Sunday, August 28, 2016

Via Cate

Via Cate is a traverse between 2 climbs, similar to Panaramica delle Vette.  I reached it by climbing up from Sarone to Il Cansiglio (packed with tourists today) then down to Tambre in Alpago.  Via Cate climbs from here not too steeply to Pianon.  From there the road levels out somewhat and follows the curve of the mountainside to Casera Cate and on to Villagio 1000.  I turned around there because a few years ago I'd climbed to Pian Formosa and was too tired to try that again.  Went back the same way.  Fun ride.
Note: I rode the Viner but never used the 32 cog.  I'm trying to save it for the crazy steep pitches.

View down into Alpago from Via Cate (paravalange)

Monte Messer above

Monte Pastour above Casera Cate

Colorful balcone at Pianon

The climb from Sarone 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Strada del Patriarca

I intended to ride up the killer climb from Rugolo to Col Alt  but the road to Rugolo was impassable so I reversed my tracks.  I explored a short road to Meridiana di Casa Bianca, with some 20% gradient.  The Potenza 11-32 worked like a champ.  Also used it briefly on a little side road called Val Bona above Castello di Cordignano.  I headed up Strada del Patriarca and turned off at Pian di Salere.  Pretty area but I barely saw a fraction of it.  Now I got down to business and rode up Strada del Patriarca to the junction with Cansiglio/Sarone road at 900 meters.  Rode down fast and then home.  

Landslide on road to Rugolo

Olive grove and prosecco vineyard at Meridiana di Casa Bianca

Strada del Patriarca

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chorus 11 compact with 11-32 cassette

When the news broke about Campy's new Potenza 11-32 cassette I ordered one.  Wasn't sure if it would work but it seemed possible.  Also ordered a medium cage Potenza derailleur in case of chain length problems.  Today I finally got around to installing the cassette on Viner Maxima and preliminary testing (ride around the village) seems promising.  All the gears work on small ring and only the 50-32 cross chain is unusable on big ring.  That I never use.  I'll try to give it a proper test tomorrow up some 18-20% grade.

Note: the Potenza lockring is heavy chrome steel, so I tried substituting the Chorus alloy lockring.  Didn't work at first, then I noticed the spacing was different with the Potenza 11-tooth cog and lockring.  With Chorus 11-tooth cog and lockring plus the rest of the Potenza cassette it works great.

 Maybe I'll be able to climb at last

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Zoncolan da Sutrio

I intended to climb a new back country route up Zoncolan via Priola, but riding through Priola I never saw the indication for the turn off, so I soon arrived at the big wide road from Sutrio.  I decided to do that climb and look for the other one for next time.  The bottom half until1200 meters is a good steady climb: 8 km averaging 8.4%.

At Zoncolan ski area everything changes and the road becomes a steep twisty narrow lane.  I managed to finish without stopping, but just barely.  The final stretch to the cycling memorial and  road coming up from Ovaro slew me.  Luckily I forgot my misery when I saw the views from the gravel road along the ridge at 1730 meters.

Very fun fast descent on the wider tires with discs.  Great workout.

View west from top of climb

Close up of Val Pesarina

Close up of valley climbing to Forni Avoltri

Peaks along Austrian border rising above Monte Crostis ridgeline

Looking down at Zoncolan ski area at 1200 meters 

Found the top of road from Priola but it has an
 order posted closing it. Maybe I'll try again later.

The steepness is concentrated in the top end 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Via Guitcillo da Montanara

A big storm blew away all the haze last night; now the sky is crisp and clear.  I rode Fedaia to Sarmede, up the hill to Rugolo and on to Montaner.  Here you find a side street marked Via Guitcillo da Montanara and head upward.  Almost immediately I hit a 19% wall which I stood in the pedals for.  The gradient drops down to mid teens which I sustained until 450 meters, then I hopped off and walked to the next switchback end.  I thought I would have to do this repeatedly but as it turned out I stopped only that one time.  

Eventually you reach a grassy path and continue up through the houses till 850 meters.  A man in front of the last house said the road finishes here.  I asked if I could walk through the woods carrying my bike: he said I could try.  So I went up past the hunting blind, through the thorny blackberry bushes and up a stack of rocks till joining the gravel road (to Villagio, the man had said).  

I tried another road hoping to find a way to bypass the portage in future, but it dead ended.  So I headed up the gravel road then down until reaching the main highway from Vittorio Veneto to il Cansiglio.  Here I headed down quickly to Osigo, traversed to Montaner and took the shortcut down to Sarmede.   Great ride on a gorgeous day. 

The unmarked, uncleared 120 meter climb to the gravel road

The view to the west

Southwest view, with Colli Euganei on horizon (south of Padova)

Steep climb

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Monte Crostis

It's been a couple of years since I last visited Monte Crostis, Panaramica delle Vette, and the descent to Ravascletto,  one of the most beautiful areas in Friuli IMO.  The climb is hard but the huge fir trees and scenic views of valleys and surrounding mountains keep you motivated.  At the top you descend a bit then join the panaramica, with miles of packed red gravel traversing steep grassy slopes, shrieking marmots, waterfalls and wildflowers.  Eventually you reach the paved descent to Ravascletto, yet more spectacular scenery.  This descent was a good check ride for retorque of the Fedaia's front brake rotor center lock ring.  It was clunking under hard braking, presumable snugged down with a gear cluster tool but never torqued.  Now it's rock solid.   

If you're in the area check Crostis out.  Really an outstanding ride. 

Looking back toward Comeglians and Valdegana

View back toward the top of the climb

Gorgeous grassy slopes surrounding an old casera

Marmots loudly spreading news of danger

The ridge coming up from Val delle  Streghe; last year
I tried to MTB from  Paluzza to the panaramica.  Must try again.  

