Monday, October 20, 2014

Casera Losa MTB

I parked at Ampezzo (560 meters) and rode over Passo Pura (1482 meters)- 8 km averaging 9% gradient.  Then I descended to Lago di Sauris at 965 meters, quite cold on this overcast morning.  Across the high dam and a brief ride along the shore line brought me to the turnoff for Lateis.  Newly asphalted and switch-backed to ease the gradient, the road arrived in a little town seemingly transplanted from Bavaria or Switzerland.  The road steepens and then as I climbed out of town the gradient reaches the mid- to high-teens.  It finally levels briefly at Forca Frumeibn (1423 meters).  As you descend the pavement ends, but it's very hard-packed dirt and should be road bikeable.  

A large cement mixer was ascending as I swooped around a curve so I hopped off and held my bike on the steep edge: the large truck went by with a few inches to spare.  The dirt road enters a meadow with a house, a little chapel and a very old barn at Stavoli Hinter d'Olbe.   Now asphalt returns and I bore right across Rio Temberle, and after some saliscendi, crossed the guado of Rio Piellinis.  Very large eroded landslide area on the mountainside upstream.

Now begins another long steep climb.  The pavement ends again, but this gravel road is a little too rough for a road bike: I was glad I'd brought the MTB.  Eventually you exit the forest and arrive in alpine pastureland.  The clouds now broke up and glorious warm sunshine illuminated the mountains.  I couldn't resist continuing to the area near Casera Losa (1740 meters), in a conch surrounded by grassy peaks.  My drop-dead time to head back passed but I had to spend another 15 minutes exploring the area.

Descent was fast and once I reached the lake I headed down through the tunnels and high bridges through Torrente Lumiei gorge.  The porphyry-block pavement was wet so I was worried about sliding down in the steep tunnels.  Luckily I made it unscathed and reached the car at Ampezzo.

Must try this again and connect with the Passo Forcella climb from Mione, near Ovaro.  Only lacked a few kilometers today but had to get home to stay out of the doghouse. 

Lateis house

Lateis hay drying barn

Stavoli Hinter d'Olbe barn with
curved beams like a ship's ribs

Wood carving of Sant' Antonio

Chapel of Sant'Antonio; note hex head
wooden peg joining

Glorious alpine pastureland near Casera Gerona 

The gravel road from Casera Gerona toward Casera Losa

Valley below the alpine pastures

Casera Losa

The dirt road toward Passo Forcella

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Giro del Cansiglio MTB

Started bright and early from La Crosetta  and after a couple hundred meters turned right on to the gravel road to Monte Candaglia.  Beautiful forest road, mostly level along the side of the ridge.  After riding up to Monte Candaglia I continued climbing to the eastern boundary of il Cansiglio, marked with a surveyors stone marker centuries ago.

Back down a bit I turned right on the forest road descending to Val Bona.  The road is rougher with larger stones, covered with leaves so you can't avoid them.  At Val Bona I continued on Sentiero Alpago Natura to Pian Rosada,  where I rejoined the paved road toward Canaie.  I tried a couple of side roads I thought might reach Casera Palantina.  The first climbs up through Val Seraie to around 1400 meters.  From there you'd continue hiking on CAI 984 to Val Friz.

After descending to Canaie I tried another road, climbing up Val de Piera.  This ended around 1300 meters, with the possibility of hiking CAI 922 to Casera Palantina.  I will have to return and hike it some day.

Now I headed back through Pian Rosada to Campon, where I turned right immediately for Palughetto and on toward  Rifugio Mezzomiglio.  Very steep climb but paved mostly so no problem on MTB.

My plan was to try the trail from Mezzomiglio to Monte Pizzoc, but things went awry.  I crossed the grassy ridge above Mezzomiglio and found the trail I needed, H3.  Immediately it became a muddy mire, churned by livestock hooves into an impassable mess.  I tried continuing a ways but it just got worse.  The H3 trail has no pathway, gravel, etc: just markers showing you the way through the mud. I will come back in the dry season and hike this: there is another parallel trail closer to the cliff edge which crosses Monte Millifret.  

Instead, I retraced my steps to another unrideble muddy trail crossing the ridge and descending to Strada Taffarel.  I carried my road bike over this short trail a few years ago after climbing to Mezzomiglio and it was less muddy that time of year.

Finally reaching Taffarel I tried to make up time, with only 4 or 5 mud bogs on the road to contend with.  Then down the Monte Pizzoc road and up to La Crosetta.  Now I'm stanco di morte. 

