Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Presepio di Lamont

Another perfect day- crystal clear, dead calm, and cold but not freezin'. I headed to Polcenigo and turned off for Coltura, then stood to climb a kilometer of >12%. This levels out for a moment, then you climb a series of 11 switchbacks for 4 km averaging 9%. Finally you reach the flat-to-slightly-upgrade final stretch into Mezzomonte.

At the end of the road I was about to turn around but saw something new- a beautiful presepio on the hillside. Maybe I was high on endorphins from the climb, but the nativity scene seemed perfect here on the mountainside this late December morning. On the ride home I couldn't get this song out of my head:  Amahl and the Night Visitors

Presepio di Lamont

The manger

A couple of wise men and their camels

I see present-day shepherds carrying lambs this way sometimes

Asino in the manger

The three kings

Snowcapped peaks of Giulian Alps to northeast

Monte Canin (2587m) gruppo along the Slovenian border

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buon Natale Monte Valinis

Brisk, clear Christmas morning with no cars on the road.  I warmed up through Meduno and started the climb.  Steep switchbacks to Borgo San Martino then the grade eases a bit, passing through forest and meadows to Forchia Meduno.  A flat-to-easy gradient through Spruce forest to Forchia Piccola, then constant 10% for the next 3km.  From end of the dirt road (997m) you can see the sun reflecting off the Adriatic Sea to the south, and snowy peaks to the west and north.  Quite windy up here, but the bright sun makes it seem warm.  Just being up here is the best gift one could ever receive.      

Monte Cavallo (2250m) and mountains to the west

Monte Raut (2025m)  to northwest

Looking north at Monte Rest (1780m)

North-northeast Monte Valcalda (1908m)

To northeast, Monte Verzegnis (1914m) and Monte Piombada (1744m)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aeroporto La Comina

This has little to do with cycling, though I do ride along the perimeter of this airfield every time I commute by bike to school in Pordenone.   Just after riding past Villa d'Arco there is an enormous flat grassy area on your right.  It isn't obvious it's an airport- there are no concrete or asphalt runways or taxiways.  After a couple of kilometers of riding you do see a few small buildings, and if you look closely there are a couple of light aircraft parked there.  But it turns out this was the first Italian flying school, opened way back in 1910.  That's about the same time the US Army Signal Corps was starting flight training in College Park, Maryland.

La Comina
Very rickety-looking airplane

White markers on the grassy field delimit the runway 

To the west Monte Cesen (1570m) and Monte Visentin (1763m)

Monte Cavallo (2250m) to the north

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Monte Rest Dec 2011

A frigid sunny winter morning- perfect for one last climb up Monte Rest. Easy warm-up through Meduno to Tramonti di Sopra, and commenced to climb. It's a wonderful road, with stacks of switchbacks, streams, waterfalls, and the enormous cliffs of Monte Rest looming above.

The pass was marked Closed on signs at Meduno and Tramonti, but road conditions were perfect up to 975m. Here ice on the road became too pervasive to climb safely with a road bike. The ice appeared to have repeatedly melted and refrozen at night. I turned around and descended. Clouds had moved in and obscured the sun, resulting in half-frozen fingers. Luckily they thawed out on the flattish ride home. I arrived just in time to take the dogs on a walk in the woods, which helped get the lactic acid out of my legs.
Beautiful snow-capped Monte Rest (1780m);
the distinctive peak is visible even from Pordenone

Monte Valcalda (1908m) from Tramonti di Sopra

I made it up this icy stretch to 975m
Decided it wasn't safe to continue on 23mm slicks

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The old commute to work

Marilyn had some Christmas cards that needed mailing, so I put them in my jersey pocket and headed for the airbase post office. I took the old route I used to commute to work back in the late 90's- early 00's. Nice downhill warmup through Marsure and into Aviano. Then down the Aviano-Pordenone highway to the base. The return trip is all slightly uphill, with a couple steeper stretches in Marsure centro and on Via Pedemontane Orientale below the Hotel Royal.

The ride reminded me of riding home at night after swing shift, sometimes accompanied by friends Doug and/or Clint. That was fun. Then I started thinking about the bike I was using to commute back then, a 1995 Pinarello Dyna-Lite. I was a bit crazy to be commuting on a racing bike but at the time I didn't think much about it.

That got me thinking about the rides a group of us old geezers from work used to do on weekend mornings around 2000-2001. We'd meet in Roveredo's piazza and ride all over the area. Lots of good times.

Short ride today, but brought back some long-gone memories- enjoyed that.

ADDED: I'd heard that Dario Pegoretti had welded some of the Dyna Lite bikes in 1995, so I asked over on Velocipede Salon and he confirmed that it was possible he had welded my bike.  Maybe if I save up I can afford one of his new frames- though they're quite expensive now.  The price back then with Chorus gruppo: ₤4,250,000 or about $2,500.  Not sure you can get even a Chorus gruppo for that now, let alone a top of the line frame.

