Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wind hates a bicycle

Yesterday was a windy day, one of those days where the gusts bend trees over in a relentless sort of way. The forecast showed steady wind at 25 mph gusting as high as 50 mph. However, the sun was out, the thermometer was reading above 30 in March, and I had the day off on account of it being Good Friday. I had to go for a ride; a little wind wouldn't kill me. I was right, the wind didn't kill me, but it made for a pretty tough ride. I'm pretty sure the wind brought me to a dead stop at one point...while going downhill. Don't get me wrong, the ride was still great and I was thrilled to pedal the afternoon away and explore some new roads, but it was exhausting.

Just how exhausting was it? It's hard to say precisely. There are a bunch of web articles that say this and that about the effect of a headwind on effort required to continue rolling forward. One says there is an exponential relationship between windspeed and pedaling resistance; doubling the wind speed more than doubles pedaling resistance. Yay! You can quantify this miserable truth here. In real world terms, wind resistance is supposedly second only to going uphill in making a cyclist more exhausted (bicycle weight is pretty far down the list experts say). I guess one could go get a super aerodynamic bike and practice posing like a human torpedo, but that's kind of tedious, expensive and probably not that much fun. Instead I'll just appreciate the days when the wind is a little more forgiving and pedaling is comparatively effortless.

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