Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nevegal - Valmorel - Passo San Boldo

I've been hearing rumors of a road connecting Nevegal with Passo San Boldo for a year or two, so today I thought I'd check it out.  I warmed up from Vittorio Veneto to Lago Santa Croce, with lots of weekend warriors out for their weekly assault on the climb.  I felt sluggish for some reason- I think this may be the slowest I've ridden up this easy hill.  At 0830 even in this shady gorge it felt warm and humid.  After Sella di Fadalto I cruised along the west side of the lake and felt a little more lively.  After the lake is a left turn signed Nevegal, which climbs steeply at first up through Vich to the main road from Ponte nelle Alpi toward Nevegal.  Here you begin a nice moderate climb, with long 7% straight stretches through pretty grassy meadows.  Definitely easier than the steep climb from Belluno to Nevegal, though that one is shadier.  Soon the sun was beating down and I dreamed of reaching the shady forest above.  

The road from Belluno and the road I was climbing meet in a traffic circle just below Nevegal at 987m.  Just after the circle is a turn off to the right toward Ronce.  Thankfully this road (Via Col de Gou) dives into the spruce forest almost immediately.  It snakes along the mountainside, finally reaching a junction, with Via Ronce to the left.  Via Ronce is a very fine dirt road, hard-packed and pretty much rockless.  It passes peacefully for 2 km through the dense forest until reaching a little cluster of houses in a sunny meadow, where it meets Via Piandelmonte.  Somewhere along here the road reverts to asphalt.  The landscape opens up into broad green pastures, surrounded by spruce-covered mountains.  The road descends steeply, with switchbacks and gorgeous views of the valley of Tassei (568m).

During this long descent I came across numerous riders ascending in the opposite direction.  Some of them were really suffering the steepness and heat.  I thought to myself "I'm glad I'm going this way instead," forgetting I would soon have to climb a similar slope on the other side of the valley.  So now I was struggling up that slope, exposed to full sun, till finally Via Tassei ended at Valmorel (806m).   Here you turn left on Via Valmorel, signed Sant' Antonio Tortal and "Al Peden" cucina tipica, then later becomes Via Peden.   More saliscendi and beautiful panoramas, and then you begin the plummet down to Sant' Antonio at 507 meters.

After Sant'Antonio another long gradual ascent to Passo San Boldo at 706m.  A guy in a bright red Ferrari accelerated loudly to pass me, which I thought was odd since I was only going 10-15 kph.  I think he was just having fun revving it up, like a kid with a motor scooter.  At a subsequent bridge he stopped dead in the middle and was afraid he would scrape his paint on the railing.  All the people backed up in the other direction were motioning to him to let him know he had plenty of room, but he was frozen with fear.  Somehow he summoned the courage and finally crawled through, with at least a foot of space on each side.    

Heavy traffic on the descent so not great fun, but no big deal.  I was hot and tired and just wanted to finish.  Soon enough I was back in Vittorio Veneto.  But now the question is, what will this ride be like in the opposite direction?

Via Ronche strada bianca through the spruce forest

Valley of Tassei from Piandelmonte

Tassei from descent of Piandelmonte

Close up Tassei

Via Peden toward Sant' Antonio Tortal

Gentle switchbacks down to Sant' Antonio

Beautiful mountain lane from Nevegal to Valmorel

Descent to Sant'Antonio Tortal

Nevegal left, Valmorel middle, Passo San Boldo right

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