Weather and Equipment
Gears and Gear
Gears and Gear
The Vercors sits at the juncture of three different weather systems - Oceanic, Mediterranean and Mountain but it is mainly a continental /Mediterranean climate which means a mild spring and autumn and a hot, dry summer with occasional and spectacular thunderstorms. Temperatures in high summer can be above 35°C but generally sit in the high twenties. Spring and autumn is usually between 18-25°C. Velo Vercors in St.Jean is at a height of 240m above sea level. Most of the plateau is in the region of 1000m and the highest climbs rise to 1,400m so during a typical ride from us to the plateau there can be a temperature drop of between 5-7 degrees. It can still be very hot on the plateau especially in the height of summer where temperatures in the mid thirties are not unusual but this is where the geology and weather work in our favour with an abundance of springs trickling through the limestone. Most villages and even small hamlets have a spring providing clean, fresh, drinking water. Although, there are local wind patterns the Vercors is not a windy place, the gorges are sheltered and even on the exposed parts of the plateau the wind is rarely a problem.
As it can be 5-10 degrees cooler on the plateau and there is an increased likelihood of rain, it is best to be prepared. A light rain jacket and arm warmers are worth carrying, even with it is dry and balmy in St.Jean. The descents are not particularly long, but plenty of time to get really cold if wet and the temperature is below 20 degrees. So carry a gilet or, Roger's top tip, a sheet of bubble wrap!
As there are no bike shops in the Vercors National Park it is recommended to carry essential spares - at the minimum a puncture repair kit or inner tube, multi-tool and pump or CO2 inflator. The nearest, quality cycle shop, to Velo Vercors, is in Romans-sur-Isere (Cycles Cassese).
The climbs are not particularly steep or particularly long, by high alps standards. Typically, the Vercors climbs have an average gradient of 5-7%with only the occasional steeper sections at 8-9% and some very short kicks above 10%. If reasonably strong and fit, a standard double chainring with a 39-tooth inner ring and at least a 25-tooth cog on the rear cassette is fine to do these climbs. To make it a little easier, and ride at a slightly lower speed or higher cadence, a cassette with a 28-tooth cog on the back is probably the best combination. If less fit, or there is a preference to ride at a higher cadence or slower pace, then it is recommended to ride a compact chainset (eg. 50-34) with a rear 28.