Monday, September 22, 2014

Mrzla Rupa MTB

I had a big giro planned, from Dolena Trebusa to Oblakov Vhr, down the highway to Idrija, up the steep climb to Vojsko, and down through Gorenja Trebusa back to Dolena Trebusa.  Then Sunday the weather forecast changed, with storms in Trebusa until 1000 Monday.  I decided not to drive down super early if it was going to be raining.  Then on the drive down there were roadwork delays on Slovenian highway 102 all along the way.  I reached Dolena Trebusa and started riding at 1000.

The  rain had stopped and the skies were brightening, so I decided to ride up to Gorenja Trebusa.  Beautiful scenery through here, with waterfalls all along both sides of the gorge. I couldn't get a good picture of them though; you'd need climbing ropes to get close enough for a good photo.  At the meadowy area around Gorenja I decided to climb up to Mrzla Rupa, as I had last year in Trebusa .  The road is steep but paved at first, then hard-packed dirt and finally a looser surface.  Excellent workout.  At the junction with the road to Vojsko (899 meters) I turned around and headed back down.  The descent was fun and I made it back to the car by 1230.  Made it home in 2.5 hours, half an hour quicker than this morning's drive  Will return later for the climb from Idrija, possibly via Gorizia and Lokve.      

Near Dolena Trebusa: the right fork takes you to
Preval Drnulk (760 meters)

Looking north from Gorenja; the left takes you
up to Preval Drnulk

Gorenja pastures along the Trebuscica

More Gorenja pastures looking west 

Gorenja from a distance

Close-up of church

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mulattiera Valle Bornass MTB

Today's one of those days when it looks like it could start pouring rain any second.  I decided to stay close to home so I could hastily retreat if the clouds burst.  I rode down Via Pedemontana to Pedemonte and turned right on the road toward Piancavallo.  At 300 meters elevation turn right onto the dirt road.  It soon begins climbing fairly roughly and steeply, so you get the fun of constantly switching to the best track, with instant feedback if you make a mistake.  

At 420 meters there's a junction so I stopped.  I mistakenly chose the Percorso Circolare Santuario to the left, which is a nice hiking/running trail but steep and muddy, so my rear knobby was spinning (even when seated) and tearing up the trail.  So I retraced my path and resumed the gravel road to the right.  It got very steep at times so I had to walk a few meters but not bad.   Eventually I arrived at a restored casetta (570 meters) and then joined the paved road from Rifugio Bornass toward Costa.  There are MTB trails descending here but after walking a few meters down to preview them, I knew they were beyond my skill level: steep, muddy with half-exposed small boulders to weave through.   Maybe I'll try going up that way first to get some practice.    

This is a good ride and very convenient to home.  I'll have to do some variations soon.

Junction with Percorso Circolare Santuario running tail:
stay on the gravel road to the right on your MTB 

Casetta near the junction with Rifugio Bornass road

Rifugio Bornass road

Beautiful trail map made by the volunteers of MTB Ornedo Club

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Planina Razor MTB

Tolmin, Slovenia is starting point for 3 big climbs in Triglav National Park: Cadrg, Tolminske Ravne, and Planina Razor.  The last of these I climbed with my road bike a couple years ago, but couldn't complete the final 6.5 km with skinny tires.  Today the weather's beautiful, so it's time to try it with a MTB. 

I parked at Tolmin and rode briefly to Poljubinj (225 meters). The paved road up to Planina Stador (1040 meters) is a good workout with glorious views of the Soca River and lush green countryside.  After some climbing on dirt alternating with concrete  pavement, the road begins rolling along the contours of the  mountainside without gaining additional altitude.  At Planina Lom, a dairy where you can buy a meal, the road begins ascending in an area with open grassland.  This continues until Planina Razor (1310 meters), on steep grassy slopes ascending to rocky peaks.

I had read about a MTB trail descending to Tolminske Ravne, a pastural area visible far below.  The trail is marked Mulattiera (mule trail) and was beyond my MTB skills at first.  I was prudent and walked down the steepest, rockiest parts, and coasted with one foot unclipped on the iffy bits.   The rideable stretches eventually arrived more frequently and after awhile I was able to ride safely.  It later levels out, turning into a lovely forest trail.  Finally I reached the open grassland at Tolminske Ravne, and soon was descending the paved road along the gorge of the Zadlascica, then a brief climb up the other side of the gorge and an easy coast to Tolmin.  Fun!    

The view east from Planina Lom

The grassland zone between Planina Lom and Planina Razor

Far below to the west, Tolminske Ravne
in a grassy niche in the mountainside 

The gorge of Torrente Zadlascica, Kozlov Rob (hill where
 Grad Tolmin perches), and mountains to southwest

Planina Razor, with clouds hiding the mountain above

A fontana along the Mulatteria to Tolminske Ravne

I was so glad to arrive at Tolminske Ravne.  I survived!

Veliki Stador 

Tolminski Kuk, left

Vogel to the east

Look closely and you can see the dairy at Planina Razor

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Passo della Forcella MTB

Steeper than Zoncolan?

