Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monte San Lorenzo

One last ride of the year to test drive a new chain on my old Merckx.   Warmed up in the big ring to Vivaro, Arba, Cavasso Nuovo, Fanna.  Then up the short, steep climb of Monte San Lorenzo  to 522 meters.  Quickly home via Val Colvera, Maniago, Ravedis.  Cold but partly sunny, perfect end of December weather.  Buon anno!

Monte Raut from San Lorenzo

Friday, December 27, 2013

La Crosetta da Cappella Maggiore

After our rainy Natale and Santo Stefano the rain stopped and I wanted to get one last ride in.  I picked the climb to Il Cansiglio from the Vittorio Veneto side.  I've only climbed it a couple of times, both times shortening it by starting from Osigo near Fregona.  Today instead I thought I'd try it from lower down.  After warming up on Via Pedemontana to Cordignano, I turned right at Pinidello and headed to Cappella Maggiore, following the signs for Fregona.  Now the road steepens to 8-10% and hovers around there for the next 12 km.  It's a very good workout though I really felt the lack of training from November/December.  At La Crosetta I donned my cold weather gear and headed down the steep descent to Sarone.  Never did thaw out real good the rest of the way home; had kind of a  dopey hypothermic feeling.  A hot bath seems to have fixed that.  Good ride- will try some of the adjacent dirt roads on MTB later.

Campanile di Osigo foreground; down the hill on the left is Fregona

Looking west toward Vittorio Veneto

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Aimless Wandering

I set out intending to ride a variant of http://dolomiti-friulane.blogspot.it/2013/02/due-castelli-e-delle-grotte.html today.  But our crystal-clear frigid December has changed to overcast, slightly warmer,  even foggy.  By the time I reached Coltura it was evident if I climbed above 300 meters I'd be socked-in, so I changed my plans.  At Fiaschetti I headed south to Sacile, then turned left on SS13 to Villadolt.  Got lost here awhile, rode down a nice dirt road through winter fields and fog until reaching paved road again at Ceolini.  After Roveredo I turned toward Castello d'Aviano, then headed through Aviano and Marsure till home.   Fun flattish ride; even familiar roads can surprise you.

Fiume Livenza at Sacile, with cormorant swimming along left bank

Love how they've left the riparian vegetation intact

A wood carver rode his bike down to this tree stump along the river;
he was using a wooden mallet with chisel to sculpt the tree 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Casera Fraspedane

I'm sorry for the long absence- after climbing Sveta Gora I had a bout with a feverish sore throat, followed by a molar with infected nerve that needed  a root canal.  I lost weight and strength in the process, so now I'm battling back.  The weather has been cold but clear and I've managed a few flat commutes to school in Pordenone the past few weeks.  Today is my first real ride.

I rode to Meduno, then through 2 large flocks of sheep to Toppo and on to Travesio.  Here I turned left along Val Cosa to Paludea and the climb up to Clauzetto.  From there took the road upward toward Orton  (Pradis di Sopra).  Later at the side road marked Rope, Zuaniers, Fraspedane I turned right and began climbing quite steeply.  I don't know if I've biked this before, but around 1996 I remember driving to the turnoff on the dirt road for Monte Pala and snowshoeing to the top (1221m) with my terrier Rocky.  It was quite snowy and I remember carrying him back down part way because he was tired from pushing through the snow.  Today instead the worst I encountered was a layer of frost at Casera Fraspedane (839m).  I wasn't sure where this frosty road was headed so decided to save it for another day.  Also might try to mountain bike up Monte Pala next Spring.

I headed steeply down to Orton then back the way I'd come to Travesio.  Here instead of Toppo I took the Sequals-Arba route.  Somewhere along there I ran out of gas and just kind of slowly turned the cranks the last 20 km home.  If you don't use it you lose it, and now I'm back in rebuild mode.    

