Sunday, June 19, 2011

Passo Praderadego da Gus

A few weeks ago I climbed from Valmareno to Passo Praderadego- it was fantastic.  But I was fascinated by the descent from the pass to Gus, near the Piave River.  In contrast to the other side of the pass, this road was steep with hardly any switchbacks.  The upper half was engulfed in dense forest, the lower half was steep meadows.  I had to try it.

So this morning I left early and parked at Vittorio Veneto.  I road the Strada del Prosecco to Tovena (239m) and headed up toward Passo San Boldo.  Beautiful climb with 18 tornanti.  I passed a pack of older guys on a club ride.  I could hear them discussing that I was francese.  That was new- I'm usually presumed to be tedesco (German).  At 630m begins a series of switchbacks built into a cliff face with semicircular tunnels drilled into the rock at each end.  Very unusual road.  At the passo (706m) I headed down through beautiful meadowy slopes to 512m, climbed the 10% slope  up to San Antonio Tortal, and then continued down to the main road along the Piave River at Trichiana (347m).

I turned left and headed west toward Mel and a frazione called Gus (love these town names).  At Gus I took another left, toward Carve and Passo Praderadego.  Immediately you hit a 10% wall, which later  hits 14%.  That was a wake-up call.  It mellows then steepens again to 10% for a half km, then 8% for another half km.  I was hanging in there, but I knew what was coming.  After Carve you descend to Valmaor, losing about 70 meters of altitude.  Now the hard part begins- almost a km of 15-16%, with no let up.  I stood, of course, pulling up on the handlebars with each pedal stroke, concentrating on belly breathing and inter-costal breathing, exhaling as completely as I could with each breath, then gasping to fill my lungs as quickly as possible.  This worked and I eventually reached the more-restful 12% section.  After another half km, the grade finally slackened enough that I could catch my breath.  I continued in this mode, briefly enjoying the shady forest until reaching a few more steep ramps before passo Praderadego (915m).

Like last time, there were quite a few people who had driven up and were enjoying pit-cooked barbeque etc.  I began the descent and soon reached the level dirt section.  It was rideable, though with all the rain the mud puddles were larger.  Rejoining the pavement, I descended as quickly as possible down the switchbacks.  At Valmareno I took a left on the Strada del Prosecco and returned to Vittorio Veneto.  Nice drive home with lots of cycling clubs out in force- everyone wants to get a ride in before the rain resumes

Tovena, lit by hole in the clouds, at mouth of the valley

The awesome switchbacks/tunnels at the valley head

Looking back toward Passo San Boldo from San Antonio Tortal

Valmareno from the dirt road below Passo Praderadeo

San Boldo left, Praderadego right

A couple of steep bits above Valmaor

The climb from Tovena and descent to Trichiana

Climb from Gus and descent to Valmareno

Close up of climb from Gus to Valmaor

Continuing from Valmaor to Praderadego

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