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  1. #1
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    HURRICANE force winds forecast- add ballast for safety?

    There's a serious wind event forecasted to hit the Northwest this afternoon. Hurricane force winds. It made the front page of the Seattle Times as the 'poisonous tail' of a low pressure system. And it hasn't even HIT the area yet!

    Anyway, I am seriously planning of adding about 15-20 pounds of ballast to the bike for the ride home- if its seriously windy - on top of my usual 'commuters lunchbag' stuff. low profile dense ballast. with 8 pounds or so on the front end.

    Any opinions on the effectiveness of this?
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  2. #2
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    Rather a serious question- there's forecast for a serious wind event to hit the Northwest this afternoon. Hurricane force winds. It made the front page of the Seattle Times as the 'poisonous tail' of a low pressure system. And it hasn't even HIT the area yet!

    Anyway, I am seriously planning of adding about 15-20 pounds of ballast to the bike for the ride home- if its seriously windy - on top of my usual 'commuters lunchbag' stuff. low profile dense ballast. with 8 pounds or so on the front end.

    Any opinions on the effectiveness of this?
    Winds of that force can make you change lanes before you know it... I would advise simply hunkering down... call in sick if you have to... 15-20 lbs ain't gonna do much when winds can move cars.

  3. #3
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    Low.

    The effectiveness, I mean.

  4. #4
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    I tried to go for a ride once in winds just below "hurricane force". I was just going out my front door when I watched a piece of corrugated metal peel off the roof of a local construction site and then go barrelling down the road. Needless to say, I turned around, went straight for the fridge, grabbed a beer and watched football for the rest of the afternoon. I'm pretty sure it was the right move....
    Rubber Side Down

  5. #5
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    ... I would advise simply hunkering down... call in sick if you have to...
    Surely you jest. This is forecast to be the worst storm in years. It's tough to turn down a challenge like that. In response to the OP, I think the ballast will be worthless. Take your cell phone, get in your granny, and see if you can hold on. If it appears to be suicidal/stupid, don't be afraid to bail. Cars and trucks will probably be blowing all over the place, and trees will be especially dangerous.

    I have yet to abandon a ride because I couldn't make it, and with any luck I'll still be able to say that tomorrow. A couple people have already offered to watch for me on the road and give me a lift if I look like I'm in trouble. Too bad I've been riding too hard this week -- legs are definitely less than prime. I actually brought ibuprofen to pop before my commute home.

  6. #6
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    We'll see what happens. We're supposed to get that system here a little bit later than you guys. It might be a fun ride home.

    I've been in some pretty severe storms and made it though them. It's a test of balance and strength. Often these warnings don't pan out, but we'll see.

  7. #7
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek
    Surely you jest.
    No, I don't jest... While a challenge is one thing (like those guys lost on Mt Hood right now) reality is that if these are truly hurricane force winds... the stuff flying about on the road, including Bek, will make it quite dangerous. Nothing like getting hit with a flying sign post to make your day.

    Winds like this can very easily blow you into the wrong lane too... putting you right in harm's way.

    Take the challenge, but bear in mind: "a man's gotta know his limits."

  8. #8
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    I second the recommendation to just go slow. The headwind/tailwind part of the storm is easy to deal with, but as soon as those winds shift or you turn, the crosswinds get scary. Ride the brakes going downhill. 15mph seems to be the point where strong (~40mph) crosswinds go from manageable to scary in my experience. I haven't had to deal with anything more severe though but some of the guys from Florida who get the real hurricanes might be able to give you some suggestions.

    And now I know you'll hate me for suggesting this, Bek, but heavy winds call for some extra measure of safety with regards to passing vehicles. DLLP can be very useful in getting passing motorists to slow down and give more space than they otherwise would which is very nice when you're getting blown back and forth by the wind. The wind will also coat the roadways with wet leaves and other hazards that are quite bike unfriendly. The relatively unused bike lane is not the default position to be taking under these circumstances.

  9. #9
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    I just checked our forecast and the wind speed is supposed to get up to 60 - 80 kmh overnight. Storm catagory, not hurricane. That's greater than 117 kmh.

    I rode my bike into work with 60 kmh winds twice and 100 kmh winds once. Each was tough, but managable. The gusts are the tricky part. Gotta know where and how to lean, passing trucks make for more of an adventure.

    I don't think it's going to all that bad, just a storm. We'll see.

  10. #10
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    No, I don't jest... While a challenge is one thing (like those guys lost on Mt Hood right now) reality is that if these are truly hurricane force winds... the stuff flying about on the road, including Bek, will make it quite dangerous. Nothing like getting hit with a flying sign post to make your day.

    Winds like this can very easily blow you into the wrong lane too... putting you right in harm's way.

