Today we met and interviewed product manager Maurizio Sini, a cycling enthusiast who loves the Santa Teresa Gallura area and knows it well.
Road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes… Maurizio shared his vast experience with us and revealed how easy it is to explore the unique landscape of the Gallura Highlands along its country lanes and trails.
- Hello Maurizio, can you tell us about how and when you became a cycling enthusiast?
My love of cycling began in the 1990s when, while watching the Giro D’Italia bike race on television, I noticed an athlete who was later to become my idol: Marco Pantani. Many cycling enthusiasts feel that it is more than just a sport: it offers lessons in life that, thanks to many similarities with daily experience, help us learn how to face hardship, extreme effort and failure, as well as success and, above all, fill us with that sense of freedom that leads to contentment. Like other kids, I always had my bike with me when I was young, only to put it aside when I hit adolescence. I rediscovered it as an adult about nine years ago, when a friend persuaded me to buy a new one. I then went to Tenerife with the specific purpose of training and that was the trip that changed my life. I had been on the island for about ten days without having found anyone to go cycling with, ready to give up and go back to Italy, when I was lucky enough to meet ‘granddad’ Antonio Vidale, a 70-year-old amateur, a world champion in his class, who has been my teacher over the past few years and has taught me everything I know about cycling. Every year, I meet up with ‘granddad’ and a group of friends from various different countries in Tenerife for our usual winter training and here on the island I was also inspired to achieve my plan in Santa Teresa Gallura.
- Are there trails that are particularly suited to bicycles?
The best cycling routes are undoubtedly less frequented country lanes, where you can safely enjoy the natural landscape. Cycle paths are obviously the best routes but, unfortunately, not all cities have them. As for mountain bike enthusiasts, the many parks and nature reserves are perfect places to enjoy being at one with nature.
- When is the best time of year to plan a bicycle tour in the Santa Teresa Gallura area?
The best time to plan a tour in Santa Teresa Gallura is from mid-March to the end of June and again from early September to mid-November. Those are the months when the roads are not as busy, the climate is mild and suitable for enjoying outdoor sports.
- Is this a sport that anyone, young and old, can try or do you need experience?
Cycling is a sport for everyone, young and old, though of course each age group should choose the kind of activity that is suited to its level of experience and fitness. That goes for enthusiasts too who, thanks to their constant training, look for greater challenges and occasionally try to stretch themselves beyond their limits.
- What benefits does bicycle tourism offer the environment and those who practice it?
One of the most interesting aspects of physical activities like cycling is the wide range of benefits that such a sport offers. A number of medical studies have compared the effect of cycling to taking medicine and, in recent years, significant evidence has repeatedly confirmed the importance of regular physical activity in promoting public health at all ages. For example, even in young children, exercise leads to a considerable improvement in cardiorespiratory and muscular strength, and a beneficial alteration of one’s organism and metabolism. Amongst adults, it reduces mortality rates due to a number of diseases and is useful in preventing obesity and even depression.
- What kind of accommodation do cycling enthusiasts need when on holiday? Does Santa Teresa Gallura have ‘bike-hotels’ (or the like) designed to welcome and support cyclists?
Cyclists need to find accommodation that helps them get the most out of their holiday. The following are the essential services that a hotel should offer if it wants to be considered ‘bike friendly’:
- A safe room to store their bike.
- High-energy foods, meals at more flexible hours or, alternatively, a pre-prepared lunch box in case of need.
- A laundry: cyclists need to be able to wash and dry their cycling gear quickly.
- A workshop: if guests can have somewhere to clean their bike and fix small technical problems that can occur when travelling, they’ll be overjoyed and completely satisfied.
- Local maps and direct contact with local guides.
Pleasant cycling holidays in Santa Teresa Gallura! Bicycle tourism has a negligible impact on the environment as it boasts zero emissions and a slow pace that allows people to enjoy the natural environment in a way that allows them to appreciate every tiny detail, fragrance, colour and sometimes even the stories that places can tell, something that’s impossible when using traditional means of transport, where everything races past us, filtered through a window pane. Last but not least, each leg of a cycle route can feature unforgettable occasions for enjoying local food and wine.