Saturday, March 31, 2012

Monte Rest

After a fast warm up through Meduno I headed up the Meduna river gorge.  Around Lago di Tramontina I noticed the normal haze was thicker than usual, and as I continued north I realized it was smoke.   It got thicker and thicker until Tramonti di Sotto, where I began to worry it would irritate my lungs too much when breathing hard on the climb.  The smoke seemed to come from the forested mountains east of Tramonti di Sotto.  Then I noticed a helicopter repeatedly dumping water tank loads onto the slopes.  I continued and the smoke grew less thick toward Tramonti di Sopra.  I started the actual climb after Mangon, and soon the smoke disappeared altogether.

This is a wonderful climb, not too steep, ascending well-engineered tornanti through a deserted, silent forest with huge cliffs looming above.   At the top (1080m) it was windy, and being wet I quickly got cold.  Quickly pulled on my mantellino and headed down.  The Viner is descending better and better (or I'm getting used to it).  From Mangon I rode home fast as I could, with a fortunate tailwind from Cavasso Nuovo to home.  My friend Silvano was visiting and saw my new bike for the first time- he liked it.

News about forest fire:

The choking smoke at Tramonti di Sotto 
Helicopter scooping up a load from Torrente Meduna

At the start of the climb the top of the cliffs loom above

The series of tornanti

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barcis-Col Alto

I tried the climb from Barcis to Piancavallo and Colalto last July, but it was closed above Pezzeda (600m) for repair.  I read on  that it was open again, so I gave it a try.

Easy warm up to Barcis (400m) and then the climb.  The first set of tornanti seemed fairly easy, but later the second and third sets of tornanti gave me a good workout.  Normally-noisy Torrente Caltea was silent until 700m, and even then much diminished.  We need rain badly!

The road was practically deserted through the silent forest, sunny and not too cold.  At Colalto I put on my mantellino and headed down.  I'm getting accustomed to the Viner's handling- the steering's a bit quicker than the Merckx so I must remember to adjust my technique on the fast tornanti.  Very fun ride!

Saw this unusual plant along the lane around 1000m
This tree's flowers look a little like pussywillow.
Not sure though.

Ride counterclockwise

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Col Alto

First big climb of the year, and a chance to try out some changes I made to the Viner Maxima.  After a brief flat warm up, I turned upward at Pedemonte (155m).  I climbed seated except for the extra-steep 14-15% section below Bornass.  At Castaldia (1100m) I turned onto the mountain lane for Col Alto.  Beautiful alpine meadows in the warm March sun.  I definitely felt rusty- haven't been climbing enough lately.

The descent was fast and fun.  The 11-tooth cog was great- never ran out of gear between tornanti.  
The snowless summit 1374m

New 11-29 cassette, medium-length cage derailleur,
Record chain.  Not shown new Campy Pro-Fit pedals 

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I changed the Merckx's pedals and my cleats this morning and started working on the Viner as well, when my neighbor Nerina asked from her balcony if I was going for a ride. I wasn't planning to but she pointed out the weather was splendid and I needed to mantenere forma, and soon I couldn't resist. So I tried out the pedals with a quick ride up Mezzomonte and back. I felt great and had a wonderful time. Nerina was absolutely right- I needed a ride!

The lovely well-paved switchbacks

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Val Margons

I had a few hours to kill before a doctor's appointment, so headed up the Valcellina to Claut.  It's a nice gentle grade.  At Claut I still had 20 minutes left before my turn around time, so I proceeded through Lesis toward Sorgente della Cellina.  Last time I was here the pavement ended and you continued on foot, but since then the pavement has been extended.  I still had 10 minutes to burn so I headed onward.  

At first it was a rolling road following the contours along the Cellina's headwaters.  Then suddenly it shot upward in a series of very steep switchbacks through beech forest.  Now I couldn't stop- had to see where this went.  It topped out at Pian de Cea (915 meters), where the pavement changed to gravel.  This road goes on to Forcella Clautana, then down to Lago di Selva and Valmeduna.  Last year a mountain biker, Ermiono, told me he'd ridden over the pass, but had to walk a few times.  So maybe I'll try to see how far I can make it next time.

On the ride home I bore down and rode as fast as possible to make up for my unplanned diversion. 

Peaks above Cimolais across Pian Pinedo

Steep switchbacks climbing out of Val Margons up to 900 meters

Erica blooming along Valcellina

Claut through Lesis to Val Margons

Close up of switchbacks

A kilometer of 12% average gradient

A couple of the steeper spots

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Budoia Roveredo Marsure loop

Trying a new training plan.  Between climbs I'm going to try to do flattish rides to help recover/improve etc.  So far it seems good.  As you can see it's still almost 1000 feet of climbing, but even my commute to school has that.  It's just a side benefit of our location.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


After 2 rainless months, Sunday and Monday we got a little rain.  Now today it's clear and warm again.  I took off across the plain toward Sequals then on to Pinzano.  From here some rolling hills down to Torrente Arzino at Casiacco, and a lovely stack of switchbacks up to Anduins.  The twistiness continues up along the ridge line toward Vito d'Asio, and then Clauzetto (565m).  Then down more switchbacks to  Torrente Cosa, on to Travesio and then a tailwind all the way home.  Beautiful wildflowers all over today:  white and violet crocus and bucca di neve on the roadside after Lestans, buttery yellow primule on the slopes of Anduins and Vito d'Asio, and violets practically everywhere.

Campanile at Clauzetto from the switchbacks far below

The bendy stretch from Casiacco to Travesio

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Via della Centrale

I was walking the dogs yesterday and was surprised to find our favorite quiet country road has been paved.  I've walked our previous terrier Rocky and the present 2 pooches on this road for 16 years.  It's a mixed blessing of course- the dogs will stay cleaner in rainy weather and I'll have a shorter route to ride to and from school.  But on the flip side we may get more car and truck traffic now.  The road has always been quiet, almost like a hiking trail, so I hate to see that change.  

