Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cortina Via Lunga delle Dolomiti

Left the house on my bike at 6AM and headed up Valcellina, over Passo San Osvaldo to Longarone, and up the Piave River to Perarolo.  Here I climbed the Cavallera Road to Pieve di Cadore and joined Via Lunga delle Dolomiti toward Cortina.  This is a wonderful bikeway constructed on the abandoned railway to Cortina.  No big trucks or buses, no speeding cars to dodge.  And the scenery is natural- forest and meadows, whitewater and mountains.  Really a great bike route.  Just after Dogana Vecchia, the old border with Austria, the road turned to dirt and was snowed over.  I thought about continuing on the busy main road but no,  I'll ride that stub when I go from Cortina to Dobbiaco, the upper stretch of the Via Lunga.  Awesome ride.

Caralta, where I mistakenly turned on last month's attempt

Beautiful wide pavement, easy gradient of Cavallera Road,
part of 2013 Giro d'Italia stage from Tolmezzo  to Vajont dam

535 meter long steel span of Ponte di Cadore

Much work and money spent to improve the bikeway;
here a wooden-deck steel bridge crosses a torrente

Monte Pelmo



Snow covered Via Lunga near Dogana Vecchia

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pushing the limits of serviceability

I commute to school in Pordenone a couple of times per week on the aging Merckx.  The other day school let out and I was getting on my bike when my friend Paul from Ghana said "Your back tire is shot." I looked and he was right, threads were showing, its days were numbered.  I rode home and promptly forgot about it.  I had a new tire sitting in the cupboard, but it slipped my mind.  Fast forward to yesterday.  I was happily pedaling to school and heard a pfft pfft pfft sound.  I pulled over and pumped it up.  After another couple km it flatted again.  I was late so I rode it flat to school, standing and weighting the front wheel.  This riding standing was surprisingly tiring, or maybe it was the 1000 strokes on the mini-pump that wore me out.  

I changed the tire at mid-morning break, pinching my palm with the mini-pump and squirting blood everywhere.  That and all the grease (the Merckx has a broken derailleur hanger and the fiddly temporary one falls off when you remove the wheel).  After cleaning up with no soap (school is short of supplies) I returned to class.

After school I headed home.  I felt great, nice tailwind.  Then at San Martino I heard the pffting again and used my second spare.  No injuries pumping this time but I foreswore the mini-pump from now on.  Gonna start hauling the heavier Road Morph.

This morning I replaced the tire and bought 2 new spare tubes.  Henceforth at the first sign of wear or nickage I'm changing the tire.  I will start writing notes to myself to remember.

See the green tablecloth through the hole?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Val de Croda

Another favorite local climb- down past Castello d'Aviano to the railroad tracks at 70 meters, then climb up through Budoia and Dardago, past Il Rifugio and Chalet restaurants, chiesa San Tome, the croda (cliffs) to end of pavement at 537 meters.  Excellent workout.  This summer I'll try descending from Piancavallo via the gravel road that ends at the 537 meter point- that should be fun.  Also checked out a trailhead at 520 meters that leads to the hiking trail above Mezzomonte's cemetery, to Valle Friz (1500 meters) and Pian Canaie in Cansiglio.  More explorations to pursue.

Followers of Socrates leaving cryptic messages along our trails;
this was also printed in German, French and Cyrillic 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Monte Ciaurlec

Between Meduno and Clauzetto a massif rises near-vertically almost 1000 meters from the plain below.   It is mostly undeveloped, with one paved road climbing from Meduno to Monte Valinis to transport parapendisti (hang-gliders) to their launch site.  It's one of my favorite local climbs.  The highest point on the massif is Monte Ciaurlec (1148 m), but there is no road to it, only a hiking trail.  I read several accounts of mountain bikers riding the trail so thought I'd try.

After biking up Monte Valinis I spotted the gate at CAI 819 trailhead.  In a grassy meadow nearby is Casera Valinis, an old farmhouse where fresh cheese was made.  I tried riding the trail but it was beyond my skill level.  Twisty, hilly, lots of protruding boulders, trees and roots: after falling once I knew it was pointless.  I parked the bike by a large karst boulder and hiked from then on.

The area is completely silent except for an occasional bird.  Trees and large karst rock formations alternate with alpine grassland, with large pillow-shaped grasses.  Still early Spring, so the trees are getting their first leaves, wildflowers cover the forest floor, but the grass is still wheaten-colored and hasn't turned green yet.  At 1135 meters my turn-around time was already passed so I skipped the walk across the rolling grassy hill to the highpoint.  Luckily I found my bike again and descended quickly to Meduno, then home.  There is another trail to Ciaurlec from the Italian Army shooting range above Travesio which I rode to last year- may try that.  Better still I might drive to Piani di Clauzetto (between Campone and Pradis di Sotto) and hike up to Ciaurlec with the pups.  They would love this place.     

The gate to CAI 819

View of Meduno from the gate

Parapendio zooming over

Casera Valinis

One of many karst formations

Near the summit

Grassy ground cover near the summit

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cascate d'Arzino

I tried to visit this cascade last year after crossing Monte Rest and ascending Sella Chiampon, but I turned too soon and  instead reached the spring where Torrente Arzino originates.  Today I decided to drive up from Anduins, park at the Val Preone junction (Sella Chiampon road) and hike to the cascade turnoff.  The dogs were much happier with this plan- they got a wilderness hike!

