Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Val Menera MTB

Another attempt today to reach Il Cansiglio from Mezzomonte.  On my last try, I turned south too soon and arrived at Malga di Coda del Bosco instead.  Today I rode from Polcenigo up to Col delle Palse (1366m) and turned left toward Il Cansiglio.  I continued on the gravel road along the ridge until 1181 meters where I turned right onto the road for Candaglia/Il Cansiglio.  This turns to a concrete surface and climbs up to 1289 meters near Col dei S'cios, where you turn right onto a gravel forest road marked Candaglia.  You leave behind the grassy bald area and enter a lush dense forest of beech and spruce trees.

This beautiful road continues to the border of Veneto and an old survey marker from the days when Veneto first became part of Italy.  Soon you arrive at the casa forestale (1268m) on Monte Candaglia, with great panoramas of the Dolomiti Bellunese, Monte Pizzoc, and the expansive grassy meadows of Piancansiglio.  After a brief descent on the paved road, I took the bumpy gravel road marked variously Val Bona, Col di Piave, and later Pian di Landro.  This road passes through densely forested wilderness for miles before finally leveling out, crossing Pian di Landro and arriving in the big meadowy expanse of Val Menera.  Here cows were grazing under the sun, which was a welcome sight because I had gotten so cold on the long, slow shady descent I was shivering, despite wearing a wind jacket.

Soon you arrive at the main road and Pian Osteria.  From here it's an easy ride across Piancansiglio, up through the woods to La Crosetta, and down the mountain to Sarone.  Legs felt a little fried on the rolling hills of Via Pedemontane, but before long I was home.  This is a great ride and I'd love to try some of the many variations soon.

Looking back at Col delle Palse from the ridge road

Turn right at 1181 meters toward Cansiglio, Candaglia
(concrete road) 

Near Col de S'cious: turn right here for Candaglia

Ceppo marking border between Veneto and Austrian empire

Number of the ceppo

Dolomiti Bellunese from casa forestale Candaglia

Monte Teverone (2328m) to north

Piancansiglio (Col Visentin antennas peaking over the ridge on left)

The turn off below Candaglia to Val Bona/ Val Menera

Gorgeous Val Menera meadows

Looking back across Pian di Landro toward eastern ridge

Monday, August 19, 2013

Passo Monte Rest X2

Passo Monte Rest is an old favorite climb, but today I added a twist- instead of turning around at the top after climbing from the South, I continued down the other side to near Ampezzo.  Then I turned back and climbed the North side.  I rode very early so it was nice and cool both ways and hardly anyone else was on the road.  There is a surprising little climb from the Tagliamento River up over a little pass before Peonis, which you also climb on the return.    

When I reached the main road SS52 below Ampezzo I  noticed for the first time that Torrente Lumiei from Lago di Sauris joins the Tagliamento here.  That would be another little extra to add to the exertion- a climb up Passo di Pura to Lago di Sauris- hard!

Falling water of Rio Grasio, north slope

Monte Tinsia (2126m) across the Tagliamento

View west up the Tagliamento valley toward Veneto

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Prato Piazza da Carbonin MTB

Last year I rode up to Prato Piazza on the paved road from Val Pusteria, near Dobbiaco.  I noticed some mountain bikers descending a dirt road on the southeast side and have been wanting to try that ever since.  Today I got my chance.  After parking at Dobbiaco  I rode up a dirt bike path called Lunga Via (it continues to Cortina and Calalzo di Cadore on the bed of an abandoned railway).  It leads south  through the forest, past Lago di Dobbiaco, Lago di Landro and the pass at Cimabanche (1529m).  I was supposed to have turned off before Cimabanche on the road from Misurina to Carbonin but there was construction, a deviation, and no signs, so I continued blithely along to Cimabanche, where I turned on to SS52 and descended back to Carbonin (1375m).

Just before Carbonin (coming from the south now) is a fontana on your left and a gravel road with sign listing hiking destinations.  I headed upward and immediately shifted to the small ring.  This was definitely harder than the bike path, though never steep enough to make you get off and walk.  There were some hikers and some road runners, then later halfway up a mountain biker passed me.  Just before the end of the climb 4 or 5 other mountain bikers caught up with me.  The road is actually a good surface considering the location, with several hundred meters of pavement here and there in the mid-section.  It works out to about 520 meters elevation gain in 6.5km at 8% average gradient.

