Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Malga Mezzomiglio

This is about the toughest climb I've ever done. It's just as hard as Monte Dolada (Rifugio Dolomieu) but I struggled more on that one because of the heat. It was actually cold in August today, so heat wasn't a problem.

I started with the easy climb from Vittorio Veneto to Fadalto (487m). It was cold for the first half of the climb because temps were down in the low teens and the shadow of Monte Pizzoc kept the sunshine away.

After skirting the east shore of Lago Santa Croce to Farra d'Alpago, I turned at Villaggio Riviera (450m) and began a series of 9-10% switchbacks up to Pianture (586m). Not too bad. Then you hit a 300-meter long wall averaging 16%, with sections of 18%. I rode this standing, and worked on my breathing. Took awhile but I figured out my diaphragm alone wasn't inhaling enough air. So I began each inhalation with a sharp uplift of my intercostals. That did the trick. I practiced it for the rest of the climb and never ran out of oxygen.

After the 16% stretch, there's a brief 6% false flat, and then a long 2.5 km stretch of 12-15%. This was the hardest part- no relief from the steepness. After another short 6.7% false flat, another 2 km of 8-11%. Then you break out of the dense fir forest and ride an easier 7-8% through the alpine meadows to the end of pavement at Malga Mezzomonte (1279m). Beautiful views of the Dolomiti in Veneto, and the Alpago bowl-shaped valley. From up here Lago San Croce was hidden by the slope, but I did see it through the huge fir trees on the ascent- very pretty!

Fun descent- though I held the brakes pretty tight on the 16% into Pianture. Will definitely ride this again.

Sea of dolomiti peaks 

Yet more dolomiti peaks

Monte Dolada

Beautiful Alpago valley & villages

The conca (basin) of Alpago

Newly-shorn sheep cuddling to avoid the cold

Pond with reeds in the alpine meadow

The gradient averages 9.6%  from km 17 to km 26

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