Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pala Barzana - Col Alto

Crazy weather today so I tried to do a quick local ride.   Up Valcolvera, Valdifrina and over Pala Barzana.  Weather was holding up pretty well so far, so I continued to Barcis and up the backroad to Piancavallo.  Still no rain but skies were menacing ahead.  After Piancavallo I climbed to Col Alto at 1360 meters, donned cold weather gear and headed down.  Light drizzle down to Castaldia and then slightly harder to Rifugio Bornass.  I headed down the back way to Costa and the rain gradually increased.  Never absolutely poured, but it was raining all the way home from Costa.  I stripped all the wet stuff off on the porch and jumped in a hot bath- good as new.  Good ride regardless- still keeping to my 34-27 gear goal.  The 30 tooth is reserved for insane steepness only.

Mountains to north of Pala Barzana descent

The valley where Andreis nests

Tortuous sedimentary folding visible in these cliffs near Andreis

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monte Faverghera

There are two paved roads to Nevegal: a relatively easy climb from Ponte nelle Alpi and a very steep climb from Belluno.  The steep climb was featured as a cronoscalata in  the 2011 Giro d'Italia.  I've ridden it once before but usually opt for the climb from Ponte nelle Alpi.  Today I decided it was time to refresh my memory and try the steep route again.  

After the warm up from Vittorio Veneto I turned left from the lakeshore toward Vich.  I had planned a back way to avoid the main road along the south bank of the Piave River, but quickly got lost and ended up on the main road.  Meno male, traffic wasn't too bad this day after Ferragosto weekend.  At the bridge crossing from Belluno, you turn south up the slope to Castions.  Not steep so far, but soon a wall looms ahead.  From 450 meters elevation to 1000 meters you average 10% gradient with no let up.  It eases somewhat south of Nevegal, then steepens again.  After Nevegal you continue another 5 km up the switchbacks to Monte Faverghera at 1360 meters.  From here I walked up the trail briefly to the cliffs overlooking Lago di Santa Croce, Fadalto, and Alpago.  Cloudy today but still spectacular.

I zoomed down the easier road toward Ponte nelle Alpi, turning right at Col di Cugnan and descending through Cornolade to the main road along the lake.  Fast descent to Vittorio Veneto and then drove home.  I did today's climb in 34 X 27 (just to see if I could)- legs very tired now.

Cloud forest on Monte Faverghera cliffs

Reflection of sea of clouds in Lago di Santa Croce

Mezzomiglio pastures through the mist above Il Cansiglio

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Col Grande

After a week of rain (and painting Marilyn's bedroom) I finally saw a chance to escape.  Col Grande is another of our highest local spots reachable on a road bike.  This climb starts at Coltura (by Polcenigo), climbs up to Mezzomonte on the main road, then follows a narrow mountain lane from Mezzomonte cemetery to Col delle Palse at 1360 meters.  Then you take a right on the ridge road, riding on rough rocks for 100 meters until pavement resumes (you could carry or push your bike over this stretch if rims/tires are a worry).  You climb on the paved road to 1460 meters where pavement ends again.  The road continues (if you're on a MTB) to Valle Friz and Piancavallo.

On the way down it got cold so I put on my arm warmers and vest.  I wished I had my leg warmers too.  There was a group of mountain bikers coming up and later, to my amazement, a road biker.  That's the first time I've seen another road biker up here in the past year or two.  Maybe word is spreading.  

Be careful of the drainage channels- they are numerous.

Fun ride.  Now if this rain will go away!

Road continues from end of pavement to Valle Friz

Beautiful view of the hillside, the pianura,
and the Adriatico shimmering in the distance.

