Thursday, February 28, 2013

Torrenti Muie, Chiarzo e Cosa

Three favorite rides cobbled together.  Started up through Valcolvera to Poffabro, then down peaceful Val Muie to Navarons.  North along Lago di Redona to the right turn for Campone.  This is the long cold stretch up Torrente Chiarzo, which is shaded from sun all winter so always stays frozen.  After the climb to Piani di Clauzetto, head down to Pradis di Sotto (Gerchia) and immediately upward again to Pradis di Sopra (Orton).  From here down to Clauzetto and the fun curvy road along Torrente Cosa.  At Travesio you head for Sequals and home.

Lots of bucca di neve and primule out- primavera is here!

Torrente Chiarzo ice falls; these big ice sickles
are about 20 feet long 

Ramp up to Piani di Clauzetto (683m)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Passo Fadalto

Passo Fadalto is a beautiful spot north of Vittorio Veneto between Col Visentin (1763m) to the west and Monte Pizzoc (1565m) to the east.   The pass lies at the head of Lago di Santa Croce, surrounded by snow-capped peaks of Belluno and Friuli.  Go see it!

I took the low route through Caneva and Pinidello, then Anzano and Vittorio Veneto.  The gorge up through Nove and Fadalto was quite windy, as usual.  I decided to circle the lake counterclockwise- seemed to work out better with the north wind.  Descent was fun and the long flat stretch to Fiaschetti made a nice rest before the climb back home.

View to northwest

Close-up of my nemesis on the right, Monte Dolada (1938m)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Due castelli e delle grotte

Down Via Pedemontana Occidentale, right toward Sarone and up to the junction for Il Cansiglio, then down/up to Castello di Caneva, with beautiful restored campanile and church.  Next down to Caneva, west toward Villa di Villa, up past the backroad to Il Cansiglio and around Castello di Cordignano.  This castle ruin has some impressive stone walls and a large round tower.  Now up over the steep road to Rugolo, and along the cliffside through Montaner and Osigo to Fregona.  From here you climb toward Grotte del Caglieron and cross a bridge over the entrance area.

Continue steeply up the hill then down to Colors, where you can go straight down to Vittorio Veneto, or turn left on Via Rive d'Anzano.   Gigi had mentioned this to me on our ride a few weeks ago- it takes you to Fratte, above Cappella Maggiore.  From Fratte I went right on Via Lughera, Via Buse and Via Fraccas to Sarmede.  From here back to Caneva and home.  Very fun ride with lots of saliscendi.
Castello di Caneva

Castello di Cordignano

Some of the pathways connecting the caves of Caglieron, viewed from the bridge 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Puppies in the Hills Part 2

One last try today traversing the hills above Giais.  Last week some guys were logging this section and though we tried skirting around them, we couldn't get past a ravine.  This time we successfully crossed from the fields north of Selva and reached the road above Glera.  Now the dogs get a free bath for their efforts. 

Junction above Glera.  The red flag means the
Italian army are live firing at the Poligono east of town 

Well done, puppies!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finally commuting to school again

I'm embarrassed to admit this was my first bike commute to school since Thanksgiving.  Always had an excuse of some sort:  bad weather, need  to stop by the supermarket or laundry etc.  In fact I'd waited so long I had an episode of reverse deja vu today, when south of San Quirino I could recognize none of my surroundings and slowed at each junction to see if I could turn and get back where I thought I was supposed to be.  Luckily this passed and I made it to school only 15 minutes early- I'd forgotten how quick the downhill leg is.  Going home with slight headwind and upgrade was an excellent workout.  I need to start riding this twice per week, like last year.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Il Gravon

Another brutal cross-training session at the hands of my personal trainers, Honey and Teddi.  They started with speed-walking to Glera, then switched to Stair-mastering up the gravel road to 540 meters.  Hiking in snow only added to the difficulty.  Then they descended rapidly with their 4-wheel drive while I slipped and stumbled, then raced home.  Afterwards I had to fork over a milk bone to each of them.  Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day.

Honey & Teddi pose above our village

Up the gravon (scree slope) toward Forcella di Giais (1442m)

Deer prints  in the snow

Teddi fearlessly looking over the edge of a vertiginous snow cliff

Honey capturing the deer's scent from a hoof print

Close up of deer print
Glera's new fontana, with animal drinking water on left,
human drinking water on the right

The gravon is the grey patch on the left

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Castello Ceconi

Through Sequals and Travesio to Via Valcosa, and up the moderate climb to Clauzetto (558m).  From here continue more steeply upward to Cristo (723m) at Pradis di Sopra.  Then down a bit to Orton and the right turn for Pielungo.  This is a wonderful road descending through a snowy forested gorge, then up to the open pastures of Forno and down again to Val d'Arzino.  Solitary and wild feeling, but a well-paved and plowed road.  I never saw any ice on the pavement, though the snow on either side was a couple of feet deep.

At Pielungo I turned left at the sign for Castello Ceconi.  Maybe a km later you reach the mansion.  Ceconi was a rich engineer who designed many roads over our mountains around the turn of the century.  So he built a beautiful house here in the style of a castle.  Marilyn, me, and Rocky our terrier came to visit in summer about 18 years ago- lots of people were enjoying the well-groomed grounds, having picnics, kids playing.  Very pleasant place.

Today it was deserted of course and everything covered with snow.  The ride back up through Pradis di Sopra was very peaceful, with wonderful views of the winter beech forests and surrounding mountains.  This was my favorite ride so far this year. 

