Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Forcella Lavardet MTB

I left at zero dark thirty and drove to Comeglians, north of Villa Santina.  Then I hopped on my mountain bike and rode up beautiful Val Pesarina.  This starts with a series of picturesque villages where clocks were made in the old days, now only one factory remains at Pesaris.  Higher up it is covered with miles of spruce forest, waterfalls, and a couple of small ski areas.  Around 1545m the main road continues up to the left toward Sella Ciampigotto.  On the right is a curious sign saying Forcella Lavardet, road closed.  This dirt (rock) road was closed in 1993 after torrential storms caused some huge landslides.  For years I read it was impassable, but lately I've seen some reports of people mountain biking it, so I had to try.  

The upper part is rough with exposed rock, and what look like remnants of rough pavé (more like a bunch of different-sized big rocks pounded into the dirt.  This wasn't too bad, I just went slow and the suspension fork took care of it.  All of this slow-going in the shade of a big mountain at 1500 meters after sweating up the hill took its toll: I was freezing.  I figured I wouldn't need a jacket after doing Col Visentin and Monte Grappa in short sleeves, but I figured wrong.  I got to shivering and I think I was a bit hypothermic because I was trying to sort some minor problem with my bike and had no comprehension nor coordination (even less than normal).   Later on the road is nice, wide, graded gravel- they've done a lot of work down there.  Eventually you rejoin rough pavement around 1300 meters, arrive at a beautiful little chapel, and wind down the fanciest set of tornanti I've ever seen.  It looks like a piece of art, every switchback is symmetrical and fits exactly into the the next, all the way down to the Torrente Frison.

The road ends at Campolongo di Cadore, where you turn right  and head up the Piave Valley to Sappada and Cima Sappada (1290m).  From there a wonderful downhill cruise through Forni Avoltri and Rigolato to Comeglians.  Got to try this in the opposite direction someday.

Waterfall along Val Pesarina road

The mystery road

Creta di Mimoias (2320m) north of forcella

Monte Brentoni (2548m) northwest of forcella

Another peak of Brentoni Group, above winding Torrente Frison

Torrente Frison

Close up Brentoni Group peak

A Terza Group peak (to east) 

This massive cliff face is part of Brentoni Group 

Madonna della Difesa chapel, at Merendera

Looking north through the mountain gap toward Campolongo
and peaks beyond

Looking down the tornanti toward bridge over Frison
Sun about to break over Terza Group 

Close up of Terza Group ridge with colored dolomite

The adjacent ridge, also with colored dolomite

Sun breaking out over the tornanti stack at Merendera

Beautiful Campolongo view to the north

Campolongo church copper steeple,
hay sheds on the hills above

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Passo Glevizza

I heard about this climb from the guys at Adesso Pedala.  From Ponte di San Quirino (156m) you ride up Val Natisone to Loch.  I was kinda sleepy and turned too early, just after San Pietro al Natisone at the "Mezzana" sign (should have been "Mersino").  It was a beautiful curvy little road though, but dead ended at 451 meters.  Nice views of lower Val Natisone.

Back on track, I found the Mersino road and headed upward.  This road is completely different: wild, rugged surroundings and steep pavement (10km averaging 8.4%, with ramps over 14%).  After about 4km you reach a hillside town, Morseu, where you continue grappling steeply up.  A bit later following the signs for Matajur, you reach Nabordo, then Oballa.  Shortly after, around 825m, the character of the road changes- it follows the ridgeline upward and is straighter.  You reach Passo Glevizza around 997 meters, and then descend gently to Montemaggiore at 950m.

Now I decided to climb Matajur again since I was already halfway up it.  I dug in and made it up the switchbacks averaging 9.6% for 3.5 km to 1300m.  Lots of visitors up here at Rifugio Pelizzo on a July Sunday.  I headed back down, continuing through Masseris to Cepletischis at 580m.  Heading briefly toward Slovenia (which is about 1 km away) I found the turn off for my last climb, Passo di San Martino.   

The road (closed to traffic for repairs) descends first to a stream at 500m, then starts climbing up a twisty lane through shady forest, until Passo di San Martino at 674m.  Down steeply to Clodig, then along Torrente Cosizza back to Ponte di San Quirino.

