Monday, October 30, 2017

Above Rifugio Vallata

Cross the dam at Barcis and ride along the south shore until you reach Rifugio Vallata.  Don't turn into the rifugio though, ride past it 10 or 20 meters then turn left on the narrow paved lane.  This is a very cool climb because the road is constantly changing direction and pitch.  It's the opposite of those well- graded stacks of tornanti you see on other climbs: this thing is all over the place.

I was holding my own on the road bike until the junction with the dirt road from Rifugio La Pala at 766 meters, where I went into vapor lock.   I was comfortably hyperventilating when a heard some noise high above, looked up and saw a large John Deere tractor braking down the grade with a trailer full of large faggio logs.  So I'd unwittingly  chosen a good spot for my crisis, as this tractor was as wide as the road (which has no shoulders, only immediate forested slopes). 

Before long I was underway again and made it up to 927 meters, ending on a not too steep stretch of gravel road.  I remembered from MTBing up here a few years ago it gets very steep and rough right after this.  

The descent was dreamy if cold, even with full winter kit (except shoe covers).  Must repeat in late Spring after snowmelt.   

Reflective lake

View east

The steepness 

First time on Michelin Power Endurance,
great traction

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Casera Resettum

The mountains around Claut seem particularly wild to me.  Maybe it's because Claut is almost completely surrounded by peaks, with only Valcellina offering an escape route.  The most prominent peak blocking the southern flank is Monte Resettum, which I'm making my third attempt on today.

After parking at Claut I rode toward Lesis, missing the turn off and ending up at the fossilized dinosaur footprint trailhead.  I backtracked and finally found the hidden turn.  The road is concrete at first, then turns to sterrata.  It's steep but I just put the bike in low gear and kept spinning.  Near the area where I  was previously defeated by deep snow (in May 2015) I topped out and continued on to Casera Resettum.  The forest opens up here and you can see 360 degrees of mountains.  I was most impressed. 

The ride down was fun.  I passed some Corpo Forestale officers in a stopped Land Rover, then later they passed me on the steep dirt road.  Later I came around a bend and the road was now blocked by a large tree a fellow had cut down.  The Corpo Forestale guys waved me on and seemed disappointed I dismounted instead of using my trials bike skills to climb up and over this 3 foot diameter trunk.  

This is a beautiful ride which I will try next summer to connect Forcella Clautana with the trail to Lago Ca' Selva.  I'm confident I can do it, but  I need to wait for longer days to come around.      

Coming from Claut make this dogleg turn onto the gravel road

Mountains to west of Casera Resettum

View east from Casera Resettum


View southwest

Spectacular Monte Resettum

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Monte Cuar MTB

This is a classic ride into the mountains rising above the Tagliamento River.  I parked at Cornino and warmed up through Peonis before turning left toward Cjanet.  This is a paved stack of switchbacks, I'm guessing built by Italian military.  Around 490 meters an unmarked rough gravel road veers off acutely, immediately heading upward.  Today was extra fun because the stones were covered by a thick layer of spiny chestnut husks.  They seemed to provide some extra cushion to the surface.

Eventually this road joins the paved road from Monte Prat to Avasins.  I couldn't remember the route so I followed the signs to Malga Cuar.  This turns out to be the hiking trail CAI 815, which is steep and too rough to MTB.  After awhile I came to my senses and hiked back to the road with my heavy bike.  After more aimless riding I turned around and found the gravel road I was looking for, unmarked except for a Malga Cuar sign pointing in the wrong direction.  

Now the sun was shining, the road was not too steep, and all was well again.  Up and up it goes until it wraps around to the north slope, shady and cool.  This time the cushioning  is supplied by a deep layer of fallen faggio (beech) leaves, which sounded almost like crunching snow as I passed through them.

Finally the levels off some, the beech leaves give way to grassland, and a spectacular panorama opens up. To the north, east, and west  mountains are everywhere, while to the south, the steep grassy slopes of Monte Cuar and Monte Flagjel filled the field of view.

It was cold and I bundled up quickly.  The ride down was gorgeous and easy.  No need to avoid rocks like on a road bike, just let it roll.  I'll try to return next summer and hike to the summit.

Do not turn right for Malga Cuar; construction is complete,
you can go straight ahead on the gravel road

View to north

Toward Cuar

Lago Cavazzo, Monte Festa, Monte San Simeone

Flagjel summit looks easy

Climb from  river bank to
Monte Prat-Avasins road

Climb to near Malga Cuar

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lama di Som loop MTB

Another MTB ride, this time on the dirt road from Polcenigo to Lama di Som; steep but not impossibly so.  When you finally reach Lama di Som there's a brief paved section (a branch off of the road to La Crosetta),  then the dirt returns, with concrete on the steepest stretches.  At the top I turned east onto the panaramica Cansiglio-Piancavallo.  Quite foggy higher up,  but at least it was nice and cool.  That was all that saved me from this18 km long 1300 meter high behemoth. 

