Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monte Vesuvio Hike

Marilyn, the dogs and I started the Monte Vesuvio hike after parking at end of public road around 850 meters.  We then walked along the limited access road used by tour buses and taxis, not at all crowded on this off-season morning (more about this later).  The paved road ends at 950 meters and becomes a wide cinder track path, very well constructed, which it needs to be given the volume of foot traffic.   Around 1150 meters you reach the crater rim and continue on around.  Great views of the caldera, Sorrento, Capri and even a a glimpse of Pozzuoli and Ischia to the northwest.  Quite a few fumaroles venting today.

This is a road bikeable climb up to end of pavement which I'll return and try someday.  The one caveat when hiking is the tour bus traffic in the afternoon: very heavy even in off-season and quite unpleasant when they corner too close at speed.  A separate walking path is needed from parking to end of pavement.   

View from the rim

Lovely fumarole

Sorrento and Capri

The caldera

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Monte Faito Hike

We took a vacation to Napoli for a few weeks.  I was lucky to find a tour up the spine of the Sorrento Peninsula on Monti Lattari.  The driver ascended a narrow, twisty, steep lane to the trailhead at Pian del Pero.  The transition from sunny shoreline at Sorrento to a misty cool, beech forest was very abrupt.  We began ascending gradually on a CAI trail until we approached the top of Monte Faito and its capstone, the Molare monoliths at 1400 meters, large sheer cubes readily recognizable from Vesuvio and and everywhere else in the area.  From here we made a beautiful descent along the Positano side of the peninsula following a horseshoe-shaped canyon.

I'll add the bike climb up Monte Faito to my bucket list, as our guide Gianna mentioned she had led tours of both mountain bikers and road bikers up the climb with very fast curvy descents.   

Le Molare 1400 meters

View from summit toward Li Galli near Positano

Along the crest of Sorrento Peninsula toward Capri

The canyon toward Le Molare

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Montereale Valcellina

I thought I'd check out the gravel climbing ability of Maxima's 28mm treads so I rode up through Montereale  past Monte Spia and the Osservatorio Astronomico to 773 meters.  The bike worked great though I did have to stop and push a few times when the gravel got deep or too steep.  I returned the way I came until turning left on a trail at 370 meters.  This trail crosses the hill which the last tunnel from Barcis passes beneath.  I had to push the bike and carry it much of the time because it's narrow rocky singletrack.  Eventually I reached Castello di Montereale and then hiked around it carrying the bike (luckily very light).  I hiked down to top of Ravedis dam and then rode home.  Fun!    

From 773 meters our village Giais below

Pala Altei

Grassy pastureland above

Hardy solo trees have survived winter storms

Monte Fara

Monte Jouf

Pala Altei from the east

Lago di Ravedis, water level low

Castello di Montereale ruins

Close up of arco

Long wall on north side

Diga di Ravedis

Lower Lago di Ravedis

Pavement ends at 560 meters

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Strada Bianca

I bought a set of 28mm Pro 4 Endurance tires last month for Fedaia's gravel road riding.  It turns out the steel frame with discs and electronic shifters didn't need heavy tires weighing her down.  Maybe just my imagination built she felt heavy.  So I put the light 25mm Axion tires back on and she made it up the paved climb to Valle Friz no problem.

My other Bertoletti-built bike, the Viner Maxima, is nice and light so adding a little weight was less of a problem.  I did have clearance issues with the front derailleur mounting clamp, but a slight tweak of that and lowering the K-edge chain catcher a tad did the trick.

Headed south of town through the corn fields on our strada bianca.  The bike rode great.  Some friendly guys were bird hunting with beautiful well-trained dogs:  felt like I was back home in Alabama.  I ended up at the roundabout north of San Martino.  Soon I got onto another dirt road and cruised north toward Marsure then home.  The normal beating from the stiff carbon frame was mostly soaked up by the tires.  I'll keep testing.

Take a sharp turn onto this dirtroad after San Biagio

After the roundabout you're heading toward Aviano, but
turn right onto this dirt road for Marsure

The rear is a tight fit

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