The turnoff for Val Seraie

End of road in Val de Piera 

Mom and baby asino at Mezzomiglio

Asinino posing in front of Dolomiti Bellunese

Ancient flatrock wall made without  mortar

Strange stack of huge boulders above Mezzomiglio

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Col della Luna MTB

Meduna River valley has numerous side roads to explore  and today's ride is a new one for me.  After warming up through Valcolvera to Poffabro and Torrente Muie to Navarons, I rode north along Lago dei Tramonti and onward to Tramonti di Sopra.   Here you turn left off SR 552 and immediately turn left again at a sign marked Picnic Area.  You descend to a large park along the river, then continue descending to a bridge across Torrente Meduna at 342 meters.  This is the start of the climb.

The road is paved at first and quite steep.  At Pradis a meadowy area affords you good previews of the mountains you'll be ascending.  A little further along there are Proprieta Privato signs on both sides of the road so I asked the guys working near their house if I could pass through.  One said of course, then added "Ma non va troppo veloce sulla salita" and laughed.  10,000 mountains in Italy and I have to choose the one with the comedian.   The road now gets crazy steep, around 20%, but it's paved and has occasional switchback ends where I could catch my breath.  As you grapple higher the road becomes leaf-strewn and wet from all the rain, so it's impossible to stand in the pedals without loosing traction.  

Around 700 meters elevation pavement ends but the packed gravel road is pretty good.  Still wet,  leaf-strewn though, which was no problem except for hidden metal drainage channels: on your power stroke if you are slightly inclined your rear wheel suddenly skews sideways.  It's a little disconcerting inches away from a long, steep embankment.   At 800 meters you reach a fork: a flat road straight ahead, but more steep switchbacks if you turn left.  I went straight but it ends after a couple hundred meters: I think this may be start of the hiking trail to Forcella di Pria.  Back at the fork I headed up.

This is the toughest part of the climb: the wet leaf-strewn dirt road now steepens, the gravel is less packed and traction is a challenge.  But I eventually made it up to end of the road at 1030 meters, where a step narrow unmarked trail begins.  I do not know if this is the best route, but there must be a  hiking path somewhere leading to the summit of Col della Luna at 1422 meters.          

I now began descending which was great fun.  To my surprise I encountered another MTBer pushing his bike up the trail.  Very friendly guy.  On down the hill and back up to Tramonti di Sopra and home.  Weather looked very threatening from Montreale to Giais, but only a tiny spruzzata.

Torrente Meduna at bridge below Pradis

Monte Giavons to north

Monte Crepa to south

The start of steep dirt switchbacks at 800 meter junction

Cloudy Monte Frascola from around 900 meters

End of the road at 1030 meters

Monte Frascola from Pradis

Monte Giavons from Pradis

Yellow line indicates the road I was on   

From Torrente Meduna to end of climb

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sella Nevea - Passo del Predil

It rained as I drove to Chiusaforte and I thought I'd have to go back home.  But it stopped and I set out on my bike for Sella Nevea.  Val Raccolana is a gorgeous ride, a gorge through a range of rugged mountains with abundant waterfalls to ogle.   It's rolling road at first, than pitches up steeply to Sella Nevea.  As I ascended the scala of switchbacks below the pass I entered a layer of overcast, thick fog.  The turn off for Altopiano Montasio was completely socked in.  From the Sella (1190 meters)  I  descended eastward to Lago del Predil at 980 meters.   Beautiful forests surround the lake, with mountain peaks towering above.  

I reached the junction and turned upward again toward Slovenia.  After more switchbacks through the forest I reached the border and soon Passo del Predil (1156 meters).  There is an old Austrian fortress here from the Napoleonic Wars.  I turned around and retraced my route.   Miraculously the rain stayed away the whole ride.  Then on the drive home it started back up.  This is a beautiful remote area with great cycling when the weather's fair, most notably  Altopiano Montasio (1515 meters) and Mangart (2055 meters). 

Fontanone Goriuda waterfall with cave at the base
- must hike to it if you have time

Memorial to fallen Austrian soldiers at the 1809 battle site

The Predil pass road is built right through the old fortress

Predil Fortress, autumn forest

View from switchbacks ascending to Passo del Predil from the lake

Looking down at the lake

Lake view toward the west

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Forcella di Monte Zogo MTB

Wonderful climb today.  I parked in Segusino, northwest of Valdobbiadene on the Piave River.  I didn't allow myself enough distance to warm up before the start of steep climbing.  I'd recommend doing a few kilometers along the river to warm up.  The first 7 km average 8%, with some 12% stretches, a vigorous effort.  After Miles the pavement ends, and the second stage of the climb begins:  steep gravel/dirt through the forest for about 4.5 km, averaging 10.5%, with sections in the high teens and higher.  This is the hardest part of the ascent because of the loose surface and loss of traction.