Note: pardon my lack of photos, climbed too hard plus it was foggy 

The first flat spot, Lama di Som 

Another flat spot, directing you uphill  

From Polcenigo  to junction
with road to Piancavallo

Starting out in Polcenigo with 10 km of 9.5%

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Castello di Montereale MTB

Another day of cross-training, this time on the MTB.  I rode to Montereale and just before the cemetery turned left onto the switchbacks up to the overlook at Diga di Ravedis.  From there I mostly pushed the bike up to the castello.m  Walked around and shot some pictures, then headed down toward the west.  Eventually I crossed over the top of the tunnel above Montereale, pushed up another steep stretch, then started riding to the junction with road toward Osservatorio Astronomico, then turned downhill toward Montereale.  This is a great short ride, and when I get acclimated to the MTB again I'll be able to ride more of it.  

Diga di Ravedis overlook

Colorful trees at castello

Lago di Ravedis from castello

Ruins with Monte Fara and Monte Raut backdrop

Trees with Monte Jouf backdrop

Ruins above the lake

Cannonball exit wound (?)  above Torrente Cellina

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Monte Ciastelat-Pala Fontana Hike

A little cross-training today, trekking in the mountains above our village instead of pedaling.  I hiked from Pian delle More up through rocky Casera Dietro Ciastelat to Monte Ciastelat at 1641 meters.  This is a rocky knob with 360 degree views.     

Unlike my previous visit I decided to try going along the rim trail to Pala Fontana (1637 meters).  Great views along the ridgeline straight down to Giais where we live.  Descending from Pala Fontana  down to Forcella di Giais (1442 meters) was the trickest part because of the downhill steepness.  I used my trekking poles almost like crutches to keep my knees from hurting.  I was glad it worked. 

After the forcella it's flatter and you can make up time.  Beautiful hike on an unusually warm October day  Can't wait to go snowshoeing up here in a few months.

View north

Monte Ressetum to northeast

Torrente Cellina


Pala Fontana from the east

Stone circle livestock pastures at
Casera Dietro Castelat  

Note: the Garmin Oregon recorded 300 meters low today, so please ignore the altimetria figures.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


We're enjoying Indian Summer, or l'estate di San Martino as they call it here, so  I seized the opportunity to climb some passes along the Slovene border.  I started from Chiusaforte and climbed through Val Raccolana to Passo di Selle Nevea (1195 meters).  Startled to see a couple MTBing up this pass with their well-trained dog trotting alongside their bikes on a lead.

Now you descend steeply down to Lago del Predil then climb up to the Slovene border at Passo del Predil (1160 meters).  Some interesting fortresses here from the Austria vs Napoleon war in early 1800s.

After a long descent you end up at Kluze fortress from the same period, and finally the Soca River.  This begins the longest part of the ride: beautiful scenery with saliscendi stepwise rising to 600 meters.
It just seemed long because I kept anticipating the main event: the climb to Passo di Vrsic.  Eventually I reached the start of the pass, with a 49 tornanti sign.  Slovenia adds both sides of the pass together, so the climb from the south really had only 20 switchbacks or so.

After about 4 tornanti I pulled over, stripped off my long sleeve jersey and winter tights, then proceeded in bike shorts only.  Either that or heat stroke, I was in survival mode.  I managed to reach the pass without stopping at 1603 meters.  It was quite crowded with tourists taking advantage of the warm weather.  The descent was easier of course but quite torn up with construction.  This older road was built by Russian prisoners in WW I with cobblestone pavement.  Slovenia is preserving this history, which I admire and accept the added maintenance delays.

Finally I reached Kranskja Gora and turned toward Italy.  This is another interminable road which mercifully leads to the Alpe Adria bikeway at Tarvisio, built on the roadbed of a disused railway.  So wonderful riding with only other bikers and walkers away from the traffic.  This peaceful path continues to Pontebba and on to Grado on the Adriatico, but today I was tired and took a shortcut on SS13 after Ugovizza.  So relieved to reach the car again at Chiusaforte, stanco di morte.

View from Selle Nevea toward the north

From Sella Nevea looking south

Mangart from near Lago del Predil

Golden trees at Vrsic

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Vrsic climb