I woke up a little frozen as it was not very warm here, but I got a little warm shower again and went downstairs and got something for breakfast. I had actually realised before I went to bed the day before that I had forgotten to get more money and had tried to both explain this and offer a solution that I would be happy with. The first they understood well and they thought it would be solved fine in the morning, but the later point they might not have understood all perfectly, or possibly the man joked with me in the morning (hard to tell). He thought I could get down to Paularo and get back up with the money (€30 which was all fair for the dinner and lodging), but this was pretty high up on the pass road (well it did not include the very hard last part, but still). I decided to try and locate the place on the Internet and it took me almost an hour to find it, due to many name variations. The agriturismo Al Cippo (also called Malga Valbertat Bassa) actually has a website (which states it only cost €23 for half-pension, but saw in the source code that the web page was done in 2008 and maybe not updated since then). It is located at 1403m height on the west climb to Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß (1557m).
Thus the climb back up here again would be almost like a full mountain climb. My idea was that I could leave the money with someone down in Paularo that they know. The lady told me it would be fine in the evening to leave the money to Paulo in Paularo and saying it was for her as she used to go down shopping in his shop. So I repeated this to the man and he looked like, “well maybe the guy will pay, maybe not”. Oh well, I certainly intended to pay and said goodbye and went down to Paularo to see Paulo.
It is first steeply down and then there is a 131m climb before it starts to get a little less steep down to Paularo. I stopped at the same place for a photo as I had stopped in 2000 and the fence looked just as rusty and old as it did then. The views were as nice. Down at Paularo (646m) I followed the main road up and down into the centre where I fooled around for quite some time asking people about a shop called Paulo, but soon started to realise that there was no shop called Paulo, but only a man working in one of the shops with that name. The lady (Bella … something) had described more or less where the shop was located and as I suspected a grocery there, a boy confirmed that Paulo was working there.
I ordered a coca-cola and sandwich in the busy and very nice grocery and finally asked for Paulo and explained I had money to leave for the lady up on the Lanza road. The girl there said she were a friend of the lady and took the money (I guess Paulo was the man standing next by, if I got it right). They were very nice anyway and the sandwich was very good! Time to move on and do some climbing as the weather was now perfect!
The road out west from Paularo is narrow and steep at start, but becomes wider and less steep higher up. Forcella di Liûs (1003m) is reached after a little descent from 1069m. On this little descent I noticed a small asphalt road going up to the left and followed it until the asphalt unfortunately soon ended. From there I had great views however and took a photo before returning (the second photo here). I had originally planned to get up to Monte Paularo (1953m) from here, but it is long road with gravel surface for the last several kilometres and given the weather of yesterday, I did not give it much thought this day.
I went down to Paluzza via Tàusia, where I had another photo in the direction of Sella Valcalda and Monte Zoncolan, where I was heading now. It is a nice alternative road to the normal road down here. At Paluzza I continued down the main road to a gas station, where I got help cleaning my bicycle so it looked good again in the fine weather. The I went over to Sùtrio, where I stopped for a coffee before I headed over to Priola on a minor road. There are three asphalt roads leading to Monte Zoncolan (1739m). The climb from Ovaro (530m) on the west side is the classic climb that I did back in 2003 before they improved the road for the Giro d’Italia later on. This is the hardest approach. The easiest climb is the road up from Sùtrio (531m) which is easy as far as they went up (to a ski station) in Giro d’Italia the first time they got the idea to climb the Monte Zoncolan and then hard to the top. But there is also a relatively recently fully asphalted road up from Priola (581m), which is very little used and this road is nearly as hard to climb as the road from Ovaro.
The road from Priola is also a bit harder due to the fact that it has many drainage gullies and debris on the road, and it is very narrow and twisty. The last part on the main road on the east side is probably the hardest though and is much harder than the last part of the climb up from Ovaro. So, this is a fabulous climb from either side and one of the hardest in all of the Alps. I was prepared that it would be a hard climb and thus was not finding it harder than I had anticipated, but the very last part was really hard up to Sella di (Monte) Zoncolan (1739m).
The descent to Ovaro was nicer than I had remembered it, but climbing that side you do have other things to think about. Lower down it is mostly wooded. Since there is a lot of braking needed to get down I got a little worried of over-heating the rims, and tried to take it a bit easy and let go of the brakes then and now for short stretches. It could be hard getting down here in rain and it is reasonably hard anyway! I did not go down all the way to Ovaro, but turned up to Clavais (815m) from Liàriis (682m) on a fine road.
At Clavias it became a little confusing and I asked a man about whether I could take the very narrow road ahead to Comeglians and apparently I could. This road is fully asphalted even if not noted so on any map, and they do not need to change this. It had ca. 1 km of the worst asphalted road I have possibly ever seen, but I managed to navigate it without having to go off the bicycle. Down and then up and then down again to Comeglians (541m). There were nice views along the road, so I did not regret taking it. I noticed announcements in Comeglians talking about the Giro d’Italia going up the Panoramica delle Vette (Monte Crostis) road for the first time, but apparently the Giro pulled out of this just before going here.