I first heard of this climb a few weeks ago.  Apparently it had been recently paved and improved, so my first thought was to try riding the road bike up it.  Then I saw the altimetria and knew I would need MTB gearing for the attempt.

Today the rain finally stopped so I had give it a try.  I parked at Villa Santina (325 meters) and crossed Torrente Degano to Raveo. This west side of the river is less trafficked, more scenic and hillier.  I continued north through Cella to Luint, where the route turns south again for Mione.  It's a tough climb just to reach the village of Mione at 730 meters, then you find the fountain with the rooster and the real climbing begins,

The road is a narrow lane immersed in red fir forest.  It's smooth fresh asphalt, with well-designed drainage channels to prevent wheel damage.  It really is one of the best roads I've climbed around here, surprising given its remoteness.  I continued twisting up the hill without respite until about 1200 meters when I stopped to pant.   I restarted and made it up another steep stretch, to 1400 meters where I stopped again.  I decided to push the bike awhile but that was not much easier.  I started riding again and gave it all I had to about 1600 meters and then I was done for.  After a break I slowly pushed the bike up the even-steeper concrete section.  A guy herding cows teased and ask why I wasn't pedaling.  He likely walks up and down this road every day, pushing cows uphill when they want to stop for a nap.

The pass at 1800 meters is grassland with great views in every direction.  I took some pictures, caught my breath, and put on my cold descent gear.  Luckily I had bled the brakes the other day because this was one long brake-torture test.  They held up though.  At the bottom I crossed Torrente Degano to Ovaro and rode the busier east bank highway back down to Villa Santina.  Luckily all downhill so my legs survived.

Try this climb if you get a chance- you won't be disappointed.  

Pieve di Gorto near Cella

The iron rooster atop Mione's fountain

View from pass of mountains to the west
Close up view to west

View to north (below pass)

Close up to north of Monte Crostis (right)

Zoncolan ski area to the east

To southeast Torrente Degano and Tagliamento

Very old iron cross at pass, grape and wheat designs 

Read this just before descending

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cason di Lanza

Passo Cason di Lanza is a killer up near the Austrian border.  I haven't ascended it from the east (Pontebba) since 2010, so I'm long overdue.  After driving to Amaro (between Tolmezzo and Moggio)  I warmed up on nearly deserted SS13 to Moggio.  Here turn north and follow Val Aupa  to Selle di Cereschiatis: 12 gradual kilometers along Torrente Aupa then up through the forest for 6km averaging 7%.  It's a good workout, followed by a fast descent to Pontebba.

Here starts the Cason di Lanza climb.  This too follows a torrent gradually up the valley, then suddenly steepens for 10 km averaging 10% gradient, with several 18%-19% ramps. I used the 30-tooth cog on these.   At the passo there's a nice flat spot to catch your breath, then you plummet down the other side.  They've covered the numerous drainage channels with tightly-knit grates to prevent tire/wheel destruction.  But there is slippery logging waste on the road so watch your speed- I slipped on this stuff in a corner and skinned my knee.  

After a long descent you arrive in Paularo, then down the road to Arte Terme.  After Tolmezzo I took an interesting detour through Cavasso Carnico to avoid the very fast and busy SS52.  Finally reached the car at Amaro and drove home bone-tired.    

Monticello (1362m), Val Aupa

Passo Cason di Lanza alpine pond, Monte Zermula (2143m)

Cascate after Cason di Lanza

Near Austrian border after  Cason di Lanza

Torrente Chiarzo

Friday, September 5, 2014

Monte Cuarnan MTB

Monte Cuarnan is an interesting climb above Gemona.  For one thing it starts in the city on the   mountain's lower slopes.  This adds to the fun of finding the start of climb, especially on market day.  On the other hand, the paved road ends in the middle of nowhere.  You must hike or use a MTB to reach any of the local sights.  Luckily today I finally had a chance to MTB it.

After 10 km or so of warming up/being lost I got onto Via Cappuccini which leads to Via Foredor where the climb proper begins.  On a MTB it's easy but on a road bike the gradient will give you a good workout.  After 40 switchbacks (a record for Friulian paved climbs) it ends in a gravel spot at 933 meters.  Now a few more switchbacks on gravel and you reach Malga Foredor, a rustic eatery.  I looked around for a trail here- no luck, so I headed briefly downhill to the steep dirt/gravel road toward Ors di Cuarnan.  At first it is paved with river rocks pounded into the dirt which I was able to ride, but then it turns to very steep gravel with large concrete drainage channels.  I hopped off and walked a couple hundred meters then resumed riding.  Steep but doable all the way up to end of the road at 1145 meters.  

Here the forest disappeared; instead pastures with cows (wearing bells) covered the cloudy hill tops.  There is a very steep drop off to the south, which a windsock told me is used for launching hang gliders.  I walked along the cliff edge trail and considered trying to hike to Il Redentore church on the shoulder of Monte Cuarnan.   But I decided to try again on a clearer day, as the attraction there is the sea of peaks surrounding you.