This picture resembles my bike- same color but without the Banesto stickers
and with Chorus instead of Record

Lovely fork crown; I had low-profile Montreal rims instead of Shamal;
the original gruppo and front wheel are now on the Trek 1220 Clint gave me 

Giovanni Pinarello did my fitting;
"Hai gambe corte" he noted reprovingly ;-)

Friday, December 9, 2011

2012 Bucket List

2011 cycling results surpassed all my expectations.  Our lovely weather provided ample opportunities for mountain riding and, other than a brief spell in October, I avoided injury/illness.  As a result I completed some climbs I wouldn't have imagined possible a year ago, including:

Climb                                                      Meters climbed
Monte Crostis from Comeglians            1520m
Vršič - Passo Predil                                1855m
Monte Grappa from Pederobba             1902m
Zoncolan from Sutrio                              1303m
Giau - Staulanza                                      2349m
Mangart                                                    3084m
Tre Cime Di Lavaredo                            1282m
Passo San Pellegrino - Passo Valles    1838m
Passo di Fedaia                                       1078m
Sella Ronda                                              1620m
Passo-Falzarego - Passo Valparola      1701m
Monte- Croce Carnico-Nassfeldpass    2194m
Casera Crosetta                                       3044m

If I had to pick a favorite I guess I'd choose Altopiano Montasio (1515 m high) for the gorgeous approach up Canal di Raccolana, the challenging climb from Selle Nevea to the altopiano, the solitary wildness, and the incredible 360 degree panorama of Monte Canin and other peaks.

Here's some goals for 2012:
Giro delle Pale di San Martino (Passo di Valles, Passo Rolle, Primiero, Passo Cereda, Forcella Aurine)
Bocca di Forca da Possagno
Gross Glockner
Giau da Cortina
Passo di Falzarego da Cortina
Giro di Monte Cristallo da Cortina
Passo delle Erbe (from Corvara via Passo Gardena)

Far-fetched, but we'll see:
Zoncolan da Ovaro
Stelvio da Prato
Gavia da Ponte di Legno
Mortirolo da Mazzo

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Castelli di Caneva e Cordignano

Cold, clear day perfect for a ride. There were hundreds of cyclists on the road, the confluence of splendid weather and an Italian holiday, la festa dell'immacolato concezione. I tried keeping up with a small gruppo of cyclists that passed me, but after a kilometer or so they motored away and I couldn't hang on. Meno male, I needed to save energy for the climb ahead anyway.

Below Sarone I turned right and climbed up to the junction for Il Cansiglio. I went straight at the junction toward Castello di Caneva and then descended to Caneva. From here I took the back way to Villa di Villa, and began the climb up to Castello di Cordignano. The section after the castle has the steepest gradient, approaching 20%, then you descend to Rugolo. Here you join the wonderful cliffside road to Montaner, Osigo and Fregona. The views of olive orchards and prosecco vines on one side, and the steep escarpment of Il Cansiglio on the other are spectacular.

At Fregona I decide to return the way I'd come, instead of descending to Cappella Maggiore as usual. When I returned to Montaner I followed an impulse to try the back road down to Sarmede. I had expected a rough, narrow road but it was quite nice with lots of smooth, sweeping curves. I'll have to climb it in the opposite direction soon- has some very steep sections to surmount.

From Sarmede I continued on the main road along the plain through Caneva and home. Really nice ride- hope to have more like this in coming months.

Ruin of 11th-century Castello di Cordignano 

Montaner, with Col Visentin (1763m) in background

Osigo, backed by escarpment of Il Cansiglio

Looking back at Montaner from descent to Sarmede

View across olive orchards and prosecco vineyards toward Osigo

Steepest stretch above Castello di Cordignano

Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Crosetta

La Crosetta's a perennial favorite- an 1100 meter altitude gain, tortuous curves and continuously varying gradient lead to surprises every time I climb it.  Today was particularly nice because the temps were hovering around 0℃ with no wind, so overheating wasn't a problem- just open a zipper or strip off a layer.  At the top the road was clear but the ground had a dusting of snow, so I decided against continuing up Monte Pizzoc.

The descent was fun as ever, followed by the 20km ride home on Via Pedemontane.  This will probably be my last climb from Sarone to Il Cansiglio this year.  Maybe I'll return in March or April.

Flock of sheep near da Regina between Range and Budoia

A few asini under the pastore's watchful eye

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pala Barzana Fall '11

I looked back through the blog and found I'd climbed  Pala Barzana (842m) from the east only twice this year.  I shouldn't neglect it like that.  So this cold crisp morning I took a spin up through Bus di Colvera, then Poffabro (506m) and over the pass.  It was very quiet and beautiful- no cars at all from Poffabro to Bosplans.  There was frost on all the curves so I descended very slowly.  I don't know if it was because I was frozen, but felt like I was going very fast through the 4km tunnel from Barcis to home.

Probably the last ride over the pass in 2011.  I'll try to visit more often next year!

Monte Raut (2025m)

Monte Castello (1983m)

Andreis (480m) and surrounding peaks

Monte Castello and companions from different angle

Mountains to the west of Val Cellina in background 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ci vediamo, Col Alto

One last ascent of Col Alto before the snows arrive. Sunny and cold out- a perfect day. I cruised down to Pedemonte (164m) and headed up. I was baking by the time I reached Pra de Plana (418m), so I stopped and stuffed my jacket in my pocket. Onward up the steep parts till I finally reached Rifugio Bornass (767m), then onward to Castaldia at 1090m. Here I deviated from the main road to traverse the narrow mountain lane to Col Alto (1368m). Beautiful up here in autumn- for some summer pictures of walking the dogs up here see The pups do Col Alto

After a moment enjoying the peace and quiet, I bundled up and shot down the hill. No cars to slow me down so the curves were quite fun. A quick ride to warm back up on the foothill road home. See you next April!

The bright band on the horizon is the Adriatic Sea
(taken from Castaldia, 1090m)

Looking east toward Slovenia

The 3 peaks above Piancavallo- Monte Tremol (2017m),
Cimon del Cavallo (2251m) and Cimon dei Friulani (2183m)  

Narrow mountain lane winding through karst stone and beech forest