Monday, January 26, 2015

Val di Torrente Leale MTB

I drove to Alesso near Lago di Cavazzo and took off on my MTB.  The ride begins on the road to Val di Torrente Palar, which I explored last October.  Today after the steep initial climb to 520 meters I turned left onto a gravel road.  Great fun riding through the wilderness, level at first, then with many switchbacks.  Eventually I reached the first sign of civilization, Malga Amula at 750 meters.  No one there today but on weekends and in summer it's likely occupied.  

The road begins to saliscendi for a few km, dipping down to ford streams one after another until eventually I reached a much larger stream, Torrente Leale.  I forded it once, then again, and I think 2 or 3 more times before beginning to climb upward again near Malga Cuvii.  More switchbacks now ascending to 830 meters.  At a junction I could have turned right toward Malga Cuar but I was already fried.  I'll try that next time.  Today instead I continued mostly level, then descending to meet the paved road from Avasinis to Cuel di Forchia.  The paved road was fast and steep, and soon I was back at the car.  I will try next time from Cjanet or Monte Prat and try to reach the malgas up near the dorsal ridge connecting Monte Cuar and Monte Flagjel.

Stavoli di Forchia di Amula 

Malga Amula

The first ford across Torrente Leale

Monte Amariana 1905 meters

Monte Piombada 1744 meters

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Socher - Soverzene Pista Ciclabile

There's a missing link in the bikeway from Vittorio Veneto to Cortina and Auronzo.  The main road between Ponte negli Alpi and Longarone is too full of trucks and tourists' campers for bikers to safely cross the narrow bridges.  Luckily a fix is in work.  From Socher to Soverzene they're building a bikeway along the Enel electric company aqueduct.  The article I read wasn't too clear about the present state of progress, so I rode over to check it out.  

I rode down to Vittorio Veneto and over Passo di Fadalto to Lago di Santa Croce.  After getting lost at Socher (and running across some caves and an old castle ruin) I found the paved bikeway.  At the edge of town it turns to hard-packed white strada bianca, perfect for 23mm slick tires.  Before long I could see the centralina (electric distribution plant) on the bridge across the Piave River about 200-300 meters ahead.  But the bikeway ends suddenly, with construction of a causeway visible ahead.  Fortunately there's a horse trail/footpath leading to Soverzene, which is quite muddy but would be no problem for a MTB.  It also has a short tunnel, which is less than 2 meters tall, so I have no idea how horses get through.  At the end you return to pavement, and a rolling ride to Longarone.

From Longarone I climbed up to Vajont dam and  Passo di Sant'Osvaldo.  From there almost all downhill, all the way home

Mountain reflection on Lago di Santa Croce

Public fountain at Socher

Grotto Mole near Castello di San Giorgio ruin

Strada bianca bikeway by aqueduct at Socher

They are building this causeway on the Piave to complete
the final few hundred meters of the pista ciclabile

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Castello di Conegliano

Cloudy and rain-threatening until 9AM when it suddenly cleared.  I rode down through Cordignano and Godega di Sant' Urbano to Conegliano.  Here I promptly flatted: now I finally have a butyl tube on the rear.  After a brief disoriented diversion to San Vendemiano I got back on track and found the turn for the castello.  It's not too steep and has beautiful views of prosecco vineyards, foothills and Dolomiti Bellunese.  

The castle grounds are lovely and would make a nice Sunday afternoon visit.  But I had a 2 hour ride home and needed to get going.  I tried a different route from Godega di Sant'Urbano, continuing on SS13 past Sacile and then to Vigonovo.  This route is about the same length but less hilly if your legs are tired.  Avoid it on weekdays though: way too many trucks.

Next time I'll leave earlier and spend some in the prosecco vineyards of San Pietro di Feletto and the castle at Susegana.

Castello from north

Castello courtyard with church and villa

The giardino behind the castello 

A view of the giardino from the north

Close up of tower

The wall around the giardino (from the south)

The walled entryway 

Close up of Gate Tower

Lovely villa in the prosecco vineyards

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fortezza di Osoppo

Overcast with scattered showers today, but I've been getting cabin fever and had to ride.  After warming up to Pinzano I pedaled up Strada di Bottecchia past Peonis.  Turned right at the little suspension bridge to bypass Trasaghis, then crossed the long bridge over the Tagliamento.  Immediately after the bridge I turned right again toward Osoppo.  Here the flat river plain is interrupted by a 300-meter-high morainic hill with World War I fortress on top.  It's been fixed up nicely for visitors, with handrails so no one plunges from the parapets.  The panoramas would be magnificent on a clear day, but today all was whiteout.  Just before descending I noticed the rear tire went flat again.  I'm switching from latex tubes back to butyl.

Rode home via the Tagliamento bridge at Cornino.  After a little more rain and a couple hours of pedaling I was home, wet, cold, tired, but happy.  

Hiker/biker bridge north of Peonis

Swift clear water of canal 

Lovers' locks on the bridge

Artillery emplacements at fortress 

Large artillery emplacement higher up on fortress

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


What a glorious day- cold but clear and calm.  I rode through Fregona to Sonego, then up the steep hillside to Ciser.  From there the road traverses some woods to a wide open  meadowy area, spectacular on this crystal clear day.  From the high point, a dairy at 560 meters, the Adriatico was shimmering to the south.  I continued descending to Piadera, then an asino farm and acres of prosecco vines.  As you would expect, the deadly-steep climb up from Vittorio Veneto is much easier when descending, though watch your speed on the rough, broken concrete road.  The perfect weather lasted all the way home, making the climbs feel almost effortless.   

