Thursday, June 22, 2017

Monte Crostis

The climb from Comeglians to the Panoramica delle Vette is a classic of Carnia.  Miles of switchbacks through steep fir-covered slopes, followed by wide-open alpine scenery.   Fedaia handled the climb well, and then deftly switched to gravel bike on the rolling Panoramica delle Vette.  No complaints at all.

Next I arrived at the descent to Ravascletto, steep  and well-paved since the Giro d'Italia preparations of 2011.  Unfortunately there've been some landslides over the winter and the road was blocked for repair.  Some motorcyclists had been turned back but I lifted my bike over the barriers and then used the wooden guardrails to move my body over to the other side.  The workers were rappeling on the steep slope to secure chainlink landslide prevention in place.  Hard to imagine how hot that would be even up  in the mountains with the sun beating down.

Eventually the road reaches Ravascletto and the beautiful main highway.  Some great curves to plummet down on this road.

Try this loop if you get a chance.  It's a great experience.

Rhododedron-covered slopes above top of climb 

Gorgeous mountain meadows

Monte Crostis hiking trail

The valley where I started in Comeglians

Wild rhododendron close-up

Monte Coglians again half-hidden behind smaller peaks

Big peaks to the west in Veneto

Looking down at the descent road to Ravascletto

The tough climb from Comeglians

Follow the zig-zags clockwise

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


This is a wonderful climb up fir-covered slopes, reaching the lower edge of altopiano at 1500 meters then continuing up  miles of sunny grassland to 1900 meters+.  Previously I climbed this on my old Merckx, continuing on the gravel road to an Italian communications post.  Then a couple years later I mountain biked all the way up.  Today climbing with the Legend Fedaia on 28mm tires worked fine but descending was quite tedious.  Once I descended to the paved lower section everything was fine.  Must try this ride if you're in the area.

Monte Coglians hiding behind Monte Tenchia

Monte Zoncolan ski area on left

Lago di Zoufplan;
blue sky reflection if you're at the correct angle

On the right the valley from Tolmezzo to Timau

Toward Timau and Austria; antenna on lower right
was the highest I reached on road bike back in 2011 

Wild rhododendron blooming along the gravel road

The circuitous gravel road down to the shady paved lower section

Blue line shows the switchbacking climb

15 km of 8%, the last 6 km on gravel

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Zoncolan via Priola (almost)

The usual paved routes up Monte Zoncolan are from Sutrio and Ovaro.  Today I'm trying the less-used route from Priola.  I tried to find it last year and missed the turn, plus I later read the road was closed for repairs.  But luckily this time I found the road, and the repair work being done was no problem for a bike to circumvent.

This road is definitely steeper than the beautifully switch-backed highway from Sutrio.  I'm not sure it's comparable to the Ovaro-Zoncolan classic but it's pretty darn steep.  In fact my original intention was to reach the top, but by the time I reached the road coming up from the ski resort I was done.  I stopped to pant and guzzle Gatorade at Rifugio Cocul, then turned around and rode down the same way.  This time I could stop and enjoy all the wild gorgeous scenery up here.  I met only four mountain bikers climbing as I descended, looking stunned to see a road bike up here.

This is definitely a ride I want to repeat next year; maybe I'll be able to reach the top by then.

A rare opening in the dense fir-covered slopes
revealing mountains to the east

Just above Priola, meadows with goats, asini, and tame deer

Another view of mountains surrounding Priola 

Steep, with no flat spots

Close up of the climb (purple line)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fanna Off-Roading

Needed to checkout the synchro-shifting capability Shimano has finally trickled down to road bikes and even Ultegra.  So I did a nice local ride to Cavasso Nuovo and Fanna.  Ended up hiking on some steep brushy slopes trying to reach Valdestali church above Frisanco.  No luck but it was fun.

As for the synchro-shift it works but I need to adjust the downshift-point for the large chainring: right now it's one cog below the 32-tooth cog.  I don't want to cross-chain it.   The instructions aren't penetrating my braincase.

The trail above Fanna before it  gets rough

Map showing the church

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Monte Grappa from Semonzo

My Ediciclo guide says this route up Monte Grappa "è in assoluto una delle salite più difficili e belle delle Prealpi...."   I had my doubts:  how could this route, with cars full of sightseeing tourists, compare to the walls of death on Strada degli Alpini or Salto della Capra?  So I blithely pedaled up the 8% past the "28 tornanti to go" sign.  It was only later, when the predictability ended  and the road transformed into a shape-shifting wolf in sheep's clothing that I saw his point.  Though I never had to stop and rest, I was wrung out by the time I reached the summit: nothing in reserve. Più difficili sounded about right. 

The ride down was glorious, with stops to enjoy the landscape.  My guidebook was right about the beauty of the ride as well.

The enormous ossario on the summit

Beautiful alpine pastureland

Trees in the meadows

Natural hanging gardens on the cliffs
Close up view (campanelle?)

More all along the road

Fedaia resting from her climb

18 km of 8%.  Hard.

The magenta line is the climb

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Another steep gravel road attempt with the road bike.  Cadolten is an order of magnitude more difficult than Monte Jouf. I warmed up from Stevena, down through Sarmede and up to the panoramica connecting Montaner with Osigo.  From here climb briefly on the main Vittorio Veneto-Cansiglio road, then turn left on Via Praviner.  Soon pavement ends and you begin alternating steep concrete sections with gravel;  after the first alteration I was toast.  I'm not sure if it was the gearing or the difficulty gaining traction with 28mm slicks, but between the two I was struggling most of the climb.  I would estimate I walked about a quarter of the climb off and on.  But it was still wonderful: cool shady fir trees, silence except for birdsong, delirium from exertion.  A great climb!     

After Cadolten, a gorgeous altopiano with meadows surrounded by tall firs, I descended to La Crosetta and the deserted descent on Strada del Patriarca to Villa di Villa.  Very tired when I got home.  


View toward Vittorio Veneto

Cadolten fir-lined lane

Close up of climb, clockwise

Tough climb

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Monte Jouf

First time biking up Monte Jouf from the Maniago side (I've MTB'ed it from Pala Barzana before).  This time I used the Fedaia Legend road bike, which proved its versatility again, charging up this unpaved Haute Category climb like a mountain goat.

Beautiful scenery up here.  I need to come back and hike around it one day.
Wonderful local ride.

Wildflowers at the summit

Rolling altopiano at the top.

Monte Raut

To the east

Thursday, June 8, 2017


There are two routes to Nevegal: the moderate one from Ponte negli Alpi and the steep one from Belluno.  Today I climbed the steep one.  It's easy until Castion, then goes nuts.  Long switchbacks give you no chance to rest, it just goes on and on.  On the plus side, in the cool morning shade there was no sweltering sun like you endure on the Ponte negli Alpi route.

At Nevegal I continued on up to Faveghera at 1430 meters. Slightly less steep but the cumulative exhaustion made it feel just as difficult.  The fast descent was wonderful, and then I took the shortcut via Cornolade.  A classic.
Almost haze-free seeing this morning

The climb from Castions to Faveghera

The Belluno Nevegal climb as featured in the
2011 Giro d'Italia Cronoscalata