Sunday, December 30, 2012

Castello di Caneva - Osigo - Castello di Cordignano

Perfect winter day-  headed down Via Pedemontane Occidentale to Sarone.  Lots of cycling clubs out today, including 70-100 GC Meschio guys riding through Giais.  From Sarone I rode up past Castello di Caneva and then down to Caneva town.  From there to Sarmede, where I took Via Fracas toward Fregona.  I ascended this last Spring, but took a right turn and climbed to Montaner.  Today instead I rode through Busa and then up Via Borgo Danese to Osigo.  This was a good climb but not a killer like Borgo Canalet to  Montaner.  From Osigo the main road follows the cliffside to Montaner and then you continue to Rugolo.  Here I turned upward again, on Via Rugolet past Castello di Cordignano.  This is more of a ruin of a castle, unlike Caneva which is quite well preserved.  La Conca between Caneva and Vittorio Veneto is  a great cycling area because there are so many combinations of small to medium climbs you can create.

The ride home surprised me- there are several hundred meters of climbing on the way home so I was happy to have plenty of energy and never got tired.  A good finish to 2012.
Castello di Caneva

Eastern edge of the prosecco wine district

Osigo with Col Visentin in background

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Clauzetto - Orton - Campone

Cold but sunny out, so I left just after 0900 for Travesio.  From there up Valcosa to Paludia, then the road heads up the gorge of tiny Rio Molino.  Around 400 meters you climb above the shadow of adjacent hills and the sun begins to warm you.  The switchbacks end at Clauzetto (500m) where you begin the climb to Orton.  You ascend to Cristo (710m) then down to Orton.  Here you head downhill to Gerchia (517m) and then upward again toward Piani di Clauzetto (665m).

After descending to Campone you reach the coldest part of the ride- the Valchiarzo gorge.  The sun doesn't reach down here in winter so it just stays frozen.  Finally it empties out by Lago di Tramonti, and you skirt the shore to Meduno.  Easy ride home from here.  

Note: I brought my Viner Maxima down from the trainer for this ride.  It felt great- I think this bike just fits me better than the Merckx.  I'm going to leave it off the trainer and try to ride it all winter.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Another cold clear day- headed to Meduno, then Lago di Tramonti, then crossed the dam, pedaled to Chievolis and began the climb.  This road is very cool- lots of hard steep ascents with steep descents in between.  On a near-freezing day like this you end up alternately roasting and freezing.  On the descent down to Lago Ca' Selva I nailed a pothole with my rear tire and thought "That's going to go flat."  But I kept going, across the dam, over the stretch of dirt road, and started the paved killer climb to Panuch.  Then the tire finally went flat so I pulled over to change it.  Quite nippy standing in the shade of the mountain around 0℃ while I changed the tire.  I resumed the very steep ascent, made more fun by a thick layer of slippery beech tree leaves, and periodic drainage grates with 30mm wide slots (must cross at nearly a right angle).  Eventually I made it to the top, gasping the frigid air due to stretches of 20% gradient.  My view of the lake was blocked by beech tree limbs (even when devoid of leaves) so I didn't get a lovely photo of the lake with sun shining on the dam.  After a very slow, careful descent I continued with the fun ride home.

Note:  I think I will make the Merckx into an indoor trainer bike for the winter, and also use it for local flatter rides in summer.  The temporary derailleur hanger is a bit fiddly when changing the rear tire, and I seem to get many more flats in the mountains.    

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monte Valinis (almost)

Short ride to Meduno and then up toward Monte Valinis.  Just after the beginning of the climb a man pointed in the direction I'd come from and teased 'that way it's all downhill for 30 meters.'  Nice workout up to 800 meters or so but then it got too icy where the snow melts and refreezes everyday.  A man was blocking the road with his tractor towing a long beech tree so it seemed like a good time to turn around.  Nice descent and flattish ride home.

12% gradient ice rink at 830 meters

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Valle Pedreit (Mezzomonte)

Mezzomonte is a favorite local climb, a good 2-hour ride after work in summer or weekend mornings.  It's steep enough to be challenging but not so long that you end up knackered.  Today as usual I stood for the first steep half-kilometer above Coltura and then remained seated for the remaining series of switchbacks up to Mezzomonte (475m).  It's a dead end so I turned around to begin the ride home.  A lady joked that I should stop, I'd already won the prize money.  They must find us odd riding up this steep road to their village then immediately returning. 

I stopped by the walled cemetery on the edge of town to see if I could get a photo, and noticed the turn for the cemetery didn't stop there, it kept going.  Intrigued I followed the narrow paved road, which quickly turned steep and began switchbacking.  There are galvanized steel drainage troughs every 50 meters or so, very slippery (I was inattentive and almost fell over in one).  I had no idea where I was headed but the road just kept going up and up- it was clear it was headed for the top of the ridge, which connects Piancavallo and Il Cansiglio.  Above 800 meters there were increasingly snowy patches where small trees shaded the roadway, but with a little care they were easy to traverse.  Finally at a tornante at 890 meters the snow looked like 23mm slicks wouldn't be adequate- I'd need some wider knobbier tires.  So I turned around and gingerly returned to the cemetery, then descended rapidly down the switchbacks.  

