Friday, February 5, 2016

Sella Chianzutan

Sella Chianzutan is a favorite ride, winding up through beautiful Val d'Arzino gorge. It switchbacks up to a saddle valley between Monte Verzegnis and Monte Piombada.  I turned around here, but you could also zoom down the other side past Lago di Verzegnis to Fiume Tagliamento and Tolmezzo.  No snow today, but I did see a light dusting of frost on the mountains. 

Colle dei Larici

Monte Verzegnis

Nice workout after 50 km warmup

Saturday, January 30, 2016

San Lorenzo

A fun ride to Vittorio Veneto, with the lovely climb up to San Lorenzo (415 meters).  Afterward descended near Tarzo, then through the rolling vineyards and olive groves to Cozzuolo.  Must credit Paul Kim for introducing me to these pleasant Veneto backroads over the past few years.

Apologies again for lack of photos- too hazy.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


I thought I'd try the climb up to Collalto this morning to see if it was snowed over.  No, it too is snowless.  I was surprised how hard the climb felt, then I realized I wasn't breathing.  It seems it would come naturally by now, but no, I must concentrate on taking deeper breaths when exercising hard.  Once I get back in the habit I won't have to think about it so much.

Sorry for the lack of pics, it was quite hazy. I saw two beautiful eagles, also a couple of small yellow songbirds.  Nice quiet ride.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Passo Monte Rest

A strange ride for late January in northern Italy.  After I climbed above the overcast from Lago di Redona the sky was suddenly crystal clear, windless and though still frigid, felt like October.  No snow, no ice, not even frost, just the tawny, golden color of dry grass.  As I headed up the switchbacks I met only one soul, a hiker who waved and said "Tag!"  I was wearing a balaclava and Oakley's but somehow he knew I had German ancestry.  

At the deserted pass there was no snow, and looking at the summit above it was the same.  I rode down the north side a bit and noted the Carnic alps have some snow, but sparse.  This could all change in a week or two though so there's still hope.

The ride back down and home was fun.  I may try this as a loop coming back over Selle Chianzutan.  Never did that in winter before.

Monte Rest, left, and Monte Valcalda, right, from Maleon

Close up of snowless Monte Rest

Close up Monte Valcalda

Summit of Monte Rest from the pass

The hill to right of pass has bear caves with surveillance cameras

It's a good workout

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sesto al Reghena

This is another town I've driven past 100 times but never stopped to see.  I rode there in the midst of our first cold snap with temps down below 0℃.  Bundled up so it wasn't too bad.  Down through Pordenone and Azzano Decimo to Sesto, where I quickly found the castello and Abbazia Santa Maria in Sylvis, a Benedictine Monastery founded in 730 AD.  This is a beautiful place and I got so carried away taking pictures I almost froze.   Finally I tore myself away and rode as fast as I could to generate heat.  I think I was almost back to Pordenone before I felt good and warm.  I'll try to return when warmer and also visit inside the Abbazia which has some great artworks.

The gate tower on west end

Lovely ceramic mural piece 

The east gate tower

Peacocks strutting around the grounds

The bridge to east gate tower

Nice cantilever design

Gate and campanile

Arched windows of the Abbazia

Detail of window arch column

The Abbazia

The old Municipio (town hall)

Some lovely frescoes on east end of Municipio

Another angle of the castello gate tower

Fiume  Reghena

Friday, January 15, 2016

Casera Pian de la Corona MTB

A short MTB ride from our house to Grizzo, past Monte Spia, The Osservatorio Astronomico, Casera Pian de la Corona to a grassy knob with great views in all directions.  From there I descended to a dirt forestry road heading north.  This gradually changes from dirt road to a beech-covered mountainside trail, which is mostly bikeable except for some narrow off-camber pitches I had to walk.  There are cliffs overhead, lower part of Pala d'Altei.  The map shows the trail continuing to Bosco Faedo.  On the way back I noticed views of Lago di Ravedis through the trees.  I'll come back and explore this more- it's too nearby to miss.

Our village Giais, under looming storm clouds

Monte Faro to northeast

Montereale Valcellina

Friday, January 8, 2016

Monte Prat

Another favorite ride, Forgaria to Monte Prat.  Surprisingly crowded today, which I eventually figured out from the banners along the road:  Tomorrow and Sunday Italian National Cyclocross Championships will be held here.  Lots of teams practicing and team cars, bikes mechanics etc driving up to Monte Prat.  I will try to catch it on TV.   Great ride. 

Race preparations in Monte Prat meadows,
with Monte Cuar and Flagjel in background

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lago Ca'Selva

Overcast and cold with leaden skies: the perfect day for a ride.  I rode past numerous falo' bonfire preparations, a Celtic rite which has now been attached to Epifania.  At Meduno I headed north then crossed the dam at Redona, then rode along the lakeshore to Chievolis where I crossed Torrente Silisia.  Here you head steeply upward for awhile before beginning a series of saliscendi for an awesome workout.  Pavement ends at the dam, so I headed toward home.  Somewhere along in here it began to sprinkle lightly, just enough to get all my gear wet but not enough to freeze me solid.  This is a perennial favorite ride and never disappoints.

