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

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