Sicily is as diverse as it is spectacular. Surrounded by aquamarine seas, its rugged internal landscape is blanketed by mountains, volcanoes, vineyards and orchards, as well as cultural cities and picturesque towns, and is a cyclist’s dream. For many, it is a once in a lifetime destination.
For our cycling tour of Sicily, we have created a route that sees us riding from the west coast to the east, to provide an adventure that takes in many of the most beautiful places of the island over 10 days. We believe we cover the Best of Sicily, while still giving you the opportunity to explore on your own the areas of Palermo, Cefalu, the Egadi Islands and Aeolian Islands, pre and post tour.
On tour with us, you experience the salt pans, ancient Roman hilltop hamlets, 2000 year old Greek temples and ruins, the Baroque towns of the Noto Valley, the lava rock landscape of Mount Etna, swim in crystal clear turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, and stay in a range of places from historic towns to masserie in the countryside. You will enjoy homestyle Sicilian cooking, taste freshly caught swordfish cooked with tomatoes and olives, caponata, delicious pasta with local red prawns, sardines cured with lemon juice and mint, lemon granita, pistachio gelato……the list goes on and on. Every day will bring new and diverse flavours to sample, authentic dishes to taste and sensational wines to try.
This is the Sicilian cycling tour and cultural adventure of a lifetime
The Riding Experience
The landscape of Sicily is truly amazing and our experience of it will change daily. We’ll start with days by the Mediterranean coast, before navigating along rustic country roads that are beautifully quiet and offer stunning vistas of the island’s rugged beauty, and a land dotted with olive and orange groves. After progressing past the 2000-year-old greek temples and ruins of Agrigento, we’ll keep tracking east and through a landscape of arid forest that opens up into vast plains and then into endless vineyards. After a couple of days rolling through ravines and rock-strewn hills, our descents through limestone gorges take us to the flatter coastal landscape where we discover more vineyards and now almond and pistachio groves, together with a multitude of picturesque and scenic villages. Our final two days see us first ride around the awe-inspiring Mt Etna, always towering over us as we take in its spectacular volcanic landscape, before our final day’s ascent of the Sicilian giant, and our long and rewarding descent towards Taormina.
We have rated our Sicily cycling tour a 9/10 due to its 10 days of riding back-to-back and our final ascent of Mount Etna. While the daily average of 79km per day with 1,360m of elevation is in line with our Tuscany cycling tour, the total elevation after 10 days of riding is 13,500m, which is significant and requires considerable preparation.
How to Prepare
Our Sicily Cycling Tour is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable rides you’ll do in your lifetime, and will be enjoyed even more with the right preparation. So, where do you start and how much training should you do pre-tour to ensure maximum enjoyment?
We believe in three key thoughts and strategies for your preparation:
1. Be prepared to experience fatigue and discomfort
When riding day after day, there is the prospect of accumulated fatigue, particularly if your body is not accustomed to riding multiple days in succession. We believe it’s better that this fatigue is experienced at home during your pre-tour training, rather than on tour due to inadequate preparation.
The best way to prepare to overcome such fatigue is to ride a couple of 4 day blocks each week to 10 days, a few weeks out from the commencement of the tour. This can be a mix of on the road and also on an indoor trainer.
2. Your mental preparation is just as important as your physical preparation
It is important that you get yourself into a physical and mental state where you know that you can ride the distance and climb the hills because you have prepared for it – by riding routes at home that have a similar distance and elevation mix.
Our suggestion is to select the longest ride of the tour (day 3) and also the ride with the most elevation (day 10), and create a loop near home or find a ride on one of the indoor training apps, and make it a goal to regularly ride these, before you depart.
Another part to the mental equation is to not be concerned about ‘holding up the group’ on tour. With our ride management process and guide support, we manage our riding groups across all of our Italian cycling tours so that everyone has a great experience on the road. We often split the group into two to accommodate for various riders, and are all together for coffee stops, lunches and the finish.
So, what’s the ideal preparation? We have had guests ride the ‘full tour’ as part of their preparation, and before leaving home. This included riding eight days in a row with the full distances and elevation. They landed in Italy and enjoyed every day immensely because their preparation was ideal.
We understand that this ideal preparation is not possible for all guests, and so if you would like us to help develop a training program for you to complete prior to your departure based on your location and circumstances, please let us know at the time of booking your Best of Sicily cycling tour spots with us.
3. Make the tour your first stop in Italy
If you make the Sicily cycling tour the first part of your holiday, you will not lose any form or condition due to not being on the bike in the lead-up.
Our recommendation for an ideal trip after leaving home is a direct flight to Rome, with a connecting flight to Palermo, where you can spend 3-4 nights pre-tour immersing and enjoying this amazing city, while acclimatising to Sicily’s climate, ambience and cultural diversity.
A Snapshot of the Numbers
Below is a snapshot of the distance and elevation that we will ride each day, as well as a simple breakdown of the main features of each day’s course.
While there are some ‘longer’ climbs, the average gradients are low, which makes it easier to spin your way to the top. Most of the days have a ride profile that are similar to the terrain of our Tuscany cycling tour, where there are climbs of 5-8km in length.
Day 1 – 38.6km and 828m of elevation
1 climb of 15km with an average gradient of 5.4%
Day 2 – 85.7km and 962m of elevation
2 climbs today with the first 8.6km and an average of 3.2% and the second 8.8km and 3.4%
Day 3 – 102.8km and 1680m of elevation
5 small climbs of a couple of kms each, with the average gradient sitting at 1.8 and one climb of the 5 at an average 3.4%. However, there is 200m more of descending than climbing on today’s ride.
Day 4 – 96.7km and 1643m of elevation
A day of continual undulation with nearly as much descending as climbing.
Day 5 – 65.2km and 1376m of elevation
1 undulating climb of 22km with an average gradient of 1.8%
Day 6 – 82.7km and 1712m of elevation
One 8km climb with an average gradient of 5.4% and two lesser climbs both of @11km with gradients of 2.6 and 1.3% respectively.
Day 7 – 92.1km and 1069m of elevation
2 climbs today starting with 6.2km and 4.5%, followed by 6.5km and 5.8%, before a 34km run into the finish with a -.3% gradient
Day 8 – 67.6km and 892m of elevation
Only one climb of 5km with an average of 7.6% and then a 14km downhill run to the albergo.
Day 9 – 77.8km and 1270m of elevation
A gradual 20km climb at a 3.8% average
Day 10 – 81km and 2164m
We have a 28km climb with a 6.1% average and max gradient of 14.6%, followed by a 45km descent.
Our Sicily cycling tour is best summed up as the adventure of a lifetime.
To be able to traverse the island on a bike from the northwest where a great many civilisations have left their footprints, through ancient Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples, into the beautiful ravines and limestone gorges of the Iblei Mountains, before rolling through the UNESCO world heritage Noto Valley and its scenic baroque villages and towns, and culminating with the awe-inspiring Mount Etna and a final night in the hilltop perfection of Taormina – is in our view a cyclist’s dream.