Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Val Muiè

Val Muiè is one of the prettiest, most peaceful rides in this area.  It's also quite fun with a fast descent, lots of curves and some rolling saliscendi to keep you on your toes.  I warmed up riding to Maniago then headed up Valcolvera, opting for Bus di Colvera instead of the first tunnel.  Just before Poffabro took the right turn marked Navarons.  It's only been a few minutes since you've left civilization at Maniago but you could easily be a couple of centuries back in time in Val Muiè- nothing but forest, a white water stream, birds, surrounding snow-topped peaks.  The effect continues in Navarons, practically uninhabited in winter (in summer those who've moved away return for a few weeks).  Across the Meduna River, steeply up to the main road, then more rolling hills to Meduno, Fanna and home.  2 hours and 50km of happiness. 

Val Muiè vineyard

Monte Raut

Monte Jouf in background, Frisanco on the right

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Villa d'Arco

Short flat ride to ops check my left leg.  On the Monte Ragogna ride it developed a sharp pain in upper left thigh/groin area which was barking with every seated pedal stroke (oddly it felt fine when standing on the 16% grade).  Yesterday I rested it all day other than a short, shuffling walk with the dogs.  On today's ride I didn't notice it at all.

First half of ride is slightly downhill- a great spinning warm-up.  The second half rises gently, giving just enough resistance to get your heart rate up.  Leg is good to go.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cornino - Monte Ragogna

The rain stopped today and I headed east to see the snow on the mountains.  I rode through Pinzano, up to Cornino, crossed the Tagliamento River, then took the rolling road up to Muris where the climb for Monte Ragogna begins.  It's very steep  (10.3% average, with 16% stretches), and has appeared in the Giro d'Italia previously.  Just below the top is a beautiful park with church and World War I memorial- I stopped to take some landscape pictures here because the top is covered with trees.  At the top I headed south on the ridge road, which is closed to cars because of a landslide.  Great ride, though I tweaked a groin muscle on the easy climb out from Meduno River up to Sequals (neglected to downshift).  Hopefully it will be all better by tomorrow.

Note: tried out my new Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier WxB gloves. I ordered them after my hands got wet, cold and numb a few weeks back.  Didn't get to test their water resistance yet, but they are nice and warm riding in 2℃ windy weather ( I had a thin pair of inserts inside).

Monte Ragogna- antennas at 500m, to right below them
 you can see chiesetta alpina Julia

Alpi Giulia from near Muris

Beautiful Alpi Giulia looking north

Tagliamento River and mountains near Austrian border

A view of the alps stretching to Slovenia

Chiesetta alpina Julia war memorial

Monte Cavallo floating in the clouds,
Castello di Pinzano in foreground

Monte Raut with Castelnovo del Friuli in foreground

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fregona - Grotte del Calglieron

A brief break in the rain/snow this morning, but temps still below freezing.  Paul Kim contacted several of us about riding, so Naz, I and some Italian friends showed up.  We headed out through Caneva and Sarmede, and a couple of the fellows mentioned they were in their 50s-60s.  In the back of my mind I must have thought "Finally someone I can keep up with" but I would be wrong.  Both were in great shape for their age and broke away from our little pack soloing for considerable distances.  I've learned my lesson:  never underestimate an older Italian cyclist.

We took a new route up to Fregona, and it's my new favorite.  As you run into Vittorio Veneto  take a right on Via Pola.  It's wonderful, with switchbacks up the wooded hillside and views of the city and plains below.  Near the top it passes over the entrance of Grotte del Calglieron, which looks like a spectacular cave; we'll have to tour it this summer.  From here we descended to Fregona then climbed up to Osigo.  We continued along the cliffside road to Rugolo, then headed home.  Hopefully I'll get to ride with this bunch again soon- they were great companions.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cold and Wet

It was lightly sprinkling when I woke up- almost like mist, a couple of degrees above freezing.  Around 0800 I got ready and left for Maniago to join my friend Naz for a ride.  Unknown to me, he had sent a message to call off the ride because of the weather.  He was cool about it though, and went ahead and got ready.  Our original plan of climbing was altered by the low altitude freezing point.  Instead we rode down to Vivaro, across to Spilimbergo, up to Meduno, and back to Maniago.  Most of the way it was sprinkling/drizzling, just enough to gradually soak you thoroughly.  Naz very kindly throttled back so I could keep up with him- very fast rider.