Grassy meadows above Piadera

Left, old stone quarry; right, the woods toward Ciser

Right background, the hillside you traverse MTB'ing to Casa Cadolten

The dairy at 560 meters

Osservatorio astronomico; should be very starry tonight 

Asini at Piadera

Baby asino on left seems quite sleepy in the warm sunshine

Sunday, January 4, 2015

San Foca

My influenza is finally gone so time to ride.  I bundled up Siberian-style but it was sunny and 17℃ so before long I stripped off the extra layers.   In 2008-2009 I was riding this San Leonardo- San Foca loop probably once or twice per week, trying to regain my strength.  It starts slightly downslope for an easy warm up to San Foca.  Then you turn north again and begin riding gently upslope.  Today for added resistance the bora was blowing in my face, but not too hard even for two-weeks-rusty legs.  Great ride and nice views of the mountains.  

Jof di Montasio, Kanin, Matajur along the Slovenian border

Friday, December 19, 2014

Stavoli Sopracengla

Monte Prat is a fun area to explore not too far east of here above the Tagliamento River.  I rode from home to Forgaria and then began the climb.  Not a killer but still challenging.  A bunch of University of Udine geology students were hammering on rock cliffs along the road.  Around 750 meters my rear tire went flat and I changed it quickly to avoid getting cold.  

Soon I reached the altopiano and pedaled easily, resting from the climb.  At the old hotel turn right through the forest.  Before long you reach an intersection with Via Agar, which heads northwest to Cjanet and Peonis.  To the north is the road for Monte Pedroc (900 meters).  But the road I was looking for was Via Ledrania, to the south.  Almost immediately it began plunging down the escarpment toward Lago Cornino.  After a few small groups of restored stone houses I reached end of pavement at 530 meters, below Stavoli Sopracengla.  From here a hiking trail descends to Lago Cornino.  I'll hike it someday.

I turned and headed back up the escarpment at a snail's pace: it's 2 km averaging 13% with ramps over 18%.   I made it but I was toast.  The decent was fun but the long ride home was tough.   After a month or so of rain it's time to start rebuilding my fitness.   

Via Agar toward Cjanet and Peonis

Road climbing to Pedroc and Cima Pala

Via Ledrania heading down the escarpment

Restored rustico near end of pavement

Tagliamento to south; grifoni were circling almost at eye-level

Tagliamento to east

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Deferred Maintenance

Last year I noticed the Viner's left downtube cablestop adjuster was frozen solid with corrosion.  I just used the rear derailleur screw instead and forgot about it.  Then a few months later I tried loosening it with penetrating oil, whacking it, and finally applying some torque, but the adjuster screw broke in two.   The cable had an odd angle but it seemed to shift ok so I kept using it despite being broken.

Then last month the rainy season arrived and I decided to finally fix it.  The aluminum screw remnant wouldn't move so I drilled it out and installed some nice Jag-wire steel adjusters.  The shifter cables were trashed so I replaced all the cables and housing, then rewrapped the bars with Cinelli cork ribbon.  I even scrubbed the frame (I think that may have been the first time I've done more than hose the mud off). Simple stuff but now it feels like a new bike.  If it doesn't rain tomorrow I'll give it a proper test ride.

Edit: went for a spin to Malnisio and San Martino- shifts smoothly as new.  About the only difference I feel with the new setup is the brake cable housing on the back of the bars instead of front.   This routing made it easier to get rid of the crossed-derailleur cables under the down tube.  Never did care for those- looks much cleaner with cables parallel.

This is the side I drilled.  Luckily I didn't drill out the threads.

Close up of Jag-wire adjuster

New Cinelli cork ribbon

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Casera Valfredda MTB

Beautiful cold clear weather has finally arrived.   I MTB'ed from Costa up through Rifugio Bornass to Castaldia, took the back road toward Col Alto till Candaglia and then turned onto the gravel road.  A little snow and ice but not bad.  I intended to continue to Forcella di Giais or Ronciade but ran out of time at Casera Valfredda (1385 meters).  I'll have to return and finish the loop later.  Many good trails in this area.

Monte Cavallo from Casera Valfredda

Panning out to show the area

Skirting around the left side of this hill (1500 meters high with
microwave relay towers)  you arrive near Forcella di Giais

Pretty little conch valley below Casera Valfredda

View east of Julian Alps near Slovenia

Friday, November 28, 2014

Monte Costa di Paladin MTB

Another turnoff I've passed many times but never ridden.  I warmed up climbing from Tramonti di Sopra to Passo di Monte Rest (7.5 km averaging 7.5%).  At the turnoff onto the gravel road, a young fellow was using a crane to stack logs on his truck.  He asked if I was doing a giro (loop) and tried to help by warning that the road was blocked ahead, but I said I'd just turn around when I reached the barricade.  The road quickly gets steep switchbacking and then climbing along the ridgeside to 1415 meters (4.6 km averaging 8.9%).  I carried my bike over an obstacle as the man had mentioned, a small avalanche across the road.  Other than that the only delay a was fallen tree whose big limbs had to be crossed carrying the bike, but no problem.  Maybe further along something bigger like a landslide was blocking the way?

Anyway above 1400 meters the slight drizzle got a little harder and the road confusingly began descending with switchbacks.  I needed to look at the map but wasn't going to get it soaking wet, plus my turnaround deadline was nigh (Marilyn needed a ride to the store), so I turned back.  I'll try this again next Spring.  Pictures I've seen of the view from Monte Costa di Paladin (1700 meters) are pretty dazzling.  

Turn left on this road after crossing Passo di Monte Rest

Casera Feletta

Fiume Tagliamento; in background Monte Bivera (2474 meters) 

The avalanche