Monte Valcalda (1908m) in the distance, shot from Cristo

The road winds upward through snowy meadows at Forno

Castello Ceconi, with Monte Flagjel (1467m)

View showing terraces supporting Castello Ceconi 

The ornate ferrobattuto front gate 
Finally got a picture of this waterfall on Torrente di Molin (normally hidden by foliage)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Costa Beorchia - Castelnovo

I headed back to Castelnovo this morning on my Merckx.  At Pinzano I took the left turn marked Costa Beorchia and immediately began ascending steeply.  It levels out then ascends, repeatedly.  After the little village of Costa Beorchia follow the road for Castelnovo.  After more ascending the lovely forest road descends/ascends repeatedly like a roller coaster to Davour La Mont.  I used to hike here over the hill from our village (Oltrerugo) with my terrier Rocky back in '94-'96.  

The road tees at a bridge, where you go right.  It winds around and goes through a little tunnel at Sottoforca.  After this, turn left and begin climbing very steeply to Vigna.  Over the crest you'll see the castello ruin and beautiful church on the hill.  Skirt right around this to Costa (from here I could see the house we lived in 19 years ago) and then continue down westward till you reach Madonna del Zucco.  From here down through Graves, across Torrente Cosa to Molevana (where we used to buy fresh cheese, butter, eggs).  Across the main road to Usago, Sequals and home.   This was great fun.  I have to go back and ride these hills some more. 

Piancavallo from Costa Beorchia

Steep gradients above Sottoforca 

Campanile of the castello ruin, Vigna
Country house, olive grove on hill

The view east from Vigna, with snowy mountains near Slovenia

Castello campanile and Chiesa di San Nicolo

Elevation profile

Much gradient over 10%

Friday, February 8, 2013

Puppies in the Hills

Today's post is unrelated to cycling, though it does provide insight into my intensive cross-training program.  I took our dogs Honey and Teddi on a nice hike in the hills above town.  They had a great time exploring and helped me find my way home- been awhile since I was up here.  You couldn't ask for better fitness companions.

The girls donned their ruggedized mountaineering gear for this expedition

Honey guards our southern flank while Teddi
samples some of the local alpine grass 

World War II bunker with olive grove;
the antenna is our wireless repeater
Upslope is to upper left; after some orienteering trials
Honey led us out of the wilderness

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Today I headed to Castelnovo del Friuli, the first place Marilyn and I lived in Italy 19 years ago.  It's a lovely hilly area south of Clauzetto with very few people- there are 37 "villages" in the area but many of them have only one or two houses.  

After Travesio I headed along Valcosa on the road toward Clauzetto.  Shortly after Paludea there is a sharp right turn for Celante.  It begins climbing immediately, winding up a small gorge at 8% to 11%.  Eventually you reach Celante and have the option of climbing on toward Clauzetto or descending to Manazzons.  I headed down the twisty road toward Manazzons intending to continue to Costa Beorchia, another fun climb in Castelnovo.

I stopped to take a picture of the chicanes on this little forest road when I noticed the bike seat was loose.  I checked the bolt, it was tight, so I figured I'd keep an eye on it and continue.  When I got ready to start the bike seat fell off.  This was a first for me (I am up to 68Kg this winter instead of my usual 65Kg summer weight- could this be the problem?)  Luckily it hadn't fallen off while descending at speed- the loss of balance could easily have resulted in a nasty crash.  I looked at the seat mast cap and noticed the aluminum seat mount was cracked off.  So I stuffed the seat in my jacket, turned around and rode home standing for 33km.  This felt very strange of course; usually I only stand briefly when starting or when climbing a very steep hill.  But I made it all the way home standing, and the time was about the same as my seated time on the way out.  I could definitely feel the difference in my quads and hamstrings- this is good exercise!

I'll try the Manazzons - Costa Beorchia climb later on my Merckx, which has been resting for the winter.  Also need to work on getting another seat mast cap (hopefully a stronger one).  

Torrente Cosa, with Col Monaco in background

Col Monaco with beautiful old church on top-
there's a path from Celante to the church

The twisty road descending to Manazzons

My poor broken seat mast cap seat mount

The missing piece of seat mount (under bolt head)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Errand run

I was supposed to do a great climbing ride today to Celante di Castelnovo, Manazzons, Costa Beorchia but my wife mentioned a list of errands I needed to run at the airbase, so I'll save the climb for another day.  Instead today I hit the credit union, library and pharmacy- only 15 miles, but thinking in other terms that's $5 worth of gas.  A drop in the bucket but you've got to get started small before you go big.  I'm trying to resume commuting to school twice weekly so maybe this little ride will give me the impetus I need.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Passo Sant' Osvaldo

This is another local training ride- up the Valcellina to Cimolais or Claut.  At the start there's a short, steep climb from Montereale up to the tunnel, but after  that you have miles of gradual climbing through a spectacular mountain gorge.  It's especially beautiful in winter when the peaks are covered with snow and the white water river has ice formations in the shady spots.

Today I opted for Cimolais then ascended for a couple of kilometers more up to Passo Sant' Osvaldo at 821 meters.   The road was plowed and salted but still quite slushy near the margins, so I descended with brakes on most of the way.  The return from Cimolais to Montereale is great fun because it's mostly downhill so you can build up some speed.  Good work out, wonderful scenery!

The road to Cimolais

In foreground: Pineda piney woods- has nice bike paths,
 lots of birds, deer, other critters

Looking back down Valcellina

The icy descent from Passo Sant'Osvaldo