I had a coca-cola and something before starting out on the climb up this Panoramica delle Vette (Monte Crostis) 1982m), that I climbed another time, but had to return back down just as I was only metres away from reaching the high point as I got a terrible weather coming in and nearly had to jump off my bicycle on the descent as I could not make the brake handle the massive rain and steep slope. So I always wanted to go back here again in fine weather and now was the time.
I had looked on the map and noticed that one could make this climb a little harder still by going via Noiaretto on the way up to Tualis and so I did. This stretch has the steepest section on the whole climb and it is sad this is not included at salite.ch as it would make a closer match with the hardness of the climbs up to Monte Zoncolan (but it is mentioned in the comments to the standard profile, although they state the height as 1934m, but it is indeed 1982m). On the steep ramp (ca. 20%) up through Noiaretto there were something written on the ground encouraging cyclists to get going.
I had remembered the climb as being harder, but forgot that it got harder toward the end when you start to get tired. It is a relatively boring climb in the woods for quite some time above Tualis, but when it starts to open up above the trees it is quite a wonderful climb. The views are always good on the long top section. I reached the top point where they had raised a monument for te Giro d’Italia as having visited this place earlier this year, but they never did, so a lot of work here done for nothing. But hopefully they can get back another time. I think there were only two drainage gullies along the way of the same dangerous sort as on the Cason di Lanza climb. When descending the Cason di Lanza I had thought about that they could possibly cover those drainage gullies with some thin metal sheets when they did not need to be open and indeed this was just what they had done here at a few places (possibly in preparation for the Giro).
It was such a lovely weather at the top here this day. Two German motorcyclists came by and took a photo of me and we discussed the poor state of the Passo di Cason di Lanza road and agreed that it was much less good than this. I continued down the road ahead that descneds and then turns to gravel. The gravel section has been augmented from earlier and there were only one short 5-10m section where it was difficult to cycle with a road bike. Otherwise it was all fine for a road bikes. It has some rather dangerously steep slope on the sides at a couple of places and they had put up some plastic fences at the side at some of those places (possibly also because the Giro was supposed to go all this way and that I did). The Giro probably found the road a bit too bad still and maybe dangerous in some spots.
I went off the bicycle at a place that looked like a pass on maps, but noted it was a short 30m walk up a path to the pass, but still it was worth getting up there to get some very nice views east which could be seen in photos here. Eventually the asphalt returned when the road started to descend and the asphalt road had seen a lot of recent work, which was both for good and bad as they also had some rather nasty new wooden drainage gullies and also because the road was only newly asphalted in part and kept suddenly changing from perfect to terrible asphalt which was almost dangerous to descend at high speed. There were some tricky places along the descent that would make me think twice about racing down here, so maybe this was also the real problem for the Giro (and a few dangerous places on the gravel section). I think they may try and make the road a bit better still. It is a wonderful road for cyclists out cycling like me however.
Eventually I got down to Sella Valcalda (950m) and the nice smooth road back down to Comeglians. Now I went over on the other side of the Degano river to Luincis and down opposite to Ovaro at Cella. Here the road starts to climb up to Muina (527m) (down from 570m). In Muina I asked a man looking tired and very dirty (oily hands and clothes) crossing the road if it was possibly to get to Raveo by following the road straight ahead. He happily confirmed that it was indeed possible, so I continued.
The road soon starts to climb. I made a wrong choice of road once when turning into a house, but it was only a short way back. The road turned worse, but was still okay and occasionally it got a bit better. It is very narrow and sometimes steep, but lovely. Eventually the road turned to gravel – I had not asked about this and have thought in planning that maybe part of it was still gravel and so it was but a little shorter stretch than what I had thought based upon satellite images. This part was mostly flat and only shortly it was not so good. I reached asphalt again when I came out on the road from Raveo straight up the mountainside here. I went a little up on this road, but did not want to go up all the way and returned down via Stavolo Quas (832m), which could be said to be the pass here.
The extremely tight serpentines down from Stavolo Quas must be exceptional (similar to the gravel serpentines on Col de Tende on the French side in the south of the Alps), but steeper. Down at Raveo I noticed a bar and then came to the little centre and asked a woman there if she knew about any nearby place to stay for the night. She was talking about getting down to the main road somewhere, but then also suggested that I could probably stay at the restaurant/bar I had just passed by. I really do not want to stay very low, so decided to ask at the place in Raveo and sure enough they had a room even if there was no mention of it anywhere and I was obviously the only guest, though they had several rooms.
I got some very good food (esp. the pasta dish was great) and some wine and sparkling water. There were two others eating, but they soon left. It was a very good place for the money and the area is quite nice.