    Take the challenge, but bear in mind: "a man's gotta know his limits."
    Actual conditions will vary drastically by location. The Bernoulli effect can magnify the wind speed in certain areas immensely -- there are a couple spots on my ride where this is a consistent problem in storms. I'm about 60 miles inland, so the winds won't be nearly what they are on the coast. In some areas, they might get winds over 100mph+ which is far beyond anything I'd have a chance of handling. In my location, I'm expecting something closer to 40 with some harsh gusts, but like another poster said, these warnings often don't pan out. The news tends to hype up events.

    I'm counting on harsh but not impossible conditions. If it's much worse than I expect, I'll abandon my ride. I will definitely check the radar and reported wind speeds at locations in many areas to make sure I don't ride out 10 miles and get in trouble because that's when the real storm hit. If winds are strong enough to make large heavy projectiles fly about, I won't make it home tonight. At that point, driving becomes dangerous too, so I'll just hole up in a nearby hotel.

  11. #11
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    The wind will also coat the roadways with wet leaves and other hazards that are quite bike unfriendly.
    I've had this problem in high winds before. A strong blast from the side can send you flying because you have no grip. If winds only reach 60-80 kph (roughly 40-50mph) as closetbiker predicts, this should be doable. Hopefully they'll be straight rather than gusty. I find constantly changing winds especially hard to deal with.

  12. #12
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    I just check the forecast for Seattle, and it's for a high wind warning, not hurricane. Manageable.

  13. #13
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    This is expected in PDX also.

  14. #14
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Wind like that can be sweet if a tailwind! I'd hare a cross or headwind though!
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  15. #15
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Having lived through the hurricane season of last year.....
    If the winds are really Hurricane force, forget it, stay home. Those kind of winds rip old, large, strong trees out of the ground. Be honest with yourself here, what's more fun to ride: a hospital bed, a bike, or a casket? Dodge cars, not shrapnel.

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  16. #16
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I added ~3000 pounds of ballast to my commute this morning. I saw the weather report and decided it was safer to take my Jeep today.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  17. #17
    N_C
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    How high are the winds going to be? 50 mph+? If not then you can probably ride with out ballast. Otherwise you may want to skip riding if it's that windy.

  18. #18
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    How high are the winds going to be? 50 mph+? If not then you can probably ride with out ballast. Otherwise you may want to skip riding if it's that windy.
    For my usual evening commute time, the forecast calls for sustained 30mph SSE with 50mph gusts.
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  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Having had no small experience with winds in the +80 mph (not whimpy metric stuff ), it's not the wind that gets you but the rather large pieces of stuff flying around that's the problem. Do you recall the scene in "Twister" where the cows are flying around? Try that with most of a roof...kinda hard to dodge. If your area sees high winds frequently, the likelyhood of a roof taking flight is somewhat diminished (think of it as natural selection for houses) but if you don't see that kind of wind regularly, the flight of the roofs is not something you want to be downwind for Plus gravel at +80 mph hurts like the devil!

    As for the extra weight: When the wind can blow over an 80,000 lb truck, an extra few pounds isn't going to make a lot of difference.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I think the bigger issue is going to be downed trees and power lines. The ground is already quite saturated and it's raining heavily today - up to three inches is expected - the wind is gonna knock a bunch of stuff down even if the gusts are only 50 - 80 mph....

  21. #21
    jcm
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    I gotta part company with you on this, Beko. Sit it out. Take the bus or your cage. DOn't take a chance on a vehicle not seeing you because they are fixated on all the stuff in the air. Also, some of that stuff could hit you.

    One of these days I'll roll into Greg's and need your help. Please be there...

  22. #22
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    In my area, it's supposed to be 25-35 mph winds with gusts up to 50. I took the bike this morning because my wife needed the car. Will I even be able to make forward progress in a 30 mph headwind?
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  23. #23
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    Apparently, in a 30 mph headwind on a level grade, I should be able to achieve 4.3 mph at a steady 160 watts. If I "dial it up to 400w", I can go 8.6 mph.

    That's hands on the tops, though... in the drops,

    160W = 5.6 mph
    400W = 10.9 mph

    Ugh... if it's really blowing that hard, I'm calling home.
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    There's a serious wind event forecasted to hit the Northwest this afternoon. Hurricane force winds. It made the front page of the Seattle Times as the 'poisonous tail' of a low pressure system. And it hasn't even HIT the area yet!

    Anyway, I am seriously planning of adding about 15-20 pounds of ballast to the bike for the ride home- if its seriously windy - on top of my usual 'commuters lunchbag' stuff. low profile dense ballast. with 8 pounds or so on the front end.

    Any opinions on the effectiveness of this?
    High, Bek. I just checked Weather dot com for Seattle. The bad news is the wind advisory says 40 mph. with gusts to 65. The good news: if you're leaving for home before dark, the winds will still be under 20 mph., and all you'll have to contend with is horizontal rain.

    Good luck!
    No worries

  25. #25
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    Well, I'm already at work. I'm going to throw a 6 pack into each pannier on the way home. All you people driving, don't hit me, thanks.

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