Anyway today I rode the Trek 1220 down to the library to return The Black Banners, and then continued to Pordenone (Bricofer DIY store) to buy a sprayer for the hose (the previous one shattered in the February Freeze).  I returned home via the newly paved Via della Centrale.  Hope traffic stays as light as it was today.

The intersection with SR251 

The quiet country road near our village

Below town the road skirts our wooded colline,
then crosses fertile fields until joining SR251 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pala Barzana 2012

Quick ride from Poffabro over Pala Barzana to Andreis.  The south tunnel by Maniago is under repair, so they have an alternating timed stoplight to permit one direction at a time through the tunnel.  I bypassed the tunnel by riding up through Bus di Colvera, as usual.  Be careful if you are climbing from Andreis and descending toward Poffabro- lots of woodcutting debris in the road.   Didn't see any other bikers and maybe 2 cars all the way over the pass.  Very peaceful at the top, with only the wind in the trees and birdsong.

Twisty climb, right to left

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Installed a Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow on the bike yesterday so today is test time.  Cruised from Vajont down to Vivaro on the lovely arrow-straight, slightly downhill highway.  The new saddle felt great, reach to the bars was just right, and even the new front bearings seemed smoother ;-)  At Vivaro I headed west across the barren Magredi della Cellina and soon arrived in San Foca.  From here a short flat spin to Sedrano, where I turned north on the main road to San Martino.  Here I took a bumpy shortcut along an irrigation canal, then the main road toward Aviano.  I turned north at Via Wassermann to Marsure and headed uphill toward home.  Decided on the climb home I'll need to scoot the seat back a few mm.  Also I'm not gonna cut the seat mast- it's perfect as is.  What are the odds someone's custom-built bike from Italian E-bay fits me perfectly?   We'll find out for sure in the mountains in the months ahead.

The new saddle
Go clockwise

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I was thinking about where to go this morning when it dawned on me- I've never ridden up to Vals from Val Colvera.  I'd ridden down from Vals a few times but never up.

I cruised up to Meduno, then crossed the river below Navarons.  I started the climb out from the river when 2 older fellows on mountain bikes zoomed by me.  They both wore sneakers- the faster of the two was quite short and big, with tree-trunk legs, and rode with his knees splayed way out.  Nevertheless, he was kicking my ass on this climb from the Meduna up to Poffabro.  I was truly humbled- now I have no pretense of my current state of fitness- much hard work ahead!

At Poffabro they and I turned south down Val Colvera.  The aero advantage of the road bike immediately left them behind and it was the last I saw of them.  Soon I arrived at the left turn for Vals.  After a few meters of light climbing it turns straight up.  I was out of the saddle, pulling up on the bars to mash the pedals, and panting like a steam locomotive.  This continues without a break for about a kilometer.  Very pretty late-winter forest along the way, with many buca di neve and rose di natale.

At the top there's a tiny flat spot, then you're plummeting down the wide curves toward Fanna.

The 90mm stem flipped down feels great on the Merckx.  I think it's all sorted now.

Upstream Torrente Meduna; note snowless
Monte Valcalda and Monte Rest in background 

There were 4 herons here when I arrived but my clattering
scared 3 of them away; lovely seeing those big wings flapping as they slowly sail away

The climb; rode from top to bottom


Friday, March 9, 2012

Commute to school

I don't usually note these rides here, but I try to bike to school in Pordenone as often as possible.  Today I got a late start and didn't get underway until 7:45.  I stayed in the big ring (52) the whole way and gave it my best shot, ending up with 26km in 53 minutes.

On the way home I was enjoying the gorgeous weather- I was comfortable riding in only my Craft base layer.  I took it easy until near San Quirino, when my front tire went flat.  The tube was quite difficult to remove, as it had been installed so long (maybe 5 years?) it was stuck to the rim and tire.  At the end the valve stem wouldn't budge, so I found a large rock in a nearby field and gave it a good whack.  The new tube went in fine, and as I was finishing up a fellow on a bike rolled up to see if I needed help.  This is one thing I love here- if you break down people will stop and try to help.  It's like everyone is looking out for one another.

The remainder of the way home I tried to make up lost time, and was quite tired at the finish.  This commute is actually a pretty good workout- I'll try to keep it up biweekly until end of courses in May.

Note:  After parking the Trek 1220 I replaced the front cartridge bearings on the Viner Maxima RS front wheel (Fulcrum 7).  Spins much smoother now.  I was greatly helped by the hints here: Fulcrum 7 front wheel bearing replacement

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Castello di Toppo

Nice rolling spin through Meduno, across the plains to Toppo and Travesio, then along the colline to Sequals.   From here an easy spin through Arba and home.  Perfect day for cycling- sunny and nippy.

Note: the 100mm Thomson stem is perfect.  I'm still weighing whether to chop 5mm off the seat mast.
12th century Castello di Toppo dei Longobardi
See Castello di Toppo

Rode this loop clockwise

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Castello di Caneva

Beautiful Spring weather this morning.   I cruised down to Budoia and met up with Joe Williams for a ride.  He knew a different route to Fiaschetti than I've ridden before- very peaceful uncrowded road.   After Caneva we headed up to the castle, down a bit then up to the highpoint where the road for il Cansiglio turns off.  We then descended past Sarone and then the backroad to Polcenigo.  Very nice ride with good company- thankfully Joe was throttling back to save energy for the Treviso marathon tomorrow.

Note:  the Wheels Mfg temporary derailleur hanger again worked flawlessly.  It's a keeper.