The cold and wet wasn't too bad except for fingers and toes- need waterproof shoe covers and gloves.  I had to soak my hands in cold water for 10 minutes when I got home until my fingers regained feeling- reminded me of sledding at my grandmother's in New Jersey as a kid.   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Artegna - Stella - Tarcento

The climb from Artegna to Stella is way over on the other side of Friuli.   I rode there via Pinzano, Cornino, Majano, Buja.  Finally at 57 km I reached Artegna and approached the climb.  It was a sunny, calm winter day, and in the piazza loudspeakers were playing Pavarotti arias.  I decided I would dedicate the climb to Pavarotti, which came in handy later.  After Artegna (203m) you follow signs for Montenars, and after crossing the bridge over Torrente Orvenco begin a crazy series of switchbacks.  They have very steep curves at the ends (+16%) and less steep straight stretches in between (12-13%).  Not that I'm complaining- I was desperate for any relief I could get.  Then there are long straightish stretches at 16% as well.  Toward the end of these I was dying and wanted to get off and walk in a bad way, but I thought about Pavarotti and kept going, despite seeing stars from lack of oxygen to the brain.  This madness ends at 662 meters

The road follows the ridge eastward, with great views of mountains to the north.  It's an interesting saliscendi, around every curve lies another unexpected climb or descent.  At Stella (647m)  you head down a curvy road, averaging -9.6% for the next 4 km.  The front tire flatted but I found a nice sunny spot to change it.  It was almost a welcome break.

The end of descent is Tarcento, a pretty town with hundreds of people out enjoying the sunny day.  From here back through Buja, etc.  The weather was so nice there were people sunbathing down on the sand bars in the Tagliamento River (in long sleeves and pants).     

Looking northeast toward the Julian Alps

Monte Musi (1878m)

Monte Chiampon (1709m)

0.5 km stretch average 16%

Gradients approaching 20%

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Monte San Lorenzo - Frisanco

Buon anno!  Perfect sunny winter day so I took a little ride toward Fanna, then turned left toward Monte San Lorenzo.  This is a smooth, wide, well-paved road, usually full of large trucks hauling rock from the quarry on Monte San Lorenzo to the cement plant at Fanna.  But on Sundays and holidays it's deserted.  The gradient is a good workout but never impossibly steep.  Very nice to descend too because of the wide switchbacks.  Today instead I descended northward on a narrow mountain lane to Valcolvera.  From here I continued north to the turnoff for Frisanco and headed up again, steeply but not unreasonable.  Just before Frisanco I turned right at the sign marked Madonna della Stangada.  This is a beautiful ridgetop road that climbs high above Val Muie (to the north) with great views of Monte Raut, Monte Valcalda, Monte Rest, and the hillside town of Casasola.  Soon you reach a pretty old church, Madonna della Stangada.  The road continues briefly to Valdistali then dead ends.  I think you can hike down to the Meduna River from the road.

Rode back quickly so I'd make it home by dinnertime.  No black-eyed peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes but I substituted ceci, costa da bietola, and zucca.  Hopefully it brings good luck in the new year!
"Reclaimed" remnant of Monte San Lorenzo's east slope; luckily the
west slope is still a beautiful hiking area with 13th century church  
View northward toward Monte Raut

Beautiful Madonna della Stangada church

Looking down at the campanile di Frisanco; note
characteristic wooden balconies on house (right)