On the way home I was climbing the hill toward Budoia when I heard a strange wheezing behind me, similar to the sound the stray cat in our cortile makes.  It got louder and I realized someone was drafting on me and possibly in respiratory distress.  I pulled out of the way and slowed and a fellow in GC Meschio garb passed on my right.  I was very impressed by his bike, a Bottecchia Ottavio carbon frame, handmade by Sarto near Venezia.  Beautiful frame!

Here's a hiking site describing the road I "discovered"- I may try walking it soon with the dogs- they'd love it!

I gave up here at 890 meters

Looking down at the switchbacks on the road down to Coltura

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sella Chianzutan

Coldest day of the year so far but the sun is spectacular and I couldn't resist.  I headed through Pinzano, up the switchbacks to Anduins and then into the gorge of Val Arzene.  The road was closed to traffic by a landslide before you reach Pielungo, so I tried scrambling over the debris carrying my bike.  An Italian hunter asked if I was trying cyclocross instead of bici di corsa and I laughed and agreed.  

I continued to San Francesco where the climb begins.  The road emerges from the shady narrow gorge into bright sunlight with roaring white water of Torrente Arzene in the canyon below-  wonderful scenery.  Higher up you begin a series of switchbacks through snowy beech forest.  It finally reaches the sella, flanked by the peaks of Monte Verzegnis and Monte Piombada.

I froze on the descent and only warmed up a little when I reached the rollers near Pinzano.  By the time I rode through Lestans I was beat and struggled the rest of the way home.  Very glad to have a hot bath and coffee when I got home.      

Monte Piombada (1744m)

Beautiful ice sculptures along the climb

Close-up of ice fall

Rounded shapes of ice formed around a plant's branches

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monte Prat

Nice weather today, but just above 0℃.  My neighbor Nerina saw me getting ready to ride and cautioned me to cover myself well against the freezing air.  This is one thing I love about Italy.  Even if you've lost your grandmother or mother, someone in the neighborhood will speak up and make sure you're taking care of yourself.

I bundled up and rode out through Pinzano to Forgaria.  Here you start the climb up to Monte Prat, the easternmost of the prealpi pordenonesi.  It rises directly above the Tagliamento River, which separates Pordenone and Udine provinces.  The sun was out and glistening on the scenery along the climb.  Above San Rocco beautiful chocolate brown sheep were grazing, and across the road 2 lovely alpine horses with reddish-brown coat and splendid blonde manes were prancing around their pasture.   As I climbed higher a huge flock of griffon vultures circled above the cliffs.  I was surprised, as I thought the thermals the griffons glide on wouldn't rise on such a cold day.  But they were out in even greater numbers than usual.

Past the meadows of Monte Prat I continued on the narrow road to Val Tochel.  It had patches of snow, which grew more frequent until the road was covered with snow around 896 meters.  I put back on my winter gear and headed down.  Great ride- the sun stayed out and the wind was still all the way home.

Val Tochel (896m) dusted with snow

Monte Chiampon (1709m) to north

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giro della camera da letto

Rainy week so I finally gave up, brought the trainer down from the attic and mounted my bike on it.  It's good exercise but I need to move the wheel speed sensor over from the Merckx so I can quantify the effort.  Of course I'll still have the Merckx to ride when weather permits.

1988 Performance Trainer with Minoura magnetic resistance

Saturday, November 24, 2012

La Crosetta

Another favorite prealpi pordenonesi climb- La Crosetta is the southward pass accessing altopiano Il Cansiglio.  It starts below Sarone, a perfect warm-up-ride-away from our house.  From here long steep stretches meander across the mountainside exposed to the sun, but it's no problem on this cold overcast day.  Around 850-900 meters elevation the environment transitions to beech forest, shady and cool.  At 1120 meters you reach the forest station at La Crosetta.  You can continue on to Monte Pizzoc (over 1500 meters high) or down to Il Cansiglio, a beautiful grassy plain surrounded by forested mountains.  Sorry, no pictures today, but you can click on "View full route" and click the "play" arrow to see location vs altitude (or gradient) animation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Passo di Monte Rest

Haven't ridden up Mont Rest since last spring so it felt nice to be back.  All the rain has filled up the waterfalls and they looked great.  The climb gave me a good workout, and at the summit there was absolute silence- very unusual as there was no wind or even birds chirping.  I saw no other bicycles above Meduno, and only one car above Tramonti di Sopra (arriving at Passo di Monte Rest just as I left).  Felt tired on the way home- still haven't recouped training lost while I was healing in September.  I'll try to catch up this fall/winter.

