Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anduins Pielungo Campone

This ride contains 2 climbs I haven't tried before (though I have ridden them downhill). The first is from Casiacco up to Anduins- 10 tornanti at 6-8% for 2 km. Not bad, and the scenery is beautiful- numerous white water streams racing down the steep slope toward Fiume Arzino. After Anduins you reach the edge of the gorge of Val d'Arzino. I stood on the pedals often so I could look down at the beautiful emerald and white water churning over boulders far below. At Pielungo, I turned away from the Arzino and up the lonesome mountain road to Orton. It's a long steady climb through beech forest and eroded karst stone formations up to 630 meters. Toward the end the solitude was interrupted by a few cars in an old-timers rally- mostly 1970s Lancia Fulvia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and even a few Autobianchi. After the summit I rolled down to Pradis di Sotto and then headed up again toward Piani di Clauzetto at 670 meters. Then down again along the Torrente Chiarzò, through Campone, to the Meduno River and home. 100 km ride.
Some nice pics of the Val d'Arzino here

Tornanti di Anduins
Ride profile
Elevation Gain:1,176 m
Elevation Loss:1,196 m
Min Elevation:138 m
Max Elevation:658 m

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I've ridden individual parts of this ride before but never altogether. To start I headed up through Bus di Colvera to Poffabro, then down through the Val Muiè to Navarrons- see pictures here: Meduno-Poffabro . Then I rode up the Meduno River road to Lago di Redona and turned right, following Val Chiarzo' past Campone and up over Piani di Clauzetto at 676 meters ( see Orton ). From there I descended to Pradis di Sotto, turned right and climbed back up to Clauzetto (600 meters). Great descent down the Val Cosa to Travesio, then across to Sequals. At Sequals it started raining pretty steady. Wasn't too bad, though my wet socks were cold in the wind. Continued through Arba, Campagna back to our house, and thawed my feet in a warm bath. Great ride.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Magredi

This is another questionable post- it is not about cycling in the Dolomiti Friulane. Instead, it's about cycling in the Magredi (see ) an expanse of dry river beds on the pianura between the Dolomiti and Adriatico. It's covered with rocks torn from the Dolomiti by glaciers, and then strewn across the plain by huge floods. Very desolate, mostly-undeveloped area protected by WWF.
Today was the warmest so far this year, so I wore short sleeves and bike shorts, fingerless gloves, and no shoe covers for the first time since Autumn. Felt great, though rather windy. I noticed several approaching motorists donning protective eyeware upon seeing my unbearable whiteness of being- hopefully I'll turn beige before long, if not bronzato. Oddly all the Italian cyclists I encountered had on long sleeves, long pants, shoe covers, etc. I would have been soaking in sweat with that on.
I headed down to Vivaro and continued almost to Rauscedo, where I got on the new road from Spilimbergo to Zoppola. It is limited access, so no cross-traffic, has a nice bike lane on each side, and is elevated a bit so the pavement isn't washed away by the annual floods. I turned off on the road to Cordenons, then continued through Arco and Roveredo to Castello d'Aviano. From there continued on the climb home. Nice Springtime ride.

The Magredi, with Dolomiti Friulane in background- from internet

Castello d'Aviano- from internet


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pala Barzana

I tried this in February but the road was still snowy above 650 meters (see Poffabro ). So yesterday I was looking around with my binoculars from the top of Monte San Loenzo, saw the switchbacks on the road to Pala Barzana, and thought I'd give it another try.
The road was open all the way to the top and down the other side, past Bosplans, to Andreis and Molassa. Very nice ascent- above 600 meters the road winds through a fir forest, and the fir-needle covered understory and snow soaked up all the sound. Silent except for singing birds. Nice and sunny in the meadow at Forcella di Pala Barzana (842 meters), with Monte Raut towering on one side, and Monte Fara on the other.
Descended slowly, as the road had a lot of cinders and pebbles from the winter, and I wanted to remain upright. After Andreis the road was better and I could pick up speed. Then through the 4 km tunnel under Monte Fara, across the bridge over jade-turquoise Lago di Ravedis, and home. Fun ride.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monte San Lorenzo Hike

