Jerry’s Tour of the Alps 2010 – Friday July 16th

Velo Veronese — Passo Gioichè — Passo del Zovo — Passo di Campogrosso — Passo Xon — Lusiana-Conco — Romano d’Ezzelino (155 km, 3253m, 16%, 24-37°C)

Passo Gioichè

Another nice day started, and it was warm already before the first descent from Velo Veronese (1084m) to Val d’Illasi and Bernardi (602m). I met some cyclists on their way up to Velo Veronese, who had been smarter than me and started earlier. A few were older people with old road bikes. Down at Bernardi another cyclist turned off the road from below just were I also thought I should take off and thus I followed him for a while, but he was quicker and I decided to take it a bit easy at the start today so I let him go. This little road was sign-posted for Campofontana (I believe) and is a very narrow and a little rough road. It was climbing somewhat steeply though.

Suddenly I came to a crossroad (919m) and I think it said the left-hand choice went to Campofontana, but I just wanted to get straight up as quickly as possible, so I decided to take a chance on the right hand road. It was very local in style higher up and had some rough spots, but was on the whole quite good and asphalted. This road goes directly to Tebaldi (1099m), while the other road to Campofontana (1205m) is actually a bit harder and longer as one have to descend back to Tebaldi from there. The last stretch in the open landscape to Passo Gioichè (1146m) was nice and the other side of this pass is even nicer. It is a very nice area to go cycling in and the altitudes are not so high, so I guess the local cyclists have nice rides in the area earlier in the year.

I stopped down at Ferrazza by a grocery, to buy a 1.5 litre soda maybe a sandwich. It was hot down here, but nice people at the shop. I continued down to Crespadoro (337m) and turned up through this rather big village with many houses along the road for a long time. The climb goes to Marana (786m) and is a bit steep. The road reaches 817m just after Marana and here it descends a little and continues somewhat flat to Passo del Zovo (Zovo di Castelvecchio/Marana) (765m). (The pass is marked on a map at the pass.)

Passo di Campogrosso

From here I thought it was fun to just guess my way down, knowing there should be several alternative roads down Valdagno or Maglio Superiore, where I went. I think I came out on the main road at 283m height and soon stopped by a café to have an ice cream. Here a road goes east over the more well known Passo Zovo (Zovo di Novale) (631m), but I was on my way up to Recoare Terme (442m), where I once again stopped to buy a coca-cola. It was no longer very hot today and it had become a little cloudy and therefore I was not totally convinced it would be a good idea to start out on an ambitious climb up here toward the clouds. Also I basically had to choose doing this climb or another planned climb up the Asiago plain, but in the end I found the climb up to Passo di Campogrosso (1458m) to be more fun to have done.

Passo di Campogrosso is a pass I had wanted to do visit before, but now had the chance to climb from the interesting side. It is also a BIG climb and a decently hard one. It is easy to find the road as it is simply to continue straight through the village and up through the winding road with many houses along the way. One climbs the Val Frizzi to Merendaore (712m) with a big round building. The road continues to wind its way up through the mountain and when one reaches Rifugio la Guardia (a big restaurant) (1133m), there is only the final set of steep serpentines to the top. One reaches a crossroads and then the Rifugio Campogrosso (1452m), but the pass is located a bit after the rifiguio.

Passo di Campogrosso

The other road at the crossroads is the well known strada di Ossario del Pasubio with a monument from the war, but I heard (or saw a sign) that it was not passable due to a landslide. I did not much mind as I had been to the other end of the road before at Passo Pian delle Fugazze (1163m), but was a bit curious as it went higher (1481m). I went into the rifugio up here to see if I wanted to get something there, but it looked kind of boring and I turned around and decided to go down the valley until it was warmer again. I stopped at the restaurant between La Guardia and Merendaore, which had no customers (one old man came in later) and ordered a pasta and aqua frizzante and had a better look on the mountains up there on the photos framed on the walls (see the photo here).