View of northeast coast of Adriatico (Trieste, Grado) 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Panoramica delle Vette road closed

The Panoramica delle Vette ridge road from Monte Crostis to Ravascletto is closed due to landslides, falling rocks.  Very popular with road bikers and MTBers after its inclusion in the Giro stage to Zoncolan a few years ago, and last minute deletion for dangerousness (while stage was in progress).  I was planning a MTB climb from Sutrio to Pian delle Streghe and then west to Monte Crostis.  Maybe I'll try in Autumn.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Casera Campo

Needed to get a quick ride in early this morning so I picked the highest nearby point you can roadbike to: Casera Campo.   Nice and cool at 0615 as I rode down to Pedemonte.  From here turn right on Via Monte Cavallo and head up the hill to Piancavallo at 1243 meters.  From the roundabout take the road  marked Sauc, then descend through the forest till you reach a clearing and turn right.  This road is asphalt at first, then later concrete.  Ride on past Casera Campo to end of pavement at 1435 meters.  On a mountain bike you can continue to Casera Valle Friz at 1500 meters, Col di Palse, Il Cansiglio etc.  Instead I turned around and headed down (watch out for the drainage channels).  Many more roadbikes ascending now that the sun was broiling the road.  Made it home before 0945.  Nice morning!

Monte Sauc (1600m) above Casera Campo

The gravel road continuing west to Casera Valle Friz

The road coming up from Casera Campo at end of pavement

Strada Venezia delle Nevi MTB trail climbing up from Dardago,
 viewed from Via Monte Cavallo (1019 meters)

Strada Venezia delle Nevi MTB trail
continues climbing to Sauc (1193 m)

Below the cliffs of Monte Sauc (1600m)
you can see Casera Campo (I forgot to
take a picture of it when I was up there)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Monte Dolada

A clear day!  Rode down to Vittorio Veneto and up over Fadalto to Lago di Santa Croce.  Past the lake I turned right toward Pieve d'Alpago.  Long climb through Tignes, Pieve and Plois to the start of the real steepness:  Monte Dolada.   Here I finally had to started using the 34-30 gear, yet still I  was struggling.  But I didn't stop once to rest, which may be the first time I made it up Dolada non-stop.  At the end of pavement (1495m) I panted for a moment and then began descending.  Lots of drainage channels to jump but otherwise a good road.  A guy was coming up on a mountain bike making a whirring noise: it had an electric motor.  18% grade or not, that's cheating.  At Pieve I was supposed to take a shortcut I had researched, but I was so tired I completely forgot.  So I went several km out of the way.  

At Puos d'Alpago I began the climb to Tambre and Il Cansiglio.  This is less steep than Dolada but if you're tired it's a good challenge.  After crossing Piancansiglio I climbed up to La Crosetta (1150m) and descended to Sarone.  Felt hot down here after being up high.  The hilly climb home took another hour, and then a nice soak in the bath.  Ahhh.  Good ride.

View of Alpago toward the east from Monte Dolada

Monte Dolada on left: the white house in the trees is
Rifugio Dolomieu, end of the road

Mountains to northwest 

Mountains to northeast

Lago di Santa Croce from below Pieve d'Alpago:
Col Visentin on right, Monte Pizzoc on left

Monday, August 4, 2014

Passo Valparola

A few years ago I ascended Passo Falzarego and Valparola from Caprile, then completed the loop through Corvara, Arabba and back to Caprile.  Somehow I never got around to climbing Falzarego from Cortina or Valparola from La Villa.  Today I tried to rectify that.

I left Cortina on my bike around 0730 (a quite nippley 48℉ in August!) and climbed past Pocol, Tofana di Rozes and Cinque Torri to Passo Falzarego at 2117 meters.  Then a km or so to Passo Valparola (2192 meters).  I donned my descending wear and sped down past stupendous Cima di Lago through San Cassione to La Villa (1420 m).  Crowded down here so I didn't linger long.

The climb back up to Passo Valparola was a good workout.  The traffic thins somewhat after Amentarola so it doesn't seem too bad.  Over the top I mostly coasted down to Cortina because the traffic after 11 AM was too heavy to go fast.  

Fun ride, though I do recommend starting very early in the morning.  Many tourists seem to sleep in, so you can use that to your advantage.  You can also combine either of these with other nearby passes to create numerous loops.   

