Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Fifty-Eight

When I visited Bergamo to pick up my Fedaia Sig Marco Bertoletti mentioned he also was born in 1958 and turned 58 this year.  Being a frame-building wizard he built a bike to commemorate the occasion:

I, on the other hand, made a pizza to celebrate the blessed event.

The tie-in to the blog is I was out of mozzarella for the pizza and rode Fedaia down to the store to pick some up.  In addition to its other attributes the bike is an excellent grocery-getter.   If only I'd have 58 more years to ride.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Passo della Forcella Road Bike

I rode up here on my MTB a couple years ago, stopping to hyperventilate repeatedly.  But I figured my fitness has improved since then plus I've got a 34-32 granny gear on the Viner so I might be able to road bike it.  I started at Comeglians and did an easy warm-up loop then headed up through Luint and Mione.  Now you start a tortuous climb rarely dipping below mid-teens gradient.  I tried to take it easy and enjoy the glorious fir tree forest.  This worked amazingly well until 1375 meters when the cumulative toll of all those 20% ramps finally blew up.  I stopped and hung my head over the bars gasping for oxygen for several minutes.  I waited a bit.  Then I restarted, made it up the next long ramp and burst into flames.  I was done.  I did ride bits and pieces here and there in the remaining kilometer or so, but once I hit the concrete ramps, I was walking.  Luckily the road bike is much lighter to push than a MTB.  

The descent is a delight because the road is so well drained: no wheel-destroying channels to jump or death-brake for.  On the other hand it's kind of a corkscrew and you rarely have enough distance to build up speed before the next bend.  That's ok though: it's a climb unto itself and doesn't fit into any category.  I will try this again, possibly on MTB so I can continue to Rifugio Losa and descend to Lago di Sauris.  Spectacular high country!      

Views from 1740 meters

The obligatory rooster shot at Mione

East toward Zocolan

North toward Rigolato 

Northeast rises Monte Crostis


Monday, September 19, 2016

Coltura-Valle Friz-Piancavallo

First time up this big climb with Fadeia; it worked real well.  The climb is pretty unique for our local area: long, steep, remote and beautiful.  I will try to ride it more often in future because it saves you having to drive somewhere to find a great climb.  It's right on our doorstep.

Horses grazing in the high country

The newly paved road is perfect

Clear view to the Adriatic Sea

Pastureland above Dardago 

Clouds focus spotlights on the terrain

Cliffs above Torrente Artugna


Long hard climb

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mangart da Chiusaforte

I drove to Chiusaforte and headed up Val Raccolana, a deep narrow gorge with many waterfalls.  At Sella Nevea you top out at 1162 meters and then head down to Lago del Predil at 960 meters.  After the lake you ascend again to Passo del Predil at 1156 meters.  Now in Slovenia you descend to the turn off for Mangart at 1080, where all the saliscendi ends and you head steeply upward.  It's a beautifully-made road with switchbacks and tunnels, passing first through a rocky gorge then entering a tall dense fir forest.  With altitude this thins and eventually you're climbing rock with some nice alpine grassland.  The very top is a ridge line, dropping off vertically to the north.

The descent was much easier but I went slowly to avoid tourists in cars, motorcycles and a surprising number of cyclists.  I did get very cold, despite arm warmers and a wind vest; next time I'll bring legwarmers.  This is a beautiful climb, as are Vrisc from Kranjska Gora and Vrisic from Trenta.  Paradise!   

Peaks in the Mangart group

Laghi Fusine near Tarvisio

Fedaia clearly wants to keep climbing

View of the area you climb through

Lago del Predil

Mangart stats

Monday, September 12, 2016

Val Cimoliana

Up Val Cellina, through the tunnels, past Barcis again, but this time I rode to Cimolais and then turned up Val Cimoliana.  Beautiful mountains, streams, forests and at the end a famous pinnacle, il Campanile di Val Montanaia.  Today there were cars from Sweden and France parked at the trailhead, and I saw a gnat-sized climber ascending the vertical rock face.  The ride home is all downhill (almost) and felt dreamlike.  Probably not safe to ride in that condition  but I got away with it this time.   This area is too close-by to visit so infrequently.  I'll try to make amends. 

Looking up from end of pavement (sorry for poor photo quality)

il Campanile di Val Montanaia with a tiny climber
2/3rds of the way up the right edge

Gorgeous Torrente Cimoliana

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Val Settimana

A favorite ride up Valcellina, turning off just before Claut and heading north up Val Settimana.  This road follows the river alternating between pavement and gravel.  Eventually it reaches  Casera La Pussa, where I explored around awhile.

The return was fun, slightly downhill and fast.  I got carried away and did one of the transitions to gravel (and bigger rocks) too rapidly , blowing both tire tubes.  So I replaced them and continued down  past Barcis and home.  Fun ride.

Casera La Pussa

Steep mountainsides above Valle Senons

Stream along Valle Senons trail

Cliffs west of  La Pussa

Cascata on Torrente Valle di Pes

GPS track is missing about 7km after I forgot to restart after tube change

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Col Alt

Col Alt is a killer climb from Rugolo to a World War II memorial.  I've MTB'ed there before but decided to see if I could do it on Fedaia.  From Sarmede I made it up to about 530 meters but then I was toast.  After hyperventilating awhile I realized I wouldn't make it to the flat spot at 560 meters (turn off to Chiesetta Alpini) so I pushed.  There I remounted and wobbled up the climb to end of pavement at 760 meters.  As you know, the gravel road is even harder to climb, but I made it to the hiking path turn off at 776 meters.  It's grassy single track so I tried to shoulder the 20 lb bike but I was too tired even for that, and had to push it.  I reached the monument at 823 meters, sat down in the shade of the obelisk and ate a piece of cake a friend had given me.   

That revived me so I headed down.  After a brief gravel stretch I reached Strada del Patriarche and coasted down to Villa di Villa and then pedaled home.  Good challenge and I'll try again one day.

Fedaia under trail sign

Col Visentin and Pizzoc

Ridge above Col Alt

Monument to the Partigiani

Too steep for 28 tooth

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Zoncolan da Ovaro

Zoncolan is one of the toughest paved climbs in Friuli.  I think only Passo della Forcella from Mione might be tougher.  I tried Ovaro-Zoncolan a couple of years ago and stopped many times to rest (I'd tell you how many but I was too knackered to count).  Anyway I've been riding more hard climbs since then and also installed a 32 tooth granny gear on the Viner.  It was hard but never felt like I would need to stop.

At the top the morning was crystalline with great views in all directions.  I rode back down to Ovaro for the first time- very steep descent.  Highly recommended.

I warmed up with a climb to St Maria Gort on
west bank of Torrente Degano

To the north gorgeous Austrian alps

View west up Val Pesarina 

Northwest toward Forni Avoltri e Sappada

View along the descent

Southwest panorama

Ovaro in Val Degano

I was lucky I started early.  On descent a herd of cows
was heading down the road toward pasture

Steep but climbable