Forgive me but this post has nothing to do with cycling. I did see a sign pointing to this hike while riding the other day. And hiking up steep hills seems like good cross-training. That's the only connection I can think of.
I put my two little dogs in their crate and drove to Fratta, a frazione northeast of Maniago. We parked at a little piazzetta at the junction of the road from Val Colvera and the bridge over the Colvera from Fratta. The hike starts inauspiciously in what seems like a dry ditch with paving stones between two houses. But there is a big stone with blue and white stripes, so this is it. At first there are some discarded roof tiles and other rubble in the ditch, and you wonder what you've gotten into. But after a few meters it gets pretty, a nice shady stone path a bit lower than the surrounding land, sunken with the passage of time like still-visible stretches of the Oregon Trail in the American West. The stones are often flat and appear to have been squared off to fit together. This is apparently the remnant of a roman road, which I've read once passed up the valley to Monte Rest and beyond to Carnia. It is a beautiful place in mid-March, covered with wild violets and primule.
Eventually the trail deviates from the road and heads uphill to the left. After much moderate climbing you reach old houses and buildings in a meadow called casera Gravena at 470 meters. There were dozens of bee hives- I'll have to look for this honey at the market. On several trees Attenti al Cane! signs warned of a vicious-looking pastore tedesco with blood dripping from enormous canines. I anticipated grabbing my dogs to save them from the beast. A 3 or 4 kilo fluffy back and white terrier ran out yapping. What a relief!
The trail went right through the property- I walked by two men, one on a ladder sledgehammering a rough-hewn tree limb post into the ground while the other held it straight. I said Bon di! and they replied, so I guess I wasn't trespassing. I'd rather not displease a man holding a 10 kilo sledge over my head. The trail now comes to a dirt road. I missed a turn, so walked along the road for a couple hundred meters to a sign warning Sparo Mine! with blast times. So I turned around and was more careful, finding the unmarked narrow path turning steeply up the wooded slope. It was maybe a 30% grade, and I was grateful for my pups tugging with all their might to keep me from tipping over backwards. It kept on like this for quiet a while, finally breaking into the alpine grass and heather near an angle-iron crucifix.
We rested a bit then continued up the meadow to the chiesetta di San Lorenzo, a 13-century church. It's a lovely spot for a little church out here all alone, with a pretty alter inside. From there the ridge follows a series of whoopty-doos, each slightly higher than the last, so you keep thinking you've reached the top till you get there and there's another behind it. Finally it's the real one at 736 meters. You can go a bit further down slope to a wire marked Ciglio cava. It's a cliff several hundred feet more-or-less straight down, where they've chopped away half the mountain for crushed rock to make cement. Thank God they've stopped before the top and haven't destroyed the chiesetta.
I took some pictures of the fantastic 360º panorama. Monte Jouf above Maniago is to the west, then a few craggy dolomite peaks along the Cellina, Monte Raut, snowy Monte Rest to the northeast, down below Val Colvera, the top levels of Poffabro, the little village of Vals, past Meduno in the distance the castello di Toppo, on the plain, Fanna, Maniago, Montereale. Wow.
We headed back down. The pups were good about not pulling too hard- good thing as I'd probably have toppled down onto them. They got a special treat when we got home for being such great hiking companions.
Roman road
Further up the roman road
Crucifix in heather
Maniago, Piazza Roma
Chiesetta San Lorenzo, 13th century, near summit
The little campanile
Val Colvera
Monte Raut
Wild primule
Wild violets

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monte San Lorenzo, Valdistali

I had an ulterior motive for this ride- needed a brake test for a new front rim. A few months ago on the descent from Clauzetto to Pradis di Sotto, I hit a pointed rock in the road. It blew the front inner tube, which I replaced and continued. I trued the wheel when I got home and didn't see any obvious damage. But in subsequent hard braking during descents, I've gotten bad chatter from the front brake. I substituted my old Campagnolo Montreal wheel (with 1996 Chorus hub) on Piancavallo last week, and had no chatter. So I thought I'd rebuild the Ambrosio Evolution wheel using a spare Mavic Open 4 CD rim I've had in the attic for 10 years, but it's 36 hole, and the 2005 Chorus hub on the Merckx is 32. I ordered a replacement Ambrosio Evolution rim from . It arrived in 2 days, the price was the cheapest I could find online (€24), and they sent me an extra rim! Now that's good service. Maybe I'll use it to rebuild the rear wheel later.
I built the wheel yesterday, using some DT Swiss double-butted 2.0-1.8 spokes I had in the attic- amazingly they were almost the perfect length, though I had to lace them 3-cross to fit. What are the odds with different make/model rims and newer model hubs?
So today was the test- could it handle the mountains?
I warmed up on the plain and turned upward at Fanna. The road is wide and has great switchbacks- it was a good climb, though with many trucks hauling crushed rock from the mine at the top to the cement plant in Fanna. At the crest, 475 meters, I saw the closed road to Chiesa di San Lorenzo, which is a 13th century church. I hear it's a beautiful place, so someday soon I'll try to hike to it via a different route- many pics and info about the Monte San Lorenzo church, Roman road, old houses, and the environment here:
From there I descended on an old mountain road- no switchbacks, narrow and steep. At speed I grabbed a handful of front brake and stopped on a dime. Sped up again and braked the front as hard as I could- no chatter, and so strong I could feel the back tire lift up, which was a little hairy because for a moment I felt like I was balancing on the front wheel on a curvy road with steep drop off to the side. The new rim works great.
Up the Valcolvera, and then climbed up past Frisanco to Valdistali. It's a beautiful ridge road with the plain stretching to the horizon on one side, and on the other, the wooded Val Muiè, with the hillside town of Casasola across the valley. 568 meters is the highpoint on the road.
I turned around at the end of the asfalto and descended to Valcolvera, stopping in Bus di Colvera to take some pictures. It's an awesome gorge, with Monte San Lorenzo on one side, and Monte Jouf on the other. Go see it if you're in the area.
New Ambrosio Evolution rim
Wild primule near Valdistali
Frisanco campanile from the ridge road
Bus di Colvera
Grotto in Bus Colvera

