Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monte San Simeone 2011

A beautiful Spring day, time to climb one of my all-time favorites- Monte San Simeone.
Long, easy, flat warm-up to Pinzano, then the rollers to Flagogna, and up the Strada di Bottecchia along the Tagliamento.  At Cornino, dozens of grifoni spiraled, glided and swooped along the cliffs of the nature reserve.  Some cruised over me low enough I could distinguish the colors and pattern of their underwing feathers, and their "bald" heads.  I had to pull over to watch this spectacle for awhile to avoid veering over the embankment.

At Interneppo, I turned right and climbed past the butterfly mural houses to the little pass above Bordano at 315m.  Here I turned left and began an easy ascent through the woods.  The road to Monte Feste forks to the left, but I continued more steeply to the right.  After a kilometer or so of prelude, the tornanti up the mountainside begin.  These are long switchbacks that climb at 10-14% along the rocky cliff-face, then double-back in short u- shaped tunnels at the eastern ends.  At the western ends, the road turns back above a vertical drop- off with wonderful views of Bordano, Monte Brancol to the south, and Lago Cavazzo.  This continues uninterrupted up to the transition onto the altopiano.  

The road now meanders its way steeply around and onto the grassy meadows, past a few little stone houses.  A group of parapendio riders ascended the thermals coming off the stone cliffs, starting below me and eventually floating far above in the sky.  At the end of pavement (1206m) I took a short walk up to Chiesa San Simeone, a small stone church dating from 1330.   Hard to imagine people living here back then, hiking the paths all the way up from Bordano, building stone churches, etc.

I rode down clutching the brakes, as the road is concrete and bumpy, with much fallen rock, branches etc.  There are no guardrails so margin of error is zero.  After the little pass at 315m enjoyed some nice fast curves down to Interneppo, then long downgrade to just north of Peonis.  A few rollers from here down through Cornino (grifoni were back in their nests) to Pinzano.  They were repaving the road from Pinzano toward Spilimbergo in preparation for next month's Giro d'Italia.  They also have repaved part of the Strada di Bottecchia- very nice.

Didn't bonk on the remaining flat cruise home, but fighting the headwind was a struggle with my rubbery legs.  I was so tired when I got home I took a hot soak and fell asleep.  Will sleep soundly tonight. 

Chiesa di San Simeone, consecrated in 1330 
Chiesa on the altopiano (1220m),
Monte Lavara (1908m) to the west in background
Looking north across the altopiano toward the summit
of Monte San Simeone,  1505 meters

The climb proper- 886 meters in 10 km, roughly 8.9% grade

Steepest bit is 21.2%, with a couple of near 20% stretches,
and much 12-14%

Good satellite view of altopiano and the summit to the northwest

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