Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monte Rest- Sella Chiampon

Passo Monte Rest and Sella Chiampon are two routes to Carnia, a mountainous region of northern Friuli which stretches to the Austrian border. While Passo Monte Rest is a very well constructed road with long switchbacks, grades between 7-9%, Sella Chiampon is a narrow, crooked, steep mountain lane. Doing them both in one day is 2000 meters plus of climbing, so you get a good workout while enjoying the spectacular scenery.

After riding to Meduno, then up past Lago dei Tramonti and Tramonti di Sopra, the climb begins. Great road through forested slopes, with lovely views of the vertical cliffs of Monte Rest- hundreds of meters of bare rock straight up. At the passo I rested a few minutes, then headed down the other side. The north side has fantastic views of the Tagliamento valley and surrounding mountains. The north road has shorter, crooked-er switchbacks and is steeper than the road up the south side.

After crossing the Tagliamento, the road turns upward again for a few hundred meters climb. A lady walking down the road shouted "Coraggio!" to spurn me on. The road then winds down through Socchieve, back across the Tagliamento to Preone and the Sella Chiampon climb.

It's a rough narrow lane through the beautiful forest of Val di Preone. After hanging along the cliffside awhile, the road descends to cross Rio Saezza. Now the fun begins. As Passi e Valli in Bicicletta- Friuli puts it " The climb has an unusual profile, characterized by a stretch of 1.7 km in which you must overcome 4 switchbacks with an elevation change of 197 meters, where the median gradient is 11.6%, rising to 20% at times." I remained seated and ground away at the cranks until the grade hit 14%, then I stood the rest of the way. Luckily there wasn't too much loose stone on the surface and I was able to complete this section without the rear wheel spinning or me falling over. Eventually it eased back down below 10% so I could sit down and start riding normally. This continues until the Sella. Shortly afterwards the forest opens into a lush green valley surrounded by mountains- absolutely gorgeous.

I was ready to coast all the way to Pinzano now, but it wasn't meant to be. At the end of the meadow- the road was suddenly covered with fallen rocks, tree limbs, piles of leaves. It appeared to be closed. I continued along it slowly, dodging fallen rocks. I had to dismount once for a particularly bad stretch of debris. The views were mind-boggling down into the sheer-walled gorge of the upper Arzino. Eventually I reached the junction with the road from Selle Chianzutan, and here there was barrier and notice that the road I'd been riding was closed. Nothing at the other end though! And Via Michelin didn't know either. Turned out ok- and I hope it's just temporary, it's a wonderful road .

From here, zoomed down the Val Arzino through San Franceso, down the tornanti at Anduins, rode the rollers through Pinzano to Lestans. Even got a little tailwind on the flats toward home. Thinking about doing the ride again someday in the opposite direction....

Monte Valcalda from Ponte Rio Novarchis

Rio Novarchis

One set of tornanti on Monte Rest

Looking west toward Cimon di Agar

Northward mountains of Carnia

Fiume Tagliamento

Fiume Tagliameto below mountains of Carnia

Waterfall Rio di Grasia

Looking south up Rio Saezza

Rio Saezza down toward Preone

Meadows after Sella Chiampon

The meadows and surrounding mountains

Ride profile


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