Turn right here off SP55, the road from Clauzetto to Pielungo

View northeast- Monte Gran Pala

North- Monte Rossa (1369m)

Northwest- Zuc di Santins (1309m) 

Casera Fraspedane with Monte Flagjel (1467m) in background

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sveta Gora

 Across the border in Slovenia Sveta Gora rises steeply from the Soča River, with a beautiful sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna at the top. Pilgrims from around the world come to visit.  I decided to start my pilgrimage on the Italian border at Venco, south of Cividale.  This is a wonderful area of rolling hills covered in vineyards, with slightly taller hills topped by little towns and castles.  I rode through Neblo, Dobrovo, Šmartno, Hum and Podsabotin.  I haven't been riding as much as usual the past month, and I felt it on these little hills.  After Podsabotin you enter an odd area where the Yugoslav road crosses a bulge in the Italian border.  Seems strange now but in the Iron Curtain days this was heavily guarded to prevent escape to the West.  The road climbs part way up the flank of Monte Sabotin here, with some 12% stretches.  I considered aborting the climb up Sveta Gora- I felt very out-of-shape.   But the fast descent down to the Soča River revived me, so I decided to try.

After crossing the river at Solkan I headed up the road toward Sveta Gora.  Not too bad at first but after the turn off for Lokve at 320 meters the road gets very steep.  In the next 2.7 km you gain 362 meters, averaging 13.4% with a few hundreds meters at 18-20%.  I stood and panted till I couldn't continue,  then stopped to catch my breath a few times.  At the top the views were great, despite the cloudy day.   A nice Slovenian guy offered to take my picture.  The descent was fast of course, followed by all those rolling hills.  I was beat but very happy to get a ride despite our November rains and wind.  Must come back and explore Monte Sabotin, which was a WW I battlefield and has several bike trails. 

Fresco of the 3 Wise Men in a chapel along the climb

It's steep

View to northwest toward Triglav

Looking northeast (maybe toward Čepovan?) 

Sveta Gora's bell tower

A kind Slovenian guy took my picture

Monte Sabotin to southwest

The facade of the sanctuary

City of Solkan with the Adriatic Sea in the distance 

The bridge in foreground is the longest stone arch in Europe

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Frassaneit Hike

I usually pedal past Tramonti di Sopra without even noticing,  but I heard about this trail and wanted to hike it.  From the piazzetta in  Tramonti di Sopra I followed the signs to Frassaneit, and parked at the end of pavement.  The road turned to dirt and rock with no trail markings, so I chose instead to take the trail to the right marked Strada Da Lis Fornas CAI 394.  It climbed steeply up for a few hundred meters till I reached a house where a man was working in his garden.  He asked where I was going and then said I was on the wrong trail- I needed to go back down to the dirt road.  He mentioned during the war the Germans came down this road on their way to Claut, about 5 hours away.  When I told him I'm American he said he has relatives in Arlington, Texas.  

I walked back down the hill and turned onto the dirt road and began winding along the edge of the gorge above Torrente Meduna.  After a bit you descend to the bottom of the gorge, which is mostly carved giant boulders and rock walls, with the Meduna's whitewater taking up about a third of the gorge floor.  I missed a turn down here and continued along the gorge bottom instead of taking the trail upward.  It got rougher, soon I was using handholds and looking for footrests on the VW bus-sized boulders.  It reminded me of Yuba River upstream from the wooden covered bridge at Bridgeport, California.  When the water stretched across the width of the gorge bottom surrounded by rock walls I decide to climb out.  I scrambled upward holding onto saplings, rocks, etc until I reached the trail again.

I walked quickly along this well-made trail and eventually reached Frassaneit, an abandoned village in the middle of nowhere.  Next time I'll try to continue (on foot) to Lago Cà Zul, which I previously tried to reach through the unlit wet, unpaved 3 km tunnel from Lago Cà Selva, but chickened out after 500 meters.   

Go left here

Looking down into Torrente Meduna gorge

Waterfall viewed from ponte over Rio Fisar

Turn right and go up those rough rocky stairs

The ruins of families' homes at Frassaneit

More ruins

Bridge abutments but the bridge is long gone 

Salamander along the trail

Torrente Meduna gorge

Friday, November 1, 2013

Val Cimoliana MTB

Our rainy October has finally ended so I celebrated with a local ride.  Mountain biked up Valcellina highway to Cimolais, and then turned right on the road marked Val Cimoliana.  The valley is wide here, with pastures and small woods surrounded by tall craggy mountains.  The valley gradually narrows and soon there is no room for pastureland.  Around 850 meters you pass between two vertical walls with barely enough room for the river and the road.   The rumbling white water reverberates off surrounding rock walls.  Climbing out of this gorge you cross a bridge over the river and traverse out through the forest.    Soon you reach the parking area for Rifugio Pordenone (1200 meters) where the road ends.  Fantastic views of dolomite towers on the surrounding peaks and the gorge continuing to the north.  I will be coming back to hike here. 