Friday, March 12, 2010


I've ridden up Piancavallo several times, but this is the first time I've done it from Pedemonte, the lowest starting point. This route is also the steepest. As Passi e Valli in Bicicletta Friuli Venezia Giulia puts it "The climb has no introductory stretch- as soon as you leave Via Pedemontana the grade is steep immediately: between Prà de Plana (3.0 km) and Rifugio Bornass (6.6 km) the average grade is 9.6%, reaching 13% at times. Only the last stretch after Castaldia (10.9 km) gets easier at 5.5%, but the average grade until then is 8.5%."
The last two years they've widened and repaved the bottom half (from Pedemonte to Rifugio Bornass) so it is a modern highway now- it was in bad shape previously and the scene of many accidents.
The start is too close to my house to attempt directly, so after a warm up on the plain, I headed upwards. It wasn't too bad at first, but the steep grade never lets up, so eventually I was worn out. The only thing I could think of was to stand up, so I did that for the steepest stretches. Normally I only stand for a hundred meters or so, but this was much longer. But it worked out. The only bad part was when a car would approach from behind and I had to get over in the cinders and little pebbles they put on the road in winter. The rear wheel had no traction because I wasn't seated, so it would spin while I balanced, remaining stationary. Quite an uncanny feeling. At Castaldia the parapendia were flying around, while those who had already landed packed their chutes in the snow. Here the grade decreases to maybe 5%, which was a relief. I continued up through the snowy landscape to Piancavallo at 1267 meters. It was pretty deserted, unlike the weekends when it is packed with skiers.
It was quite cold at Piancavallo (-1ºC) and very cloudy, so after a snack and some water, I headed back down. I kept my speed down because of the frost-heaved pavement, the water, cinders and pebbles on the road, and cars going fast downhill. At Rifugio Bornass I decided to go on the back road to Madonna Del Monte, which is quieter, prettier and felt safer. I was frozen solid by the time I reached Costa and Via Pedemontana Occidentale. Even the 200 meter climb home didn't thaw me out.
I will try again this summer via Barcis, Piancavallo, up over Col Alto (1374 meters) and down the new road (which is better in summer).
Here's a video of Marco Pantani on his winning climb up Piancavallo in the 1998 Giro d'Italia

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Il Cansiglio

This is a tough 1100 meter climb up the face of the mountain above Caneva to Piancansiglio, a largely undeveloped altopiano with meadows and pastureland. The big open area is surrounded by a beech forest to the south and fir trees on the other sides.
The road is very twisty with numerous switchbacks and an unrelenting grade. Definitely makes muscles sore you didn't know you had. To the east, south, and west there are spectacular panoramas to take your mind off the pain on the ascent, but don't look on the descent- I glanced aside for an instant and when I looked back at the road I almost shot over a guardrail. Yikes!
I was completely frozen when I returned to the flatland, and could hear nothing because the roar of the wind had deafened me. By the time I climbed the hills back to our home, I had thawed and was regaining my senses.
I'll try to do this a couple more times this year, but I'll try one of the alternate routes: the Strada della Patriarca from Castello di Cordinagno, the main road from Vittorio Veneto, or the road from Lago Santa Croce to Tambre.
Piancansiglio, with mountains of Belluno
More of the mountain range
Looking east toward Monte Cavallo
The fir tree forest to the southeast

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Giro del Friuli

Woke up this morning and was reading the sports- Lo and behold, the Giro del Friuli is today, and they are doing 5 circuits of the climb from Sarone to Castello di Caneva. So I decided to ride over and watch. I took the back way down through Marsure, Aviano, Budoia, Santa Lucia and Polcenigo because it's all downhill. Hate to admit it but I hurt my legs walking yesterday. The tire shop was workin on my car for a couple of hours so I decided to walk around the perimeter of the air base, about 10 km. When I finished, the area where my quads connect to my torso was killing me. I guess those muscles don't get used much pedaling.

