Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kolovrat da Kobarid

Drove to Ponte San Quirino east of Cividale, and rode up beautiful Valli del Natisone to Slovenia.  Wide smooth road through the forested hills along the river, completely deserted at 7 AM today.  Maybe later in the day it's more crowded.   Very easy rolling warm-up- I think it gained only about 100 meters in 20 km.  Once in Slovenia the valley opens into wide green meadows, morning mist rising, foals following their grazing mothers.  I stopped to take a picture and heard some scurrying in the brush- a pair of yearling deer appeared.  This area of Slovenia is really gorgeous.

You leave the Natisone River behind and now approach the Soča River (Isonzo in Italian) at Kobarid.  This town was the site of a big turning point in World War I.  The Germans (and Austro-Hungarians) found a weak spot in the Italian defenses and broke through.  The entire Italian army then had to fall all the way back to the Piave River (in Veneto) to establish a new defensive line.  I skirted the west side of Kobarid and arrived in Idrsko.  Here the climb to Kolovrat begins.   

From Idrsko (210m) up through Livek to Kolovrat the road gains 930 meters of elevation in just over 10 km.  The first 4 km to Livek (690m) are the worst, with numerous stretches above 14%.  I stood on these steep sections, panting and gasping.  Luckily it was quite overcast so I didn't overheat.  On a bright summer morning this sun-exposed slope could be tough.

At Livek the road actually gets flat for a few moments.  Beautiful houses with wooden balconies covered in geraniums here.  Now the road turns upward again, but for the most part stays between 10-13%.  Still hard, but I could remain seated and breathe.  Near Monte Kuk the road tops out at 1148m.  Now it continues rolling up and down along the ridge of Kolovrat.  A small cadre of cows grazing along the narrow road were blocking the way, so I tried to gently encourage them to gather on one side or the other.  They got spooked and started trotting along the road.  I tried to reassure them of my harmless intentions ("I don't even eat hamburgers!") but couldn't sway them.  Eventually a gap opened and I accelerated through.  Felt bad about making them move several hundred meters down the road, but hopefully they found some good forage there as well.

Now the road curves west and climbs up into Italy at Solarie.  I began a wonderful counter-clockwise circuit along the side of Drenchia's bowl-shaped valley, then through Cras and steeply down the smooth, steep switchbacks to Clodig.  From here a gentle downhill ride to Ponte San Quirino.   Great climb and a fun ride.

Sorry for lack of fotos- camera battery died before Kobarid.

Misty cliffs above meadows in Slovenia

Little deer in woods near the meadow's edge 

Broad meadows stretching west from Kobarid toward Italy

Little farm below hillside

 4 km of 11% average gradient Idrsko to Livek

3 km of 10% average grade Livek to Kolovrat

14% stretches up to Livek / 12-13% bits up to Kolovrat

Map of climb from Walks of Peace in Soča Region

Map of the ride

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