Friday, November 12, 2010

San Martino di Chies d'Alpago

It's rained for two weeks straight.   Today it was foggy and drizzly here, but the  forecast called for clear skies in Alpago.

I drove to Vittorio Veneto (overcast) and warmed up on the climb to Lago Santa Croce.   Sure enough coming over the pass, the skies and lake were bright blue.  I rode along the east bank of the lake to Puos.  Up through Cornei, and then started the climb toward  Chies d'Alpago.  At the turn for Chies, I went straight, continuing up the grade to Lamosano at 700 meters.  It's a nice wide smooth road with 8% grades and many switchbacks.

The views from Lamosano are wonderful.  Alpago is a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, with reflections on Lago Santa Croce far below.  The valley is covered in steep meadows full of sheep, as well as groves of faggio and fir trees.   In every direction picturesque villages cling to the sides of steep slopes, in each a lovely church with Austrian-style steeple.  Really gorgeous.

After Lamosano I continued upward steeply on 10-12% switchbacks to San Martino at 860 meters.  Did a lot of standing on this section.  After passing through the village I saw a sign pointing the way to my objective, La Carota.  It's a rifugio on the road up to Monte Dolada, the climb that kicked my butt back in July.  On Google Maps I'd seen a several- kilometer-long, cliff-hugging road connecting San Martino with La Carota.  I didn't know if it was paved or dirt, but I wanted to find out.

The narrow mountain road comes out of San Martino with steep switchbacks heading up slope.  I stood and was surviving until the 24% ramp began.  I struggled best I could, but it went on and on and wouldn't end.  Finally I could go no further and stopped to recover.  After a few minutes I stopped hyperventilating and tried to figure out how to restart on this slope- the road was too narrow to go cross-slope long enough to clip in and turn upward.  So I put on my cleat covers and walked a couple of hundred meters up to a semi-level spot.

From here the road passes through a forest of tall fir trees.  It alternates between level stretches and short steep bits.  At one point the road was completely covered with rocks which the heavy rains had carried down from above.  I stood and crossed it, then greeted some folks who were loading their trailer and tractor with firewood.  Shortly after I could feel the rear valve stem thumping- the rocks had flatted my tire.  So I changed the tube and started again.  A young lady walking a cute whiskery black dog walked by, and then the pavement ended  at 1020 meters.  Maybe in dry summer this would be possible on a road bike as the slope wasn't bad, but I wasn't  going to try it after the flat.  Plus I had gotten a late start, and didn't want to ride down to Vittorio Veneto in the dark.

The ride down was fun, and allowed me to catch my breath.   Once I reached Puos, I bored down and tried to ride as fast as possible to beat the darkness.  I reached the car around 1700, which is just after sunset this time of year.

Good ride, and I saw several other variations to try.  From San Martino there's a road to Col Martino, 1000 meters.  From Lamosano another road goes through Funes to Caserne Crosetta at 1156m, and another connects to Irrighe and Tamera, then Casera Cruden at 1093m.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Bill

    Hi, glad you had better weather for this ride. It sounds like a lot of fun.

    I have finally replaced my bike seat, and so far, it seems more comfortable for my older bottom. I've also got a helmet and some gloves. I'm all set to go when we get to the Smoky s and then on to the coast.

    Take care & love,