Passo Praderadego crosses the steep mountain ridge separating the Strada del Prosecco (between Vittorio Veneto and Valdobbiadene) from the Piave River valley in Belluno. It retraces an ancient Roman road- Claudia Augusta Altinate.
The climb is a bit of a mystery. My old Ediciclo guide says the pavement stops at 600m elevation, then you must turn around and go back the way you came. Some old forum posts I found said the same. But Jerry of Cycloclimbing rode it last year and said the short stretch of dirt road is pretty level and easy to negotiate on a road bike. Only one way to find out- so I set out to try it myself.
Stupendous morning- cool, clear and calm. All the heat and humidity was blown away by a tempesta we had the other night- with hail and rain blowing sideways because of the high winds. The fine weather produced a bumper crop of cyclists this morning- hundreds riding on Via Pedemontane, up through Vittoria Veneto, and west on Strada del Prosecco toward Valdobbiadene. Nice to see so many others who enjoy biking!
I rode down the Strada del Prosecco to Valmareno and hung a right. Valmareno was having a little pedalata, with grandparents, parents, teenagers, small children all riding their bikes together, while police stopped all car traffic. Fun to watch families riding together. The road rises gently through the little village, and then there's a sign pointing to the right for Praderadego. This road gets a bit steeper and soon exits the village. After a few kilometers of approach, you begin 5 km of 10% average gradient, with stretches of 17-18%. I stayed seated on everything below 16%.
There are numerous serpentine switchbacks snaking up the gorge walls to keep the steepness from being even worse. Around 850 meters the road levels off and turns to dirt. It's well-compacted though, and other than the occasional rock or mud puddle is as good as a paved road, even on a bici di corsa. The dirt section is at the base of some spectacular cliffs, with views of more cliffs on the surrounding peaks and in the valley below.
The pavement restarts as the road begins to climb again through dense beech forest to 915 meters. Here the landscape opens into tree-dotted meadows, with a festa today attracting a few hundred folks. One of the stone buildings had a big griglia and people were swarming around trying to get barbeque. I headed down the steep shady lane to Gus, on the main road to Belluno. I originally intended to return by climbing up to Passo San Boldo, but I was behind schedule because I got a late start. I decided it would be faster to ride via Belluno to Sella Fadalto and Vittorio Veneto. It's longer but mainly rolling hills, vs a long climb.
Passo Praderadego is an excellent climb- has a wild, remote feel, yet is close by. I will probably try climbing it from Gus in Belluno province next time. It's less wild but still lovely scenery and should be a great workout.
|Back toward Valmareno, and the hills above Conegliano|
Here's a cool panoramic view: http://www.bellunovirtuale.com/passopraderadego1.html
|Rock face above the gorge|
|Sheer cliffs above the unpaved section|
|Rock formations above the unpaved road|
Some of the steeper bits