Saturday, April 2, 2011

Avasinis - Monte Prat

Warmest day of the year so far.  After a long flat warm up through Arba, Sequals, Lestans I started the rolling section through Valeriano, Pinzano, Flagona.  Then the lovely ride along Fiume Tagliamento, past the grifone refuge at Lago Cornino, and up the Strada Bottecchia where Italy's first great cycling champion trained.

The next stage starts briefly after the left turn for Avasinis (190m).  There's a sharp left onto a road labelled Val Leale.  Immediately you hit a 400m wall of 14%.  This eases briefly and you can enjoy the lovely scenery.  But not for long- now comes a 750m ramp averaging 14%, with some bits at 18%.  The shady upslope side of the road is covered in wildflowers demanding to have their pictures taken.  The trouble was restarting on the narrow 14% lane with a wall of rock on one side and a gorge on the other.  I finally was compelled to ride back downhill to a little crucifix along the road (memorializing previous cyclists who perished trying to climb this?) and turned around.

After this ramp, a series of tornanti varying pitch from 9-14%.  I tried to get a picture though the trees of beautiful blue Lago di Cavazzo, but the branches were always in the way.  At 750 meters the road enters a meadow with a few farm houses and beautiful 360 degree panorama.  I tried to capture the northern 180 degrees of this- my apologies for the haze.

The road then re-enters the forest and tilts upward again, peaking in a 250m ramp of 18%.  I resorted to standing, gasping, sputtering to surmount this.  Don't bother trying to swallow- just let the saliva spew when you exhale.  Plus you can wear your spit beard as a badge of courage as you greet riders arriving up the easy side from Monte Prat.  There were actually 4 of them coming from that direction, one mountain biker (with helmet camera to capture the descent I'd just died climbing), and 3 road bikers (a young guy, a young lady, and an older guy).

The peak is 912 meters, with a nice view of the back of Monte Cuar's east peak and Monte Covria on the other side of the pass.  You then descend through Cuel di Forchia pass to Val Tochel.  Now you join a twisty narrow road through forest to the meadowy altopiano of Monte Prat.   After the meadows a wide, well-paved road snakes down to Santo Rocco, then a bit rougher down through Forgaria, and finally more curvy, smooth pavement down to Val Arzino.

Here I started the 40km ride home into headwind: first 6 rollers to Valeriano, then a long mostly flat denouement.  Surprisingly I didn't bonk here (thanks to several liters of tea with honey and lite salt- heavy to carry, but worth the price).  This fascinating climb was featured in the 2006 Giro d'Italia- a great mix of physical challenges and beautiful scenery.   Highly recommended.  


Despite the 14% grade, had to stop for this bouquet of primule

Not sure which variety of wildflower this is,
but it caught my eye

More primule, with violete

Panorama northwest from meadows at 750 meters

Panorama northeast 

East peak of Monte Cuar from the 912-meter pass,
  highpoint of the climb
Climb starts upper right, ends lower left


On left, descent from altopiano di Monet Prat, 
to San Rocco, Forgaria and Val Arzino


Gradient showing the 14% to 18% pitches



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