I had memorized an alternative road to Passo Xon bypassing Recoare Terme and since I was in explorer mood now, I decided to try and find it. Few locals probably even know of this way, so do not worry if you do not find it. Passo Xon is a very easy climb anyway. Just as you get back to Merendaore, take off the first asphalted road and go straight ahead. Follow this road around a pass-like bend and keep your eyes open for a road going left with asphalt surface with a sign saying Contrada Ceola and cycle carefully down there as it turns to steep concrete with some debris on. (Not even the most detailed local technical map shows this road fully!)

Passo di Campogrosso

Then from the bridge at the end of Contrada Ceola (585m) I had a very short and easy climb to Passo Xon (669m), where my last photo from the day was taken. I had plenty of better photos this day that got lost by the camera that broke and the experts at the photo developer company in town here trying to develop them claimed something had been wrong before with my camera (not likely, but). This last stretch up to Passo Xon from Recoare Terme is nice, but otherwise it is a slightly boring passage. Down at Valli del Pasubio (342m), I had again planned to do another climb and in retrospect that climb might have been a bit more interesting than the one I eventually did. I had still not decided if there were time enough to climb up to the Asiago plateau or not and decided I better go in that direction so I would not risk to get to Bassano del Grappa too late to pick up my starting ticket for the Monte Grappa Challenge the next day. Originally I had here planned to get to Passo di Santa Caterina (727m) on another obscure road via Enna/Cortivo that should be asphalted. Then continue to Passo del Colletto Piccolo (898m), where the road should turn to gravel a bit before and also the nearby Passo del Colletto Grande (885m) that are located on the road to Monte Summano above Schio.

Instead, I went through Schio and had another ice cream. The flat road from Schio was a bit boring, but did not last as long it looked. At Caltrano (229m), I am not quite sure which road I took as it was a bit confusing, but I know I wanted to go to the east here and not up toward Asiago, and so I did. At Calvene (172m), I decided to at least get up to Lusiana (744m), which should be a nice climb. So here I started the last climb for the day up the mountainside toward the Asiago plateau. It was indeed a quite nice road to climb, with some steeper stretches and some easier. I could see a village far above (still not sure if it was Lusiana). At Lusiana, which is a busy big village with many cars, I continued on the road to Conco via Vitaralo (759m). After climbing again from 717m to 838m, I reached Conco and then it was all downhill to Bassano del Grappa on a lovely wide road with open views over the flat land below.

Passo Xon

I went down pretty quickly, but it looked like I would have more than enough time to get to Romano d’Ezzelino (outside Bassano) before 20 pm. Even descents takes time however (esp. as I am not an Italian and becomes more afraid for each year passing in going down at high speed) and this descent is not very steep either. I went straight into the centre of Bassano del Grappa (113m) and hoped to find my way through as I had memorized more or less where to go, but there were many strange redirections of traffic in the city so it took some time to get through, but eventually I was on my way even if I had seen no signs for the village next by. When I came to Romano d’Ezzelino (153m) the time I had left before 20 pm when they should close the registration booth where they handed out the starting kits was only 15 minutes and I got nervous. No signs of any Monte Grappa Challenge taking place anywhere to be found. I asked two women if they knew of a nearby ‘campo sportivo’ (sports field) which is were I had to go and they told of one nearby and I found the way, but there was nothing there, only a tennis court. I asked two people again there and learned that there is another campo sportivo in Romano and I managed to memorize the road description as well as I understood and hurried on and got to the place just in time.

I received a load of things to take with me including a big bath towel and told them that I could not take anything more than what I could take with me on the race. But I kept some sort of sports drink to drink up soon afterwards and a pair of socks. I talked a little with some people and then went up to the hotel, Trattoria della Mena (252m), before it started to get dark. I had dinner outside and a beer later on. Washed all the clothes and put all the things needed for the race the next day in place and set the alar clock for 5 am or something such … .