View west, water level very low

Normally submerged ancient dwellings

Northwest exposed submerged dwellings

Close up with stone walls marking old fields and pastures

Eastward down rugged, remote  Val Silisia

Friday, January 1, 2016

Strada del Patriarca

Strada del Patriarca dates from the 13th century (at least) when it connected Sacile (controlled by the  patriarch of Acquila) with the road to Austria.  To reach it I rode down Via Pedemontana  to Villa di Villa.  Head up the hill past the turnoff for Sarmede and soon you reach the  ruin of Castello di Cordignano.  Here you bear right, skirt above a large gravel mine face, and meander steeply through an area with groves of trees alternating with open pastures.  Very sparsely populated, beautiful zone.  Eventually you reach the beech, fir, and karst forest of il Cansiglio (here the road was recently paved and is wonderfully smooth).  Continue climbing steeply to the junction with main road from Sarone to La Crosetta. No snow up here either, just some old thawed/remelted ice.

The ride down through Sarone and home was easy.  Peaceful start to the New Year and a great workout with 12.5 km of 8.6%. 

Castello di Cordignano

Parco Carbonai is an abandoned settlement where
early settlers cut wood and slow-burnt it to make charcoal;
you'll see the turnoff higher up in the beech forest section

Transition to beech forest up around 800 meters 

Snowless Passo di La Crosetta

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Piancavallo from Barcis

This is one of the prettiest rides around here.  From west shore of Lago di Barcis up the gorge of Torrente Caltea to Piancavallo, all wilderness.  And you get a good workout, 13 km of 7.5%.  It was  a little icy up near the top where previous light snowfalls have melted and re-frozen.  A couple of times I had to hop off and walk along the edge for maybe 50 meters where the ice and steepness prevented rear wheel from getting traction.  Much less snow than normal for this time of year.
Descended down the main road to Aviano, much less traffic than usual because of fewer skiers.  

View north of  rocky Monte Resettum

Closer up

Monday, December 28, 2015

Passo San Osvaldo

I enjoyed riding through the 4 km tunnel by Barcis on Saturday so much I returned to ride through it twice more,  this time from Montereale Valcellina / Lago di Ravedis.  I continued past Barcis to Cimolais and climbed up the little pass of San Osvaldo (848 meters).  The return ride is one of the sweetest around here: 40km almost all downhill.   Hard to describe how good that feels after burning your muscles all the way up there.

Some of the peaks of Val Cimolana 

Note the rock towers along the ridge, a local specialty

San Osvaldo's little chapel,
with the first snow I've seen this year

From the pass, more Val Cimolana eye-poppers

Close up of rock walls high above

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pala Barzana

Pala Barzana is a good training ride from east to west (Poffabro to Andreis), and slightly harder in the opposite direction.  Today I took the easy way, up through Bus di Colvera and Poffabro.  Quite chilly in the shade of the mountain but the climbing kept me warm.  At the top (854 meters) the road was frosty and I felt some slippage so I rode very slowly.  Good job too because it got frostier and even a thin dusting of snow above Bosplans.  

There were a few sightseers enjoying Santo Stefano but not enough traffic to be a bother.  Finally I reached the less-steep and -frosty road by Andreis and tried riding fast as possible to warm-up but it was useless:  I was frozen.  The 4 km tunnel was a bit warmer and I got a little warmth on the short climb to the tunnel above Montereale.  I hurried home and pulled off my shoes and socks to warm my block-of-ice feet by the heater.  I'm still feeling a little cold but a warm bath will cure that.

Monte Raut above Pala Barzana

Beautiful peaks above Andreis

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Piani di Clauzetto

The cloud cover broke and I headed for the hills.  From Meduno I followed the rolling road along Lago di Tramonti until the turn off for Campone, beside Torrente Chiarzo.  Here you begin a winding climb to Piani di Clauzetto (3 km of 7% reaching 686 meters), a curvy rough descent to Pradis di Sotto (526 meters) and a steepish climb to Pradis di Sopra (3 km of 6.5% reaching 722 meters).  From there down through Clauzetto and home.

Cima Lareseit from Piani di Clauzetto

Monte Taeit from Pradis di Sotto

Saturday, December 19, 2015


I left home feeling energetic but by the time I reached Caneva I was really feeling the hard climb of yesterday.  I avoided the usually hilly approach to Villa di Villa and took the lower route.  After Sarmede there was no avoiding the inevitable, so I just stood and gutted out the 1.5 km of 10% (again with +15% ramps).  Afterward, I stopped and pretended to photograph the countryside, whilst softly whimpering and moaning in pain.

Once I regained my composure I continued along the saliscendi of the hillside road.  It's a beautiful conch valley, with starting points for many steeper climbs up toward Il Cansiglio.  At Fregona the road heads downward, leveling out around Cappela Maggiore.   Again I was doing my best to stay on the flats, and succeeded all the way to Marsure where again there's just no getting around it.

BTW at the industrial zone of Polcenigo I tried a shortcut to Budoia which ended in a dirt road and a flooded gravel pit.  I rode through the woods on some muddy singletrack but the highway bridge in the distance was still on the wrong side of the water.  I hiked through the woods carrying my road bike and finally reached  the bridge.  So don't turn into the industrial zone at the Cimolais sign, wait till you see the SEDIT sign (that road leads to Budoia).
Olive groves and vineyards in Rugolo 

Sheep and lambs enjoying the sunshine

The view west toward Monte Cesen