Photos: Biking The Undiscovered Mediterranean

Nov 29, 2022 at 13:25
by Pierre Lucianaz  
Text: Sophie Riva and Pierre Lucianaz
Photos: Pierre Lucianaz

We both needed to knock off from a frenetic winter and to travel into a place a bit unconventional. As soon as Sophie proposed Corsica as destination the enthusiasm was high and we start to plan. The peculiarity of the island, its shape outlined by mountains above 3.000 m not so far from the beaches, and the lack of info about enduro bikes haven't allowed us to have an idea of what to expect from our incoming trip.

Under the pine trees

It's the salty smell that wakes us up in the ferries corridor. From the open deck door gets in the rough sea breeze while some passengers inquire our camp for the night. We drive in the direction of Zonza, a little village settled at the Aiguilles de Bavella's base. Impressive trees, clear rivers, sharp peaks, awesome rock walls and simple rocks homes entertain us on the way. First stop is a boulangerie, at the end of the trip we'll be pain au chocolat, quiches and others typical deliciousness expert, like Ambrucciata, a sweet with a local cheese named Brocciu. Bavella's forest is full of pine with an inebriating fragrance, different than usual, more of ground than of wood. Here we found the only Bikepark of the island, with some funny trails, tiny and challenging but also flow with berm and wood features.

Sophie Riva ride under fabulous tree in Bavella Bikepark

A plateau full of treasures

We explore the Plateau du Cusciunu, a limitless plateau where little rivers flow calm, horses and cows graze in freedom and rounded stones smoothened by the time rest. Here we found a wider view of the surrounding mountains, in addition to that there we also understand how much wild is the area and how much the hiking trails could be bike enemy. Luckily, after 8 hours riding, with just 1/4 section of good trail, Pierrot, a bergerie owner, receives us without invitation. In that timeless room, blurred by chimney smoke, the shepherd and his wife share their dinner with us. Satisfied, feeling a bit awkward and with the smokey smell on our clothes we say good evening to them. Our hearts are warmer thanks their quiet kindness.

Mr Casanova

We Casually heard about a guy who does some shuttle in Ajaccio. His name is Olivier Casanova and in a rainy day we choose to meet him. He set the rendezvous in the city center obviously as a good mountain people we get lost few times previous to found his pickup. On board we meet him and his friend Alexandre, who'll drive up us all the afternoon. We don't know much about the plan, he consider us as friends and he's happy to show us their trails. At the top we meet Benjamin and Roco, a nice border collie that apparently loves trails as much as us. We spend the afternoon together, joking and riding fabulous trail full of wild flowers with an inebriating fragrance. The tracks maintained by Olivier descend on two different hill face, in one side we rode on a soft and dark ground in a thick forest, with steep section and tight switchback, whereas on the opposite face the trails go down directly into the city and by the sea, the ground is almost sand, with rolling stones and bumpy section. No time for pictures here, just for riding and having fun.

From left: Sophie, Olivier and Pierre. Photo taken by Benjamin, the only one taken that afternoon. Olivier doesn't own a shuttle company but he does it for pleasure for his friends, in his everyday life he is a plumber. After the afternoon spent with us he opened this IG page @imperial_shuttle_ajaccio, who knows... maybe we gave him the idea to open a new business. If you are around Ajaccio, contact him, the trails are really worth.

Let your mind free

We move to Île Rousse, without thinking to much about we download a gpx track from Strava, we don't ask ourself if it would be the best tour and we choose to follow it. We start from the beach, after few kilometers we move away from the coast going into fields and olive groves, across short descents, technical uphill and little drystone walls. We meet a farm production that made lemon juice and we decide to take a break, they serve us two glass of hearty and fleshy juice. With some lemon taste in our mouth we start again along wild trails, with big and adverse rocks, some flow section and steep uphill. We love to have no plan, to simply follow a gpx track, to know that someone has already ridden the tour, let ourself go without thoughts neither expectations.

