After driving to San Stefano di Cadore I rode the bike east toward San Pietro. I turned left off the main road and followed the steep (8.6% average) grade to Costalta for 4.3km. Costalta is a very pretty hillside town with lovely wooden homes, balconies covered with flowers. From here a flattish road clings to the side of a gorgeous steep valley, to the site of an old sawmill, and now the real climb begins.
The next 2 kilometers you gain 283 meters, averaging 14.2%. I was hanging in there, gasping and blubbering until a baita just below Capella Santa Anna, when the rear wheel lost traction on loose pebbles and I quickly got my foot down to avoid falling. There was no re-starting here on 20% gradient, and I was knackered anyway. I rested a moment then put on my cleat covers and walked about 500 meters. I caught my breath by the time I reached the junction of the road from Valle, and rode the final few hundred meters to the rifugio. The road becomes dirt here and is part of a mountain biking, horse-riding park in Val Visdende. This makes me want to fix up the old mountain bike more than ever.
After returning to Costalta I followed a great road that traverses the mountain side all the way around to Costa, the Strada Panoramica del Comelico, immersed in tall spruce trees, with fantastic views of the valley and surrounding peaks. At Costalissoio I unwittingly followed Strada Provenciale 30 Dir instead of continuing on the more-level panoramica to Costa. So, after a fun descent to Campitello (976m), I began the ascent to Costa.
This climb rises through San Nicolo di Comelico to Costa at 1346m, averaging 8.8% gradient. I rode around the pretty town of Costa awhile, looking for the turn off for Monte Zovo- turns out it was at the last tornante before town (unmarked).
The Monte Zovo road has recently been repaved and the surface is perfect, though watch out for the drainage grates. It is open to the blazing sun, and steep, gaining 450 meters in about 4km. I stopped to walk 3 times when the gradient was too steep/I was too weak. Awesome views from end of pavement at 1837m, and the summit (1943m) after a km of strada sterrata is said to be even better.
Easy roll down to San Stefano and drive home. Must return and ride this again!
|San Pietro from Costalto|
|Danta (1398m) across Val Padola from Costalissoio|
|Candide (1212m) from Costa (1346m)|
|Falling water along Strada Panoramica del Comelico|
|Wildflowers along Strada Panoramica del Comelico|