Last ride for now: Col de Menée and Mont Aiguille

Trusting Météo France’s forecast, I decided that today I had to head in another direction and get some height. Certainly this week has proved what a great base for cycling Die is, as the combination of wind and changeable weather has meant an avoidance of the high cols (still cold), Vercors (shrouded in cloud and rain most of the week), and anything too far south east (long slogs into powerful headwinds to get home). There’s something in every direction from Die, and as soon as conditions allow, it’s time to head for the hills.

I did have an ulterior motive for wanting to do Col de Menée today: apart from wanting a rather shorter ride, I had not yet seen the top of Mont Aiguille, and I reckoned that today’s forecast gave me a good chance of seeing it. (Incidentally, it was pointed out – pardon the pun – what a silly name it is: look at the photos, and you’ll see it doesn’t resemble a needle at all. A joke, maybe.)

As you’ll see, my hunch about the weather was correct, and the view of the mountain, along with the eastern ridge of the Vercors plateau was a sight to behold. And on the return descent I had all 21km of the road to myself, and enjoyed real warmth from the sun at last.

It takes just one ride like this to remind me what a wonderful place this is to be. But now I’ve got the long wait till the summer before I can remind myself all over again. It’s worth the wait though.

One for cyclists (mainly)

All the five-day forecasts for here for this week or so have veered on the optimistic: the temperatures and wind have been reasonably close, but the actual amount of sun has been much lower than predicted. Still, we’ve avoided the UK’s weekend storms, and I’ve done 400 miles in the week without getting properly wet,  and have had enough sun to get some tan-lines, so I’ll leave the complaining to the locals. (And yes, they do moan when it’s not sunny and warm!)

Today’s forecast: rain in morning, clearing around lunchtime. So, after some morning shopping, off at midday for something like a 70-mile ride, with two purposes: to ride up the D70-D411 from the D93 near Aouste,  and to try the alternative road (the D202) from the Col de Lescou to St. Nazaire-le-Désert.

The bits for cyclists:

1) The D70-D411 is a really nice little road to get up to the Saoû road,  but deliberately it is poorly signposted, to dissuade car drivers using it as a rat-run (I assume). If you use it the other way you’ll easily miss it (see photo). As ever, use a map, or GPS, if you don’t know your way around. You’ll know I’m a map man. 

2) I wouldn’t recommend the D202 from Col de Lescou as a way to get to St. Nazaire-le-Désert: the D355 is a lovely little descent, whereas the D202 is very gravelly and sketchy on the way down. If you’re a col-bagger and must to the Col de Muse, much better to ascend from St. Nazaire, though still watch out for gravel on the descent to Col de Lescou.

It actually was still a lovely ride, despite the less-than-scorching weather, my estimate of the length of the ride (it ended up being 80 miles), and the need for a rather more hasty return than anticipated. Fortunately my legs were game on this occasion.

Here’s the route:

The easily-missed turn
Looking back down to Col de Lescou from the Col de Muse
Weather passes by over the Roanne valley