We spend the last day in Bastia. We trust the advice that we get and we explore the hill over the city. Even if we have any expectations, landscapes and trails surprise us. After the first lap we are so enthusiast that we pedal up again to ride a trail for the second time.
Finished the tour we go directly in a boulangerie to buy the last deliciousness and we headed to the seaport ready to embark.
We fall asleep on the desk, cuddle by the sun and at the awakening the coast is now far.

Ten days for exploring, discovering places, tastes and fragrances for the first time. Be guided by a gpx tracks or by the flower aroma, to get off from the feeling that we need to have everything under control. Meet local person, and trust their advices, to follow one’s intuition and the curiosity. To notice the butter aroma coming from the croissant just taken from the oven, the authentic fruits inside the homemade jam, the people kindness. We are not sure if the enduro bike is the best way to discover Corsica, but for sure we are happy and we are impressed by all the adventures and misadventures that we found in this trip and probably al lot of it will not happen if we weren't on our Ancillotti Scarab.


  • 2 0
 Thanks for the nice review! Last summer we spent two fantastic weeks in the south of this wonderful island. We didn't have our bikes with us, but on our hikes in the Bavella massif we constantly checked the trails for their suitability for riding. Mountain biker sickness;-) We'll contact Olivier next time!
  • 2 0
 Me and a mate sold all our possessions and buggered off to corsica on our heavily laden hardtails about 20 years ago. Spent about 2 months there riding about and roughing it.. some seriously epic scenery. Locals were a bit insular but we’d come to ride so all was cool. Been itching to do it all again for the last 2 decades!
  • 2 0
 Writing this from Norway, currently -5 degrees. These beautiful photos and Sophie's descriptive writing convinced me to start planning an escape to the Mediterranean soon! Also, those Ancillotti, ...bella!
  • 1 0
 awesome trip and nothing beats italian food to top it off at the end of the day. I just moved to Europe from East Asia and discovered the massive restriction of no winter rides. I'll add corsica/sicily to my plans for riding.
  • 1 0
 Been there last september. There's few MTB culture. Visited some local bike shops and they were not keen to share info or suggest local trails or people to hire. On the other hand to really enjoy, I would recommend a transfer service to and from if it's available... Also train or bus usually don't allow bikes... So it was quite tricky to do something. Anyway the island is beautiful and some potential... but if you don't have friends there i would recommend other destination
  • 2 1
 Probably my favourite island in the Mediterranean. I'm not sure you can get a better combination of scenery and food, but I've never ridden a bike there. It's immediately on the bucket list, great article.
  • 2 0
 Great content, fantastic photos and lovely words! Plus Sophie, the most beautiful rider in Italy! The world needs more articles like this!!
  • 4 0
 Above 3000m? Corsica rose during the night?
  • 2 0
 Haha, glad someone else spotted this. Surely it's 3000 meters claimed by a local.
  • 1 0
 2706 Monte Cinto is the highest peak.
  • 3 0
 I feel so sorry for that, it’s an horrible slip. This is a good lesson to double check data and not write just by memory. In any case I hope you’ve like our story.
  • 1 0
 @Pierrelucianaz: yes I did, and I love Corsica too!
  • 3 0
 Corsica is awesome. Spent 3 weeks there some years ago riding climbing and hiking. Must go back!
  • 1 0
 Corse is awesome and wild. A place to explore, but you should be happy with some try and error rides ...because the macchia can get wild
  • 2 1
 Elba's were it's at,a little island between corsica and the mainland, there's a couple of shuttle companys good trails and even better people
  • 3 0
 Was there this summerbut ha problems finding nice trails for biking.
  • 2 0
 I wish I had the freedom to do stuff like that.
  • 1 0
 I envy these people who can sit down indoors after a ride. I’d smell more than the cheese
  • 1 0
 Wonderful photos and descriptions, this article is good for the soul. And the food looks fantastic.
  • 1 0
 Tell me please, are those Ancillotti bikes somehow available for mortals? The website looks quite abandoned
  • 2 0
 Hey, Ancillotti is a real small handcraft product in Italy. Try to write directly to him from the site or looks also "Nini Adventure" a French shop.
  • 1 0
 Corsica is a great place to explore

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2023. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.026053
Mobile Version of Website