After a hundred meters or so this plan was dashed- a huge avalanche had wiped out the road.  I doubt it will be reopened anytime soon.  So I went with Plan C, driving down to the settlement of Pozzis, fording the river on foot and hiking along the Arzino to the falls.  The river was moving swiftly, filled with snowmelt and the flat rocks of the ford were very slippery, so I went upstream a few meters to cross on rounder cobbles.   I was carrying a dog under each arm and only had one sharp-edged rock that gave me cause for concern.  Afterward, I put my shoes back on and headed along the river bank.  This would be a decent gravel path for a mountain bike.  There is also a gravel road higher up the south bank, extending all the way down to the Pordenone province line, where a bridge crosses the Arzino: may try that someday.

Soon you reach the beautiful cascades which are quite full of water in Spring.  The river roars over 4 or 5 consecutive falls, separated by short stretches of flatter water.  The forestry corps has built nice bridges and wooden guardrails on the trails along the falls so it's safe for families.

The pups set a blistering pace back to the ford, where they enjoyed being carried as I hobbled over slick pointy stones.   Good hike!

Huge avalanche on Val Preone road

The lighter material in the avalanche is dirty ice
Some pretty wildflowers along the riverbank
This is Torrente Arzino above the falls
Two plunges in close succession
Close up of upper falls
Two of the middle falls
From the bridge on the middle falls;
strong low-pitched rumble here
Lower falls
Pool and rapids below lower falls
Honey and Teddi enjoying the cascate
Teddi is fascinated by white water
This is the ford; I crossed the wider rocky area on the right
to avoid the slippery surface of the flat ford stone

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monte Fara

Drove with the pups past Bosplans near the road closed barrier (landslides).  We hiked up the beautiful ridge trail from Forcella la Croce to Vetta Monte Fara at 1342 meters.  The pups had a great time trying to pick the correct trail route by sniffing.  Honey seemed to be the champion sniffer on the ascent, then Teddi took over.  From the vetta we briefly followed the trail toward Molassa, but soon turned right onto the disused trail to Malga Fara.  The red and white trailblazes are fewer and are faded, covered by snow in many sections.  Luckily Teddi came through and found the way with no problems.  The old trail eventually joins a logging road from which you can see the malga maybe 100 meters below.  My back was hurting ( I tweaked it somewhere along the way) so I decided to try the dirt road to avoid this steep slope.  After maybe 10 minutes of hiking away from the malga I decided the dirt road wasn't going to double back so I headed down through a steep meadow blanketed in crocuses.  I went slowly and my back survived.  Then down the paved road from the  malga to our car.  Great hike- may try the climb from Molassa or from near Ravedis dam next time.

Morning mist rising from Andreis

Monte Raut early morning sun

Monte Jouf cliffs; you can hike the gap between
Monte Fara and Jouf via Ravedis trail

Honey alerting on a possible threat (a middle-aged couple on a hike)

Teddi surveys the panorama from the summit she conquered

Across Valcellina gorge, with Giais in left background

The bridge across Lago di Ravedis on road to Barcis

Montereale and Torrente Cellina 

The marker for turnoff to old trail to Malga Fara

Fading fast but this signs the trail to Malga Fara

Monte Raut and Monte Castello in midday sun

Monte Castello and Valcellina east range above Andreis 

Malga Fara with Monte Raut as backdrop

Friday, April 4, 2014

Casa Cadolten

This is a new MTB route up to Il Cansiglio.  It begins in Sonego, a frazione di Fregona, near the left turn for Grotte Cagliaron.   Instead of turning left go straight up the hill on Via Col de Casal.  This is an old dirt road that is so steep they have concreted much of it so the rain doesn't wash it away.  It's so steep after awhile I couldn't climb seated even in the lowest gear, 24x36.  I could climb standing in 24x36 on the concrete but the dirt was too loose to get traction.  So I climbed seated for a few hundred meters, stopped to hyperventilate, then climbed seated some more till I had to stop again.  It was a killer.

Luckily the weather was perfect, cool and not too sunny, which helped a lot.  Finally the road reaches a flattish area around 1200 meters.  The road continues in a rolling profile now, with more concrete on the steeper bits.  Reached my destination Casa Cadolten, a Corpo Forestale outpost.  A little further through the faggio forest I reached the road to Monte Pizzoc and Il Cansiglio.  I put all my cold weather gear back on and descended to La Crosetta and then down to Sarone.  Got scary on the descent when I rounded a curve and some deer were in the road- locked up the rear tire which fishtailed a bit.  The deer hopped over the guardrail and escaped.  Good ride home, though quite warm, so I stripped down to shorts and thin shirt.  I will try this in the opposite direction next time, maybe climbing up the branch from Osigo.   

Just above Sonego, maybe 400-500 meters high

Turn off for descent to Osigo around 650 meters;
today instead I headed uphill

Sant'Antonio chapel around 970 meters
Col Visentin from near Sant'Antonio

Higher up the landscape changes to grassy hilltops

Looking back you see the box canyon you've been climbing up

Finally levels out a little at the trailhead for sentiero 1036a

Casa Forestale Cadolten

High above is Monte Pizzoc

Snowy junction at 1300 meters

The steep section