At the end of climb is Rifugio Vallandro (1912m) and a long level dirt road flanking a huge meadowy hanging valley.  The surrounding peaks are mind-boggling.   I descended via the paved road to the north, which is quite fun on a mountain bike because you can sit up and see everything.  Near the bottom is a turn off for Lago di Baries with more eye-popping scenery.  At the bottom you reach a wonderful long paved bike path, Via Pusteria, which runs for many miles across Alto Adige (Italy's best biking area, IMO).  I rode back to Dobbiaco and drove home via Passo Monte Croce Comelico to avoid the Cortina gridlock.  Got to come back here.

Gruppo del Cristallo (3221m) reflected in Lago di Landro

Close up Monte Cristallo
From near Rifugio Vallandro: Cristallo, Tofana
Mountains to south from different angle

Croda Rossa from Prato Piazza
Croda Rossa different angle

Blurry but beautiful butterfly that landed on my handlebars
while waiting for descent red light to change

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Col Artent

I had planned to ride over Passo di Baia to Castello Tesino in Trentino, returning via Cima di Campo.  When I left home at 0430 the sky was full of stars but when I arrived at Fonzaso west of Feltre, it was raining.  I thought about going ahead, but rain at 200 meters can be worse at 1400 meters, so I decided to head east toward Belluno.  The rain stopped and skies brightened a bit, then I remembered a climb I'd read about from Lentiai to Stabia.  So I parked in the piazza and started climbing.

This was an easy warm up climb, up through Canai to Stabie.  I continued from here on a narrow road, remembering something Jack wrote about climbing up to Rifugio Mariech above Valdobbiadene.  This road turned to dirt at 617 meters.  Then I rode downhill a ways and tried another little road, which ended at a farmhouse with a 20% concrete ramp at 688 meters.

I then descended to another turnoff I'd seen signed Pian Coltura, and began an easy traverse to a place called Colderù.  Here the real climb of the day started, an ascent I've never heard of to Col Artent (also signed Malga Garda).  This well-paved road winds up the mountain for another 6.3km, gaining 709 meters at an average gradient of 11.4%, hitting 19-20% near the top.  I had to stop and pretend to take pictures while the stars cleared from my vision.   At 1172 meters it levels out and turns to gravel (not sure how long but gains another 200 meters before Malga Garda).  I will come back and try this again with the road bike- the gravel didn't look bad.  Today was impossible though because it is Ferragosto holiday, and dozens of cars were arriving with families headed up the narrow dirt road. Maybe in September after things have calmed down.

The descent is fun, though there are metal drainage grates every 100 meters or so to bunny hop.  Also much traffic today (I imagine it's usually deserted).  I'll also try to find Jack's write-up to see if he mountain biked to Mariech or road biked.  That would be very fun.   Here it is:

Dawn light on Vidor near Piave River

View of cloudy weather to west from 20% ramp

Elevation marker

This looks like Castello Zumelle location, though I couldn't see the castle

Panorama to east

Panorama northeast with Belluno

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gorenja Trebuša MTB

Western Slovenia has some of the prettiest, wildest scenery I've ever seen.  Trebuša valley east of Čepovan is a good example: scarcely populated, rugged mountainsides covered in spruce forest.  The back roads here are mostly dirt, with some exceptions.  Even in the height of tourist season there's hardly anyone here.

I drove very early to Tolmin on the Soča River.  Started warming up by riding my mountain bike to the lakeside town of Most na Soči, then at Postaja turned toward beautiful pastures of Čepovan.  This is a great starter climb, with a constant gradient gaining 470 meters in 13 km.  Here you turn left toward Dolenja Trebuša and the road turns to dirt before heading moderately upward.  At 761 meters you reach a small pass Preval Drnulk and then arrive at a spectacular panorama of the Gorenja Trebuša gorge and surrounding mountains.  It's a vertical drop with no handrails so be careful if you stop to look/take pictures.