Waterfall on Rio Novarchis
Boisterous falls on Rio Pecol

Friday, November 16, 2012

Monte Jouf hike

I was planning to ride to Monte Rest today, but thought I'd check the news first to see if any roads were closed from landslides, bridges washed away, etc.  Instead I found a news item about rampaging baby bears in the mountains above Maniago.  Intrigued, I decided to head up Monte Jouf to search for bears.

It's possible to climb Monte Jouf with a mountain bike but I don't have one so I hiked it instead.  I drove up to the high point of the paved road from Maniagolibero, parked and set off.  I hiked up the first couple of switchbacks (under construction) then headed up the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) trail toward the summit.  Great trail through beautiful forest, and well-marked though I managed to wander off course anyway.  I couldn't find any of the red & white trail marks on trees or rocks.  No harm done, I found my way back and continued.  The trail gradually became steeper, then even steeper, and again I lost sight of any trail markings.  I rested a moment before heading back down to look for the trail, when I heard a clattering sound above me.   Peering through the tree limbs I caught sight of an elderly man rapidly descending this steep slope with trekking poles.  He seemed to be floating along, barely touching the leaf-cover and loose stones with his feet but rhythmically stabbing at the ground to left and right to keep from tumbling.  I asked him if this was the way to the summit and he asked if I was from Deutschland (I get that a lot) then said the trail led to a "gross haus" and promised it was only 5 minutes away.  I figured at my speed it would take 15, but it ended up being 30.   

Beautiful up here, the forest abruptly ends and it's rolling grassland.  Great views in all directions.  I wandered around awhile but never sighted the bears.   Then it was time to head down and I still couldn't find the CAI trail so I headed down the dirt road.  This would be a fun descent on a mountain bike, but on foot it was quite long.  I wished I had a pair of those trekking poles and could glide down the steep footpath like the old fellow.

Pillows of alpine grass foreground, with Alpi Giulie to northeast

Malga Jouf (the "gross haus") with barn for hay and livestock

Monte Raut towering over Pala Barzana

Remnant of antique teleferica, a ski-lift for cargo used in mountains 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pala Barzana

The torrential rains are over and the flood waters are receding- time to head for the hills.  Today I set out for Pala Barzana, first visit in 6 or 8 months.  A shame to visit so infrequently- Pala Barzana is one of the classic Prealpi Pordonesi climbs, along with Il Cansiglio, Piancavallo, Monte Rest, Sella Chianzutan, Monte Prat.  It's very close to home, yet feels like remote wilderness.   

Torrente Cellina was still unusually full of water, as was Bus di Colvera.  All the streams along the climb were foaming and surging with runoff.  Luckily there were no landslides or washouts.  Part way up the climb from Pian delle Merie toward Pala Barzana there was a bad slump in the pavement, maybe a couple of feet vertical drop- no problem ascending but if you were descending fast it might cause a crash.  

Descent to Andreis wasn't bad, but when you reach SS251 the road to Molassa is closed.  I was thinking of riding down there to check out Forra del Cellina, but it's impassible.  The 4km tunnel was fine, just some water half-way across the lane in a few spots.

Traditional mountain house in Bosplans: to go from room to room you must go out
on the wooden balcony- same to go up/down stairs.  That would suck in winter.
Wooden slats are for drying hay

Cloudy rugged peaks north of Bosplans


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Col Alto (almost)

A warm sunny day and no school so I decided to try my first big climb of autumn.  I got a late start because I stayed up in the wee small hours of the morning watching election results, so I wasn't sure I'd have time to reach the top and return home.  I kept a steady pace up the mountain until the steepest section, between tornanti 6 and 7 below Rifugio Bornass.  There I had to stand for the 13-14% stretch and was breathing very hard.  Afterward I returned to slow, steady, and seated.

At Castaldia I had to decide whether to go to Piancavallo, Col Alto, or just turn around.  It was getting late so I decided to continue part way up to Col Alto.  I rode up the long traverse to Candaglia (1179m) took some pictures and turned around.  Tried not to go too fast on the way down- hard not to on this wonderful road.

Candaglia, toward Casera Barzan

Fontanuzze with autumn colors; Alpi Giulie in background

Monday, November 5, 2012

Forgotten cycling gear

A few months ago I drove over near Slovenia, parked and got ready to ride, when I realized I'd forgotten my tire changing levers and wouldn't be able to fix a flat.  I abbreviated my originally planned ride, and luckily avoided a flat.  A few other times I've forgotten my cell phone or gloves or sunglasses but rode without them.