So I rode back down.  I turned off of Via Foredor at Via Baldo, a steep alternative when descending.  Before getting into Gemona my rear brake pads wore down and I could hear them scraping the disk, so I used only the front brake on the final steep kilometers.  That was fun.  Will try again when sunny (possibly on snow shoes to the top this winter). 

Take Via Cappuccini, the right fork

From Ors di Cuarnan:  Fiume Tagliamento and pianura

Southward Monte Faeit and Monte Campeon 

Eastward Monte Duon

Monte Cuarnan 1372 meters, Il Redentore church

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Forcella Tamer

The weather forecast called for rain starting at noon, so I decided to do a local ride with some climbs before the downfall began.  After Maniago, just before Fanna I turned left on the road up Monte San Lorenzo.  I recommend only climbing this on Sunday or holiday because on weekdays it has giant dump trucks loaded with rock quarried at Monte San Lorenzo headed for the cementificio of Fanna.  The road has some damage from heavy rains undermining the roadbed, causing a large slump.  It's a great little workout, 2.6km averaging 8%.

Steeply down the other side to Valcolvera, and just before Poffabro turn right down Val Muie.  Fun rolling road descending after Navarons to Fiume Meduna, then steeply up to the main road for Monte Rest.  Turn left, skirt the shore of Lago di Redona until you reach the right turn toward Campone, then climb gently up the gorge of Torrente Chiarzo.  This wonderful road eventually reaches a sharp dogleg right turn up the mountainside.  I dreaded climbing this because previously the steep pavement was mostly torn up, with wet, algae-covered slippery stones: hard to climb without standing, yet nearly impossible to get traction with an unweighted rear wheel.  Luckily after a couple hundred meters it was newly paved (I guess 1 or 2 years ago).  The surface was great and the gradient was climbable seated, in 34 X 27 gear.  The road is barricaded and marked closed because of a landslide, but they've cleared the rubble from the road and are now shoring up the adjacent slope: on a bike it's no problem.   From the start of this climb to Forcella Tamer you climb 5.5 km, averaging 9.6% gradient. 

At 900m there is a cattle gate, a short stretch of paved road, and then rocky MTB riding to 1000m where the parapendi launch at Monte Valinis.  I decided to turn around at the gate so I could beat the rain.  I descended the way I'd come all the way down to the Campone road at 432m.  

After passing through Campone I began the climb up to Piani di Clauzetto at 673m.  Descending to Pradis di Sotto at 537m I noticed an unusual number of hikers, runners.  Turned out they were having a marcia, similar to Volksmarch in Germany.  I threaded through the walkers and headed up the last climb of the day through Pradis di Sopra to Cristo at 717m.  After Clauzetto I switchbacked to Travesio, then to Toppo, across Fiume Meduna, through Fanna to Maniago and home.  The predicted rain was nowhere to be seen; in fact it was now sunny and warm.  Meno male, it motivated me to ride fast and I enjoyed the rolling ride.     

Monte Raut from Monte San Lorenzo;
I'll try to hike there from Panuch in September

The rehabilitated former quarry on Monte San Lorenzo's
northeast side; the south side is still being quarried.  Beautiful
west side is still natural, with Chiesa di San Lorenzo high
 above the cliffs along Bus di Colvera

Shoring up the landslide on Campone - Forcella
Tamer road.  Note the new pavement.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Monte San Simeone

Monte San Simeone is an annual pilgrimage for me.  Today the weather was temperate and clear, and the grifoni of Cornino wildlife reserve were making the most of it.  Don't think I've ever seen so many of them at once before.  After watching this spectacle awhile I continued up past Lago di Cavazzo to start of climb.  The climb was perfect: not too hot and the road surface wasn't as bad as I'd remembered.  After the top (1187 meters) I rolled down into some pretty green meadows with the tree-covered summit of Monte San Simeone above in the distance.  The paved road ended so I retraced a bit, then hiked up to Chiesa di San Simeone and a clearing atop the hill with a nice view. 

I descended until 375 meters, where I reached the junction for Monte Festa and turned off to check it out.  Pavement ends after 1.5km but a gravel road continues to the fortress.  I will try to mountain bike that in September or October.

Got a bit fatigued on the way home but never bonked, thanks to the unseasonable 20℃ with a light breeze on an August afternoon.

Beautiful turquoise water of Lago di Cornino

Just a few of dozens of grifoni riding the thermals
along Tagliamento's cliffs   

In clearing above chiesa looking west

San Simeone summit- must hike (maybe MTB?)

The chiesa with mountains to northeast

Monte Palantarins towers above Fiume Tagliamento (left)
and Torrente Pakar (right); another MTB ride

Southern end of Lago di Cavazzo and mountains to southwest

Hang glider taking off from the steep pastures

Monte Festa (left) with pre-World War I fortress
on top

Lago di Cavazzo, created by retreating glaciers

Pieve di Santo Stefano, Cesclans