Passo Glevizza is a wonderful, little-known climb and I'll definitely be back to ride it again.

Across Val Natisone, San Giovanni d'Antro clings to the steep hillside 

Passo Glevizza (997m), in the forest below Monte Matajur

Heavily contorted cliffs east of Rifugio Pelizzo, Matajur

Beautiful meadows on Matajur

Different angle of Matajur meadows

Alpino watering hole at Passo di San Martino

Friday, July 26, 2013

Monte Grappa da Cavaso del Tomba

This is my 3rd ride up Monte Grappa (1732m), each time with a different route.  Today I started from Cavaso del Tomba, a few miles west of Pederobba.  This is the hardest route so far:  after a km or so of easy climbing it goes bizerk, scaling 3.5 km from 360 to 810 meters altitude, averaging 12.9%.  I stopped to put on a headsweat after the first 100 meters of this because sweat was suddenly raining into my eyes.  After that I kept rolling, though barely on the 17% ramps.  At 800 meters you resume easy climbing for a couple km, though my legs were so rubbery I could barely even ascend that.

Now I headed west a bit below the Monte Tomba ridge, soon joining the road coming up from Pederobba and then the road from Alano di Piave.  Here starts the toughest part of the dorsal road's Monte Grappa climb, 5 km averaging 11% up to Bocca di Forca at 1395m.  It very gradually gets steeper, then passes through a brief shady section to cool you off.   As soon as you exit the shade the road steepens, soon becoming a stack of switchbacks clinging to the cliff face.  Once you wobble past La Vedetta (1445m) things get better.  There's a pretty side valley, Val delle Mure, where you descend rolling hills to 1301m and then climb back out through some old WW 1 tunnels to a fantastic view of sheer cliffs above rugged valleys cascading down to the plain.  The remaining ascent crosses grassy meadows with more cycling roads ascending from all directions until the end of the road at 1732m, in the clouds.  You can walk from here up to the top of the ossuary war memorial, which I did last year.

Today instead I ate a piece of my neighbor Silvano's wonderful ciambella cake, then headed back down the way I'd come.  Fun ride.  My next ascent of Monte Grappa must be Strada degli Alpini from Possagno- I think I'll savor the anticipation of that until next year.

Pretty church at Pieve, Cavaso del Tomba

8-10% pendenza accentuate.   The highway dept guys must
love watching cyclists' expressions as they struggle up 17%
Famous goat atop Salto della Capra climb from Paderno

Monte Grappa seen from 1400 meters near La Vedetta 

Pink wildflowers atop Monte Grappa

Close up, with bees

Shady relief on the climb to Bocca di Forca 

Ah, fresh, cool air along a false flat

Break time over: now begin the stacks of tornanti

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monte Namlen

The area near Cividale is full of bike rides and climbs.  Today I tried 2 new ones.  The first starts at Ponte di San Quirino, at the south end of Val Natisone.  Usually I ride up the main road through San Pietro al Natisone, but today's climb is on the opposite (west) bank of the river.  It starts flat but heads upslope by the time you reach Tarcetta.  The road has excellent cycling itinerary markers but I missed 2 in a row and rode right through Tarcetta, ending up in Lasiz.  This was a dead end so I returned to Tarcetta (200m), found a marker for San Giovanni d'Antro and headed steeply upward.  This leads to a church I've seen from miles away but never visited, which is by a grotto with religious sculpture, paintings.  I instead headed steeply upward again toward Spignon, and continued above it to a T-intersection (650m).  Left turn goes to Puller, but turn right and head for Masarolis/Tamoris.  

This road is marked at each end 'closed for frane' (landslides) but it's no problem on a bike.  Absolutely solitary cliffside road through the woods overlooking the gorge  above Torreano.  At the end you join the switchbacks leading upward from Torreano/Masarolis toward Tamoris (800m).  The switchbacks continue upward, and I must have looked tired because a road crew clearing fallen rocks/limbs bid me "Coraggio- non manchi tante!"  Shortly after I arrived at Madonnina del Domm (945m), which was being logged.  Lots of tree waste in the road but the fresh-cut spruce smelled great.  I descended to Bocchetta di Sant'Antonio (789m) and started ascending again.  This road carries you up above Porzus  (907 m) and then down to a sharp right turn just above Subit (723m).  