Tofane di Rozes, 3225 meters

Piccolo Lagazuoi, 2778 meters 

Piccolo Lagazuoi close-up

Peak adjacent to Piccolo Lagazuoi

Marmolada glacier from Tre Sassi fortress, Passo Valparola

View to southwest from Tre Sassi fortress

View west toward La Villa, Gruppo Sella

Cima di Lago, 2654 meters

Close up of rock formations Cima di Lago

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Passo Manghen da Molina di Fiemme

Passo Manghen in Trentino is a special climb.  The forest it traverses is densely packed with big fir trees growing on slopes so steep it seems they must topple over.  There is hardly any sign of human development other than the road, which seems like a backcountry forest road.  Manghen is farther south than other 2000-meter passes and peaks of northeast Italy, and attracts fewer tourists in July/August than more famous mountains to the north.  

I climbed the southern approach from Val Sugana a couple years ago and today finally tried it from the north, Molina di Fiemme.  The climb starts very gradually, so you can use it for a warmup if you want.  I did just that, because I had gotten lost driving to Molina di Fiemme and squandered half an hour of ride-time.  After 6 or 7 kilometers of warming  up the hard climb begins: 8 km averaging 10% gradient with a few spots in the mid-teens (Garmin says 16%).  I decided to see if I could stay in the 27-tooth cog the whole way and I succeeded.  That was a first.  Also used my mountain bike pedals and shoes on the road bike because I was originally planning a climb in Austria where they'd be needed, but the weather there turned bad.  The MTB shoes seem more steep-climb friendly.

Lots of clouds boiling up over the pass from the south.  I quickly donned my cold weather clothes and headed back down.  Lovely descent with many riders heading uphill now.  Maybe word is getting out about this place.  Best of all I even found the correct roads driving home.  I highly recommend climbing Passo Manghen if you get a chance.  No tour busses, motorhomes or packs of motorcycles.  Lots of trees and streams.

Pastures transitioning to fir trees above Malga Cadinel

View of Cima Fornace across the valley from Cadinel

Stream rushing down the precipitous slope

Another stream with waterfall

Large loud cascate di Torrente Avisio

Rive delle Stue at 1250 meters

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Giau da Cortina

I climbed Giau from Selva di Cadore a few years ago but never got around to doing the other side.   So today I tried it.  On the drive up to Cortina it showered intermittently, and I was worried about getting caught on the pass in a storm.  I parked in a pay per hour lot at Cortina and a lady walked maybe 100 meters from her car to tell me there's a free lot just down the street.  Very kind of her.  After shifting the Mini down there, I started the bike climb up toward Falzarego.  After a few km I reached Pecol and turned left for Giau.  Very good road- lots of switchbacks to ease the gradient.  At the top the crowd was much smaller than on my last visit, no motorhomes, tour buses, motorcyclic hordes: instead, just a few tourists.  I'm thinking the weather has frightened people away.

The descent was very cold despite arm warmers and vest.  I'll try to remember my leg warmers next time.  This is a good climb- much easier than the other side, but with the same wilderness feel.  Highly recommended.

View to the west

To the northwest


Gruppo Sella in distance

Marmolada, with her glacier 

Cortina in valley with Sorapiss in background

Nuvolau from the east

Ponte Lastoi de Formin to southeast

Close-up of towers along the ridge

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monte Pizzoc

Our weather has been stormy off and on so I tried to work in a short local ride this morning.  On the road bike I cruised down to Sarone and headed up to La Crosetta at 1100 meters.  From here a little dip down toward Il Cansiglio and a left turn toward Monte Pizzoc.  This beautiful road climbs through a forest of large beech trees up to around 1400 meters, where the forest opens into alpine pastures, then on up to 1550 meters where the road ends.  Great views up here even with the cloudiness.  Descent and ride home were fun too- didn't even get cold.  And best of all- no rain.

View west toward Vittorio Veneto, prosecco area,
and Monte Cesen in distance

Northwest: Col Visentin, Bellunese dolomiti

To east: Il Cansiglio grassy altopiano, Monte Cavallo in distance

Wildflowers at summit

Looking down at the Cadolten area I recently rode the MTB to from Fregona