Now the forest gives way to Monte Zogo's open grassland; shortly you reach the forcella at 1270 meters.  It's a beautiful spot: mountainous forest sweeping down both sides of the narrow pass.   I was surprised to see the road now heading back into the forest to the northeast, with an alternating muddy and gravel rolling road.  This was a blast to ride because you could gain enough momentum on some of the downhills to get a good running start on the following uphill.  The fun lasts for 3.2 km until you reach Capitel di Garda, where I had climbed from Marziai in July.  

This is a better maintained road which follows the east side of the ridge above a deep, steep, forested valley.  I stopped and could hear bellowing stags also here: they seemed to be having a contest down in the hollows far below.  Toward the next open pasture area the road steepens as you climb to the border with Lentiai comune around 1200 meters.    Finally you reach Col Artent, a beautifully landscaped WW I battlefield park.  The paved descent to Lentiai is fun, then a long flattish stretch along the Piave back to Segusino.  Good cool down after an exhilarating ride!   

View of Zogo from a clearing

From higher up, a closer view of Zogo

Looking down at Miles: just getting there was a tough climb

Looking back at Forcella di Monte Zogo
(notch in ridge) from near Capitel di Garda

Junction of the rolling forest road with road to Lentiai

View of the Piave River and surrounding mountains

Col Artent gravestone of soldier killed in
November, 1918, the last month of WW I

Friday, October 3, 2014

Casera Senons MTB

Last year I rode up to Claut and then continued along Torrente Settimana to Rifugio Pussa.  Later I decide the best MTB ride from there would be the forest road to Casera Senons.  Today I finally got around to trying it.

I was well-warmed up by the time I reached Rifugio Pussa so I stopped to explore the meadows surrounded by mountains along Torrente Settimana .  Really pretty spot.  Then I headed up the dirt road toward Casera Senons.  The road is fairly steep gravel, then switches to concrete on the steeper sections.  There are switchbacks climbing through the fir forest, and as you get higher instead of concrete the steep bits are paved with large stones without mortar: incredibly bumpy even with a suspension fork.  Before long it's nothing but gravel even on the steeps.  Very hard because you must power up them seated  and half of your power is wasted in wheel-slippage.

Finally the steepness lessens as you enter the beautiful pastures below Casera Senons.  This is one of the loveliest places I've ever seen: autumn leaves and rocky mountains against a blue sky, all rising from a rolling green meadow.  I heard a stag deeply bellowing to attract mates, a very wild and primitive sound.  Tried to record it with camera but all you can hear is wind noise.

On the way back down I saw a black grouse with red head (gallo forcello) awkwardly winging from tree to tree.  They fly kinda like a chicken.

The ride home was long but mercifully downhill (mostly).  May try a hike from Pussa next time - Monte Pramaggiore climb starts there.      

Above Pussa, the rolling meadows along the trail

Looking across the lower meadows toward the west

After climbing to 1324 meters you reach Casera Senons

Ridge to south

Abandoned cows' stall with stone walls and wood shingle roof

Cima Nartais above stall

Close up of Cima with autumn color

View to northeast Vetta Fornezze

From Valle di Senons: Monte Chiarescon

Sunday, September 28, 2014


 I looked down from Sveta Gora last year into the deep gorge of the Soca River.  The mountain on the other side, Sabotin, is not as high as Sveta Gora but it is just as steep and spectacular.  I vowed to try climbing it.  Almost a year later I finally got around to it.  There are several ascending dirt roads and trails on the Italian side of the border but none for a road bike.  When I found out the road on the Slovenian side was paved, I headed for it.

From Vinko in Italy I crossed into Slovenia near Neblo, and continued on the rolling climb through Dobrovo, Drnovk and Smartno to Gonjace.  Here take the left turn marked Plave and begin climbing. After awhile you reach a right turn with a small pyramid, and tourist info sign: this is the road to Sabotin.  The pavement is good and the gradients weren't too bad.  Garmin says I hit 15% but it must not have been for long.  It's a really nice climb.

At end of pavement is a museum and many restored fortifications, part of Pot Miru peace parks along the border.  I checked out the trenches and tunnels the soldiers drilled and blasted into the rock for protection.  I'd like to go back and lock up the bike so I can explore more.  The ride down was a blast, with perfect clear weather today and great views of the surrounding countryside.  Go check it out if you get a chance.  

Pyramid Memorial to WW I soldiers

Looking southwest toward the coastal plain

The view west of beautiful Slovenian hill towns

To the north, Sabotin's escarpment
ends in rock cliffs above the Soca

The entryway into one of the many tunnels the
Austro Hungarians blasted out of solid rock

A larger tunnel

Sveta Gora across the Soca

The sheer-sided gorge of the Soca

A stone trench

Entry from trench into tunnels

View of church/castle in rolling Goriska Brda countryside