Soon you reach a junction with one road going to Dolenja Trebuša to the north and the other down the gorge to Gorenja Trebuša.  I'd like to come back and try this Dolenja Trebuša because the map shows a paved road from there down the opposite side of the torrente.  That might be fun.  Instead I took the dirt road, which is slow but very pretty  At the bottom the road becomes paved, you cross a little bridge and  begin the big ascent, roughly 600 meters in 7 km up to Mrzla Rupa, most of it steepish dirt road.  It's nice and shady under big spruce trees though, so I just motored on up.  Here begins some level to rolling terrain, then you head steeply (around 11% average) up a nice paved road past Hudo Polje to ridgeline at 1227 meters.   The ridge is in gorgeous forest with views of the Julian Alps to the north, and a huge collapsed karst sinkhole that looks like an extinct volcano vent (Smrekova Draga).  Now you descend on dirt road to Mala Lazna, big wide meadows with picnic grounds, and a rifugio with Slovenian specialties.  

I got lost leaving here (saw a sign for Lokve but got confused which road it was referring to). So I rode about 5km down the wrong road, asked some guys and rode 5 km back to Mala Lazna.  Before I headed down the steep descent I double checked and asked some guys on horseback who confirmed it's the road to Lokve.   After plummeting down the dirt road to Lokve, I continued steeply down the dirt road to Čepovan.  From here a beautiful cruise down the paved road to Postaja, and a rolling stretch to Tolmin.  Fantastic ride- must go back and explore the area further.

Turn left here at Čepovan 
The panorama south from Preval Drnulk

The view northeast

Close up of northeast

Turn right here

Pretty farmhouse on pasture edge

Goats enjoying brunch

The ridgeline we'll be crossing in an hour or two 

Meadows to northeast

Torrente Trebuša at ponte 329m

At Mrzla Rupa, follow this sign

From the high ridge near Smerkova Draga (1236m) looking north

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Castello di Zumelle

On the climb from Piave Valley up to Passo Praderadego I've noticed a turn marked Castello di Zumelle.  Clearly this needs to be investigated.  I started biking from Lago Revine a bit before 6 AM to avoid the heat and turned at Tovena toward Passo San Boldo.  Over the pass at 706 meters, and then down through beautiful rolling meadows to Trichiana.  Here you must ride briefly west on SP1, a busy road between Belluno and Feltre.  I exited as quickly as possible at Zottier, and started on a new route to Passo Praderadego.  It climbs across lovely meadowy uplands from Zottier to Pellegai, Samprogno, and then joins the usual route at Carve.  

After Carve and Valmaor I turned right at the aforementioned Castello di Zumelle sign and soon the little road turned to dirt, but rideable on road bike.  There was an unmarked intersection where I scratched my head awhile and then chose at random.  It turned to dirt again, then back to pavement.  This time I chose to descend a bit, reached a meadow, and luckily a castle on a hill.  There was a concrete walkway up to it so I rode up that.  Then I walked around taking pictures.  It was first built by the Romans around 40 AD as part of Via Claudia Augusta Altinate, a trade route from Italy to the Danube.  Later it was taken over by the barbarians, then local princes/dukes fighting one another.

I headed back the way I'd come till I reached the road for Praderadego.  Very steep and densely forested- this is a fun climb.  At the top (930 meters) are some places where people eat barbeque, drink wine, etc.    They have paved the section below the pass and it is beautiful.

The two passes are a great ride anytime and the castle makes a fun side trip.  I need to find out when they have events where they open the tower- I'd love to climb up there and check the view.
Wide meadows on north side of Passo San Boldo

Cliffs above the meadows

Church at Trichiana with Dolomiti Bellunese in background
I luckily guessed and turned right. 

First sighting of Castello di Zumelle

View from castle of Passo Praderadego

Castle parapets with arrow slits

The east-facing wall, in best restored conditioned

Dolomiti Bellunese from castle

The restored tower and ruins of west wall 

House at Passo Praderadego

View of the gorge down to Cison Valmareno

Dolomite towers above Praderadego road

Cliffs high above