Sicily – a cycling gem

I’m addicted to the mountains but live in a flat country! Therefore, every chance I get, I pack up my bike and travel to places which feature at least some elevation in the landscape. Fortunately, I have a husband who shares my interest in cycling in the mountains. So, the basic ingredients for our vacations are given; cycling and mountains. And great food and amazing coffee are highly appreciated added benefits. This summer, we decided to travel to Sicily.

 

I didn’t quite know what to expect, also in terms of how safe and easy it would be to ride around the island but to jump to the conclusion, it was fantastic. Not as easy as for example Mallorca but it offered a lot of other benefits in return. For one thing, it was absolutely road less traveled. During the whole time we encountered less than a handful of other road cyclists and, much more importantly, there were surprisingly few cars. We didn’t ride much along the coast but rather dived into the backcountry of the area where we lived and explored the spectacular Parc de la Madonie and also the small mountain villages. What was so amazing was that we would stand on our own mountain top one night and identify a village which it’s compelling lightening a few valleys apart from us, and then next day, we’d ride all the way up there.

We did so much amazing climbing, we explored a few gravel roads. Some of the dead ends but that’s all part of the adventure. And wherever you look, you have breathtaking scenery. Like the dramatic-looking rock formations, after all, it is a volcano island. I have traveled quite a few places by now but can’t really compare Sicily to any of them.

 

The coffee and the people

As most road cyclists would know, coffee is an important part of the cycling culture. And in Italy, you et the best coffee in the world! In every tiny village, you’ll find at least one modest-looking bar and for 1 euro, they’ll make you an espresso macchiato which just tastes likes heaven! Don’t go for cappuccino or cafe latté – espresso macchiato is what you order, at least if it’s afternoon.

The people are really friendly as well, they respect road cyclists and you and your bikes are welcomed all over. They might try and strike up a conversation and you will somehow manage, even if you will have to communicate only via hand gestures and facial expressions.

My top five tips

  1. Research in advance. Study the terrain card on google maps. Use the browser version, not just the app as that has more roads pinned in.
  2. Bring extra supplies and spare parts for your bike as you will most likely not have a high-end repair shop nearby.
  3. Bring some extra energy on every ride. We once thought we just had a 10 km climb but it ended up being more than 30 and then we had a lot of descending before we could find any food
  4. Use tip #3 only as a plan B. Plan A should always be to have lunch in one of the local Osterias. You’re welcomed in your cycling kit as long as you remember to praise the food; perfecto and bellisimo will get you a long way – and yes, you will like the food!
  5. Be adventures

 

If you want to know more details, I’ll be happy to provide some insight tips so you can plan your own Sicily adventure. I think autumn or spring will be an amazing time to go!

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