With only two summers’ experience of the area I can’t pretend to be an expert, but if annual weather averages are anything to go by, this August must be one of the more unusually changeable ones. Average maximums in August are normally in the low 30s, but I would guess it’ll be a few degrees below that this year (but still mostly very pleasant for someone from England!)
Until yesterday I hadn’t been up to the Vercors this August (not even a dash up the Col de Rousset), and with the Meteo France website forecasting full-on sun all yesterday, I set off for a col-bagging expedition to Col de la Bataille and Col de la Chau (to document both for this blog). This was the reverse of a ride I did last summer, and would be the first time I’d ridden the ascent from Mirabel et Blacons to Leoncel.
Well, to cut a long story short, I ascended the 1100m from Mirabel to Col de la Bataille in warm sunshine, albeit with a stiff headwind most of the way. On the very last part of the climb I was aware of some clouds lower down in the valley on my left, but nothing prepared me for the amazing sight at the top: arriving at the short (50m) tunnel in sunshine, I looked through the tunnel to see dark grey swirling cloud/fog at the far end. It was like some science-fiction portal to another dimension. Having been caught out by Vercors weather before, spending two rain-soaked and foggy hours between Col de Rousset and Col de la Bataille last August, I decided to beat a hasty retreat back down to Leoncel. Five minutes were spent in the cold and wet, but then a return to a dry and warm Leoncel, followed by a tailwind-driven descent back to Mirabel et Blacons. By the time I got home I’d done 95 miles, and was happy I’d made the right decision quickly.
In other news, my bottom bracket is now running beautifully again, though it took the excellent mechanic at Vélodrôme a little while to get all the adjustments spot on. From experience it seems that Cannondale’s BB30 ‘improvement’ gives bike mechanics a bit of a headache.
In due course I’ll add one or two photos from the aborted Vercors ride (including the spooky tunnel), but for now, here’s a nice homewards view (taken with the phone camera) from my slightly roundabout walk to pick up the repaired bike. It shows the lushness that this year’s weather has produced.