Corsica-Sardinia, Day 7

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Thursday, May 3rd

Today is our last day on Sardinia. We’ll leave the island from Olbia to sail to Livorno on the mainland overnight. But there’s some more of Sardinia to enjoy before we park our bikes on the ferry’s deck. After breakfast we find the first Italian fuel station attendant who is able to fill up a motorcycle tank completely and without spilling. I’m sorry I left the medal at home.

The SS125 from Tortoli to Dorgali makes for very enjoyable riding through beautiful surroundings this late morning. We’re not in a hurry today, unlike the four riders from Zurich who are quite fast until they encounter slow carabinieri, going in the same direction as we all go. We take our time at Passo Genna Silana to let two timid Dutch children sit on my bike and have a chat with their parents. Dad must have been practising riding winding roads because he is confusing tourist with Tourist Trophy. In fact, it takes quite some time before we catch up and give them a final wave.

Cala Gonone is a nice place to have an ice cream with a view of the Gulf of Orosei, a beautiful area where one could well spend an entire vacation. After this coastal beauty we ride inland again, to the formerly bandit-infested Orgósolo via Oliena. We’re in the middle of nowhere now and the road is empty, except for the occasional grandmother, dressed entirely in black and accompanied by what seem her grandchildren. We have no clue why they’re here and what they’re doing.

The village sign of Orgósolo is missing, but the town is properly introduced by a swarm of big black crows and a very strong stench of decay, coming from an enormous waste dump at the edge of town. It must have been a big dog that was buried here, probably with its owner. In town, we park among pensioned or unemployed men. There are no women to be seen anywhere except for a few tourists.

While enjoying the sociocritical murals all over the center of town, Markus notices something strange. There is no apparent traffic to and from this town but, every 30 seconds or so, occasionally honking cars drive through the main street. This can only mean that they’re bored out of their minds and driving around town all day. We find this as retarded as dumping all waste at the edge of town in otherwise unspoilt scenery, which is confirmed again when we’re leaving town at the other end. Leaving is easier said than done, by the way, because we’re behind a slow Fiat Panda on a narrow but very steep incline. So steep in fact, that we’re afraid of not being able to ride off again if we’d need to stop. We barely manage to keep riding by properly controlling the clutch at a crawling pace, but we make it in the end.

After a blocked road and a detour through the outskirts of Nuoro we find the SS389. This is a really nice and winding road through a forest of cork oaks and peculiar rocks. Most of them have been peeled already, exposing the dark brown inside of the trunks under the bark, making this area look like North Elbonia in dry season.

We turn right at Bitti, circumnavigating the town of Onani (partnered with Wankdorf) for obvious reasons. The start of what looks to be a promising road is narrow and partly strewn with gravel. A bit later the area transforms into near alpine scenery with pine trees, high peaks, good pavement and the occasional glimpse at Isola Tavolara. The SP3 from Lula to Siniscola is one of those gems that you normally wouldn’t find with a casual look at the map.

It’s literally all downhill from here. The road gets wider and I get into a bit of a racing mood, knowing that this will be the last mountain road for us on Sardinia, this time round. Soon we rejoin the SS125 at Siniscola, which has changed from the enjoyable winding road we knew to one of those boring motorways with an extremely low but broadly disregarded speed limit. The carabinieri at the roadside are unimpressed with the speed excesses as long as we don’t disturb their game of ping pong too much.

We leave the SS125 at Santa Giusta to take a detour via Vaccileddi. This is nice but doesn’t overwhelm us after all the beauty we’ve seen in the past week. We arrive at the ferry with plenty of time to spare and wait with the other motorcyclists until we’re allowed to embark. Interestingly, among so many lavishly equipped and nearly new motorcycles, most passersby are only interested in Markus’ 18-year old Monster.

On board we are supposed to tie our own bikes down. Markus and I discuss whether we should tie his self-retracting side stand to the front wheel for safety. We wouldn’t want to find his bike flat on the deck tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, a very heavy German rider, who has parked his BMW GS on its centerstand behind the Monster, has managed to get himself closed in between his bike, the panniers, the handlebars and the wall. Instead of heaving himself over the GS’s high seat he opts for the easy way out by wiggling himself forward under the handlebars. Then the athlete attempts to step over Markus’ bike, with his left leg swerving over the tank and his head over the tail light, thereby losing his balance and nearly raping the poor Monster with his abdominal hemisphere. Fortunately, Markus notices on time, and manages to stabilize the Monster (not the monster) with rolling eyes and a big sigh.

Near our cabin, Markus notices that his ignition key is missing from his pocket and goes back to the parking deck to search for it. Meanwhile I am supposed to listen to the stories of a corpulent Bavarian woman with a dog, and appear interested. Her husband senses his freedom and trots off too.

After Markus finds his key again, we have dinner, walk around on the ferry for a bit and write down today’s events. We’re looking forward to ride the roads from Livorno to Bologna through the Alpi Apuane tomorrow, and the tour at the Ducati factory, of course.

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