Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zoncolan da Ovaro

I saw the news that Zoncolan was still covered with snow only a few weeks before the Giro, so needed to check it out.  From Tolmezzo warmed up through Villa Santina to Ovaro (490m).  Here I turned right and headed up the hill to Liariis (644m), which was steep but not worse than my usual climbs.  At the edge of Liariis the real climb begins.  

I started off standing in 34-29 for about a km.  They have nice portraits of cycling icons posted every half kilometer or so, and by the time I reached Alfredo Binda I was done for.   After that I had to stop and recover roughly every half km.  At Louis Bobet the road was so narrow I took 2 or 3 starts to clip in, and I decided to just stop at every wide spot from then on, even if I hadn't gone a half km.  Somewhere around 1500 meters I decided all this standing around to recover was taking too long and got out my cleat covers to walk.  Miraculously the gradient lessened at that very moment and I didn't end up having to walk.  

The forest now thinned and snow was everywhere except the road, which had been very well plowed and cleaned.  The only problem was at the 3 little tunnels higher up: snow melt covered the floor and near the end of the first tunnel I was suddenly on a sheet of solid ice.  My bike flipped instantly and I couldn't stand up, so I scooted on hands and knees awhile, sliding the bike along the ice.  Eventually I reached a spot covered with cinders where I could stand.  I got out of the tunnel and some German guys on Trans-Alp motorbikes came down from the top so I warned them about the ice rink.  They parked and examined the situation.  Meanwhile I donned my cleat covers and walked (baby-steps) through the 2 remaining tunnels.  From there I rode up the short steep switchbacks to the summit at 1700 meters.  Hellacious wind up here today and on the descent to Sutrio.  I thought I would be lifted off the road by gusts a couple of times.  From Sutrio easy downhill cool down to Tolmezzo.

Beautiful ride and scenery.  I think at my fitness level I need a triple however.

Val Degano villages below snowy range to west

Entrance to 2nd tunnel.  I had my cleat covers on
and was walking on eggshells

You can see the final switchbacks coming up from below 

Looking southwest

View toward the west

From the top looking south east

North east toward Austria

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