Here begins my second "new" climb, a wonderful old military road that traverses in solitude for chilometri along the forested mountainsides to Monte Namlen (1005m), then down to the road with a big goat farm above Taipana (750m).  Here you go left, descending past Taipana to the road for Nimis, but on a whim I branched left on the road to Torlano.  This was a beautiful un-trafficked road which ends up in Nimis.  I got all turned around here (instead of consulting the map in my backpack) and went down on the plain along Torrente Torre toward Cividale.  It avoids all the up and down of the foothills on the main road, but I probably went several km out of the way.  Still it was fun after all the climbing/descending to just get in the big ring on the drops and cruise.  Seemed to be a good cool down for the legs too, which often ache after much climbing.

This is a wonderful ride and you could do any of 4 or 5 segments of it included in with other routes.  Prealpi Giulia is one of the best Friulian cycling areas. 

The cliffside road from Spignon to Masarolis

The beautiful old military road up to Monte Namlen

View from Monte Namlen of surrounding hills/valleys

Monday, July 22, 2013

Col Visentin MTB

I've ridden from Vittorio Veneto up to end of pavement at Pian dei Grassi (1200 meters) several times, but couldn't go further because of the rough dirt road.  Today I tried to continue to the summit on my mountain bike.  It's a pretty rough road but the gradient is manageable, the worst being some 10-13% stretches.  The scenery is first sun-exposed slopes, then a bit of spruce forest, followed by rolling grassy meadows.  It was hazy today with fog billowing up the cliffs from Lago del Restello and Lago Morto, so visibility was limited.  I imagine on a crisp autumn day before the snow arrives it would be incredible.  At the top Col Visentin (1745m) is an antenna farm  and rifugio but I skipped those and headed toward Monte Faverghera.  

You soon are crossing meadows full of wildflowers, really spectacular.  The road on this side has some nice concrete stretches but also some very rough road, basically a rock pile.  Moderate your speed because I got going a little too fast, went over a one-foot drop and fell on landing.  No harm done, but a good wake up call.  After Rifugio Briscot (1616m)  you just keep descending until eventually arriving at Casera Faverghera (1549).   This is the start of pavement again, curving down to Nevegal then  Quantin,  where I  turned for Cornolade on Lago di Santa Croce.  From here easy climb over Sella Fadalto and down to Vittorio Veneto.  

Oh, I must credit Jack for mentioning the connecting road from Visentin to Faverghera- I had no idea that existed .    

Spruce forest at 1370 meters; fresh air

View of Col Visentin in a clear moment

Getting closer, and a bit cloudier

The mountains stretching west toward Feltre

Look back at the twisty road, with Monte Cesen (1570m) in background

Headed toward Faverghera, looking toward Belluno and Piave River

Pretty wildflowers along the road

Looking back from Faverghera toward Col Visentin

Friday, July 19, 2013

Casera Rupeit MTB, Hike

Casera Rupeit is a pastoral area on the mountain above Montereale Valcellina.  It's easy to access via the paved road climbing past Monte Spia to the Osservatorio Astronomico, then hiking or mountain biking up the gravel road to CAI 988 trailhead at 1015 meters.   From here on it's a steep, twisty hiking trail up to Casera Rupeit at 1276 meters (I parked my bike and hiked up) .

Great views from here of the surrounding peaks, Lago di Ravedis, and the plain.  About 2 hours round trip by MTB/foot from our house.

Lago di Ravedis from 900 meters

Looking down at Zuccul Supigna (1058m)

Pala d'Altei (1528m) with chrome cross on top

Monte Raut, Monte Fara and Lago di Ravedis

Lago Di Ravedis hidden behind the hills above Monterale Valcellina

Ricovero di Casera Rupeit with Casera Valfredda in left background

Our village, Giais

Beautiful cliffs