Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Passo San Pellegrino - Passo Valles

Passo San Pellegrino is on the western border of Belluno province and Trentino Alto Adige.  It's a longish pass, starting at Cencenighe Agordino (774m) and climbing 18 km to San Pellegrino at 1918m.

At the start there is a long tunnel "delle Anime," which is narrow (given the trucks and buses that traverse it), poorly lit, and runs steeply upward for 1140m.  So I opted to follow the advice of the Ediciclo guide and bypass the tunnel using the old road along the river, which has a shorter, unlit tunnel of its own.  At first there were lunettes allowing natural light in, but these stopped after awhile, and a curve in the tunnel behind left me completely in the dark.  I stopped for a moment so my eyes could adjust, and then I could make out a faint glow far ahead.  I rode slowly toward it, and as the tunnel continued to turn, I eventually could see the opening at the far end.  I need to get a tiny headlight for these occasions.

It's a nice climb up the valley through the little towns of Canale d'Agordo, Falcade, and Falcade Alto.  After these the road heads into dense spruce forest with a series of short steep switchbacks, increasingly more difficult until you hit a healthy stretch of 18%.  After that the gradient mellows to 8-10% until the passo.

The passo is a lovely meadow area , though there are numerous ski lift operations and tourist places along the road.  I found a little side road marked Rifugio Cima Uomo and rode into the pretty meadows a bit- very nice once you get away from the main road.

Returning to the main road, I coasted down the hill until 1400 meters, and then on an impulse turned uphill toward Passo Valles.  I had no idea how far away this was nor how high, but thought I'd climb till I was tired.  The pass turned out to be about 7 km away, and 2032 meters high.  The meadows here were even more spectacular, stretching for miles.

Now I was tired and coasted back down the hill to Cencenighe Agordino.  It was much warmer when I arrived down there around noon (in the high 30's).  These are wonderful climbs in great scenery- try them if you're in the area.

Note: installed a new Michelin Lithion 2 tire on the back wheel yesterday before the ride.  The previous Krylion (installed January 2011) was worn down to the threads almost all the way round the circumference.  Decathlon was out of Krylions (which rode well and resisted punctures), but had Lithion and Vittoria (can't remember the model but they had red tread).  Will see how long these last.

West from Passo San Pellegrino toward Moena

Mountain ridge to north of Passo San Pellegrino

Wildflowers along the descent

Close up of wildflowers

The meadows to east of Passo Valles

Rocky peak above the meadows

The thinning forest transitions to grassland

View to southeast from Passo Valles

Falcade and Falcade Alto from the Passo Valles climb

Falcade close up

GPS track of climbs

Altimetria Passo San Pellegrino

Altimetria Passo Valles

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