I'm guessing WW I tunnel entrance
near start of descent to Ravascletto 

Max grade is wrong; should read 18%

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Malga Fara

Partly cloudy this morning and the previsione called for mountain thunderstorms in the afternoon so I picked a short ride.  Up through the 4 km tunnel, right toward Andreis and then onto the road for Pala Barzana.  Just above Bosplans I took a right for Malga Fara.  This road doesn't mess around with switchbacks, etc: it just heads up.  I stood on the pedals for everything harder than 15% and the rest I just gutted out.  At the top I snapped some fotos and headed down.  When you rejoin the Pala Barzana road gradients are again are in the 14% - 16% range but soon let  up and you reach the top. Fun glide down to Valdifrina, Valcolvera, Maniago and home. Didn't get rained on.

View from Malga Fara to west 

View northwest

View north

View northeast

Andreis to Malga Fara climb

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cuel di Forchia

This is a tough climb starting at Avesinis, near Lago di Cavazzo.  It's hard enough to have been included in the 2006 Giro d'Italia.  On the plus side, it's mostly shady so even in August you don't vaporlock.  I made it to the top without stopping, which may be a first for me.  After the top you descend a bit and climb to Cuel di Forchia, a little pass with trailhead for MTBers/hikers to Monte Cuar and Monte Flagjel.  After a bit more descending you reach the junction to Pielungo and Monte Prat, site of 2015 Italian Cyclocross National Championship.

At Monte Prat you descend on beautiful switchbacks to Forgaria.  Fedaia brakes worked perfectly and the handling on the twisties was splendid.  Maybe my imagination but the rolling ride home seemed easier on the new bike.  Could be the fit.

Monte Ragogna across the Tagliamento from Monte Prat.

The fontana north of Pinzano: potable water!

The climb

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Col Visentin

Rode Fedaia to Vittorio Veneto, then from Longhere to Piani di Grassi.  Was glad to see the start of the Col Visentin dirt road at 1100 meters has been paved.  Alas, the asfalt ends at 1400 meters.  From here the road is as rough as ever.  Despite my best attempt to emulate Jack the Cyclocross Racer I could only ride about a fifth of the remaining distance to Col Visentin.  I walked the other bits.  I was able to ride down though, providing amusement for passing MTBers.    

The Legend Fedaia was again a joy to ride.  Very smooth and easy to toss into a curve on a good line. Makes the miles seem to pass almost effortlessly.

North toward Dolomiti Bellunese 

On the right the green meadows of
Mezzomiglio, above Il Cansiglio

Northeast is Belluno and Piave Valley leading to Cadore

West toward Monte Grappa

Start of the newly paved road: looks white because
the asfalt is surfaced with lentil-sized gravel

Tough climb (I didn't include the gravel
section from 1400 meters to Col Visentin)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Zuglio - Val Lauco

I parked at Tolmezzo, rode Fedaia across Torrente But and warmed up on the ride to Zuglio.   There's a church above town I've been wanting to check out, so I headed steeply upward to the village of  Fielis.  San Pietro church is the main attraction, but also many Ferragosto holidayers.  I headed back down: the front brake honking goose is gone after repeatedly scrubbing the disc with alcohol.  It  was pretty oiley.

Next I found the road for Sezza and headed upward again.  Above Sezza it becomes a rolling forest road eventually reaching Fusea.  The Giro rode this route in the opposite direction in 2003 enroute to Zoncolan via Sutrio.  Hard to imagine now it's so deserted.  After Fusea more climbing to Curiedi, down into a ravine at Rio Chiantone, climb back out of ravine to Buttea, descend to Rio Dongieaga, climb to Vinaio, then the big climb to Val di Lauco, descending to end of pavement at Trischiamps.  After returning to Vinaio even the easy climb to Lauco seemed hard.  Wonderful switchbacks down to Villa Santina: the 28mm Michelin Pro 4s are a joy to ride, feel like full suspension after years on 23mm tires pumped rock-hard to avoid pinch flats.   Back to Tolmezzo on the flat main road and then drove home, utterly knackered.

San Pietro church with mountains to east

Crucifix carved from a tree trunk, Fielis 

San Pietro church from the southeast

Wild backcountry above Trischiamps

Over these hills is Monte Arvenis (near Zoncolan)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Goodbye, Old Paint

Bought my used Merckx Bound in 2007 from a fellow in Porto Sant'Elpidio, Le Marche.  It was carbon, 10-speed Chorus, very posh for me.  I was just getting over a long illness and this bike got me going places and accomplishing feats I would never have dreamed of.  More than a bike for me, it was therapist, rehab department, up to every challenge, and never saying no, you can't do that.  But there's no room left in the stable now and the old girl has to go to a new owner.  So long, faithful companion. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monte Valinis paved

Artisan framebuilder Marco Bertoletti arrived at my house (!) to investigate my brake issue.  The brakes needed to be filled with fluid as it turned out, so he did that and now they work great (though they honk like an air horn when applied hard).  I think the pads maybe were contaminated with fluid so I'll sort that.  

To test them I tried a nearby climb I've neglected lately, Monte Valinis.   The weather is warm again and the haze has begun returning.  At Meduno I climbed up to the forcella and then started the Valinis climb.  When I reached the cattle gate at 900 meters I was startled to see they've now paved the road all the way to the hang glider launch ramp.  Much easier now without the big round rocks.  In fact it was crowded with parapendio pilots, fun to watch.

Good ride and thank you Marco!


Colline di Sequals far below

A small sample of the parapendi and hangliders
zooming around Monte Valinis

The malga and mountainous backdrop

From a different angle

It's a good workout too