So after Polcenigo I headed up the climb at Sarone. There were lots of people lining the road waiting for the peleton, so I took it easy- didn't want them to mistake me for Andy Schleck or Franco Pellizotti. A race motorcyclist told me "Arrivano" so I pulled over and got out my camera. The riders had just been given their musettes, so they were pretty laid back. After all the riders and team cars passed (with roofs covered with DeRosa, Colnago, Pinarello Dogma, Wilier Cento Uno, Ridley Noah, Kuota, Cippolini, Bianchi 928) I continued on up the hill to the Bivio di Sarone at 200 meters. I waited there with other folks who were riding up on beautiful bikes, or walking from the town below. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Finally the bunch came through on their second circuit and I snapped more pictures. After they were gone I headed down past Castello di Caneva, then down to Caneva. Very nice descent. I headed east on Via Pedemontana Occidentale past Fiaschetti, when a race motorcyclist told me to pull over "A destra" by a farmhouse. A big black malinois barked at my intrusion. A lady from the farmhouse came out to watch the race and after the battistrada zoomed by, there was a long wait. "Che distacco!" she said, wondering where the main bunch was. Finally they came by, faster now because they were on the flats. Again the team cars loaded with bikes zipped by, and I headed on my way.

After riding up/down several rollers (the climb from Caneva to my town is like taking two steps up and one step back down, repeatedly) I was on the penultimate hill, at Marsure. A guy the size of Jan Ullrich on a Pinarello FP was going slow ahead, I passed him spinning and said "Salve!" I then noticed he'd caught back up, and when we reached the last climb (the steepest) he stood and passed. He explained that he'd ridden all the way up the Consiglio and down to Vittorio Veneto and was heading home. I was impressed, and felt bad for making him speed up when he was tired. But it worked out- after the top, he accelerated and I got to draft while he zoomed along about 35 kph. Very refreshing cool down.
Back home I checked the news and found the results of the race:
I was sad to see Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso, or Franco Pellizotti didn't place higher, but maybe they're saving up for later. But it was good to see Italian national champion Pippo Pozzato did well.
Here's the website for the Giro del Friuli

The race report from Velonews:


Italian rider Roberto Ferrari (De Rosa) won Wednesday’s Giro del Friuli in Italy.

A big group of 24 riders couldn’t stay away in the 190km race in the Pordenone region of northern Italy.

With the break neutralized, Ferrari out-kicked Jacobo Guarnieri (Liquigas), with Enrico Rossi (Flaminia) crossing the line third. Italian champ Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) crossed the tape in fifth place.

The 26-year-old Ferrari is on a hot streak, also taking the flowers in Sunday’s GP di Lugano in Switzerland.

The one-day race returned last year following a five-year absence, with Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) taking the flowers. Cyclists cover two laps on an opening circuit around Brugnera, then head north toward a five-lap finishing circuit that includes steep Castello di Caneva climb in the final 10km.

Among the big names were Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), making his season debut after suffering with knee pain earlier in the season, former winner Franco Pellizotti and Ivan Basso (Liquigas).

and some pics:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Osservatorio Astronomico Montereale Valcellina

Another short ride with a good climb, this one only 3 km from my house. After a short jaunt down on the plain to warm up, I headed to Grizzo, then started the climb up Monte Spia. The climb continues, hitting 12% at times. The road dips down to a saddle, where I stopped to take some pics of the Val Cellina. Then up again till Val della Roja, followed by more climbing up to the Osservatorio Astronomico at 670 meters. You can read more about the osservatorio here: Awesome panorama from the hillside by the osservatorio!
Montereale Valcellina from the road on Monte Spia
Looking up the Valcellina- snowy peaks with clouds in the distance
Monte Fara
Osservatorio Astronomico
Montereale with Maniago in background
Malnisio, frazione di Montereale Valecellina
Blooming erica with honey bees
Monument to Sanaa