But the last week or so I've noticed two cycling bloggers who both forgot their shoes and ended up riding on clipless pedals with street shoes.  These are experienced racers, so I'm taking it as a sign.  If I was in the Air Force again I would make a checklist and tick off the items before departing.  On second thought I'll probably keep looking over my gear just before leaving and hope for the best.

Monday, October 29, 2012

First snow

I saw the snow on the mountains behind our house when I woke up,  and later went outside to check the temperature.  My neighbor Nerina asked if I was going riding up there (pointing toward the mountains)-  after 16 years she can read me like a book.  I warmed up via Ponte Giulia (by Vajont) and Ponte Ravedis near Montereale, then began my first steep climb in 2 months.  Despite the 20 km warmup I felt a twang in my right shoulder ligament pulling up on the bars while climbing the 12% above Motel Spia.  After that everything felt fine.  Sunny and cool, autumn colors looked great and the only snow I saw was on Pala d'Altei high above.  At the astronomical observatory (685m) I turned around and coasted back down.  Nice ride!

Pala Fontana from my bedroom window early this morning

Valfredda (left), Pala d'Altei (right) 

Alpi Giuliani to northeast from observatory

Montereale Valcellina, Ponte Giulia far right background

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Parco San Valentino- Pordenone

Beautiful warm day so I biked to school for a change.  22 km of downslope, takes me 45 minutes going easy.  I arrived in Pordenone with 45 minutes to kill so I wandered around Parco San Valentino taking pictures.  After school the ride home is all slightly uphill, with a warm October breeze from the northeast.  Took about 90 minutes to get home.  I'll try to commute twice a week weather permitting (I'm a wuss about commuting in the rain).

Red leaf tree

Yellow leaves of sycamore tree

The pond and its surrounding wood

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meduno-Colline di Sequals

Beautiful warm sunny day- rode slightly up grade northeast to Meduno, then south to the colline di Sequals, a small range of morainic hills.   After the pretty town of Sequals, headed west through Arba, Maniago and home.

View northwest from the colline toward Monte Caserine Alte 2306m

Looking east toward San Nicolo

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Valcellina is another great local training ride.  Starts 4km from home at Montereale, with a gradual climb up through the 4km-long Monte Fara tunnel to Andreis and Lago di Barcis, then up the spectacular Cellina gorge to the turn off for Claut.  Or you can continue on to Cimolais and beyond if you wish.  

Today I got a late start because I was helping my neighbor stack firewood, so I turned around just past Cellino, where the gorge widens out and the river bends sharply east  toward Claut.  I love this spot because the river seems to always have fog rising off it here, which on the coldest winter days condenses and freezes on tree branches above the water, forming beautiful glass-like sculptures.  Also here- a big stand of river-bottom vegetation- very unusual around here.  

Looking back down the Cellina toward Monte Provagna

Looking over riparian flora toward Torrente Cellina,
with Monte Diasup in background

Nice panoramic view of Valcellina and mountains

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dardago - Val di Croda

This is an excellent local practice climb- a 10 km warm up to Dardago, then a gradually increasing slope: first a bit of 5-6%, then a long stretch of 7-8%, followed by a healthy portion of 9-12%.  Toward the end it settles down to maybe 6% briefly before turning to gravel.  The setting is lovely of course: trees and cliffs, looming mountains, and today a pretty young lady with long reddish-brown hair descending on her mountain bike.  I took it easy on the descent, struggling to overcome my kamikaze tendencies.  There was one long straight stretch where I spun out the 11-tooth cog, but I forced myself to brake and slow down afterward.
A portion of Croda di San Tomè cliffs- to get the full picture I'd need my hiking boots

Description of some Bronze Age artifacts found in the area

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meduno - Navarons - Bus di Colvera

We've had torrential rains this week so I was curious how full the narrow gorge at Bus di Colvera would be.   Just for variety's sake I rode the loop counterclockwise this time.   I started on the easy upward grade via Fanna to Meduno.  From here rolling hills to the turn for Navarons.  The road dives down to the bridge over Torrente Meduna, then steeply upward to Navarons.  From here saliscendi along Torrente Muiè, past Casasola steeply up to the junction below Poffabro.  Fast slight downhill along Torrente Colvera, then turn right on to the old road just before the tunnel.  This is Bus di Colvera, where the wide whitewater suddenly narrows to 10 feet through tall rock walls.  The rock has been carved into dynamic fluid sculpture, mirroring the eddies and hydraulics of the current.  After passing through the tunnel gap you continue down the Bus under sheer rock-climbing walls.  The old lane rejoins the wide modern road as it exits the tunnel, then you descend steeply to Maniago.  Easy ride home, with a diversion along Valcellina and Ravedis bridge.     

A cylindrical cavity, 5 meters in diameter and 10 meters deep,
where the turbulent torrente shoots into Bus di Colvera 

Torrente below high cliffs of Monte San Lorenzo 

Close up of cascade in torrente

More whitewater downstream