Torrente Cimoliana from Ponte Scandoler

Cascade between rock walls, below Ponte Confoz

Crossing a wide gravel bed with great views to northwest

Spectacular dolomite towers above Val Montanaia

Campanile Gambet (2025m) to northeast 

Lovely view to west from Casera La Fontana parking area

Narrow gorge below Confoz

Looking north through Confoz gorge

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lama di Som MTB

I've ridden past this junction dozens of times but never turned onto it.  Then yesterday I was searching for some info and found an itinerary of this ride, so I had to try it.  I rode my MTB down Via Pedemontane to Sarone and headed toward Il Cansiglio.  Around 490 meters I turned sharply right onto a paved road marked Lama di Som.  It's a nice rest after the steep climb toward Il Cansiglio:  bordering trees provide cool shade from the southern exposure as you wind along a hillside toward northeast.  After a km or so the gradient turns steep briefly (13-14%) but then mellows out again.  I continued past Lama di Som to check out end of pavement: around 690 meters elevation the road joins a steep dirt road on the left toward Malga Pizzoc, Candaglia, and Piancavallo.  If instead you go straight you arrive at a lovely house with paved lane ascending steeply through a gate.  Not sure if it continues- an exploration for another day.

Back at Lama di Som, I found beautiful pastures with a few farmhouses.  I'd like to drive back here with Marilyn and the pups- great place for a peaceful walk.  I backtracked a little till I reached the turnoff for Polcenigo.  This is a very cool gravel road with lots of switchbacks leading down to Coltura.  I was blithely coasting downhill when I met a group of tired mountain bikers slowly creeping upward.  Maybe next year I can try climbing this, though it will need to be early Spring or late Fall, as most of the slope is sun-exposed and would be deadly in July-August.  Fun ride!

When you see this sign, get ready to turn onto
Lama di Som road 

Turn right here

End of pavement, start dirt road to Malga Pizzoc

Nice house where the paved road went
through a gate uphill

Lama di Som green pastures 

Turnoff on dirt road to Polcenigo

Eye-catching pink berries along the sunny dirt road

Looking back at the green pastures of Lama di Som

The steep twisty dirt road

Lovely old house along the dirt road to Coltura

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Čadrg is one of 3 climbs from Tolmin, in Slovenia, into Triglav National Park.  All 3 have absolutely beautiful scenery accompanying a great workout.

I started from Kobarid, a few miles up the Soča River from Tolmin, warming-up on the road along the east bank.   Just before you get to Tolmin take a left toward Zatolmin, and continue on the narrow farm road marked Hudičev Most (Devil's Bridge). You descend down near the edge of the Tolminka River gorge, where you can see tourist information, parking, trailheads, etc.  Follow the narrow paved road along the gorge edge, with railings to keep you from taking a plunge.  Through a very short tunnel and then you arrive at the bridge, very high above the water.  Make sure you've downshifted because you're about to hit a wall.

The next half km averages 15%- I just stood and panted.  Continue climbing to a 180 degree turn at the junction for Zadlaz, then climb the briefly-easier sun-exposed slope to Laz (423m).  Here starts the steepest bit, which my Garmin recorded as 22%.   

The remaining 3 km of climbing is a peculiar mix of 10-13% stretches punctuated with 15-20%
ramps to prevent you getting into rhythm.  All told, from Devil's Bridge to Čadrg you average 9.4% gradient for 5.5 km.  At Čadrg you pass by some farmhouses which I think rent rooms in summer.  Very picturesque with bell-wearing cows, sheep, goats, pig wallows, chickens and ducks wandering about.   The road finally ends in a farmyard at 741 meters, though you can continue on trails with a MTB.

Fantastic views up here with surrounding mountains, autumn leaves, the gorge down to Tolminka River.  I'll try to return next year on MTB and connect this ride with  Tolminske Ravne and Planina Razor, some of the prettiest vistas I've found anywhere.

Veliki Stador (1899m) 

Grušnica (1570m)

On left Visoč Vrh (1482m)

Javor (1363m)

Looking down Tolminka gorge toward Tolmin

The view straight down from Devil's Bridge