyna declared that she would never ride another bicycle.

Once again, we have a few "the most" things to include on our private list:
- the road from Calvi to Cargese – the most beautiful road we have ever taken (Corsica)
- Bonifaccio – one of the most beautiful places on the Earth (Corsica)
- Cala Luna – the most picturesque island in the world (Sardinia)
- downhill ride from Col de Sorba to Vivaroin – the best one in terms of sights (Corsica)
- Corsica's most beautiful region – Castagniccia (Corsica)
- the most beautiful street paintings – murales in Orgosolo (Sardinia)

After this journey, we know for sure – never trust a guidebook, or at least not the one to Corsica! No guidebook and no photo album will convey the things you can see on the island with your own eyes!

If you ever get a postcard with greetings from Corsica, do not think it was modified in Photoshop – the place really looks like that!

All in all, we cycled a distance of 1650 km – 860 km in Corsica and 790 in Sardinia.

Click this link to see detailed map