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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-22-05, 08:46 PM   #1
TimeZer0
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Unknown Biking Phenomena: always going against the wind

I commute to work (15mi one way). Once I get out of the city and hit this stretch heading due north of about 7mi of pretty open flat lanscape, that damn wind hits me like no other. I always think: "well at least I'll be going with the wind on the way back". So I head out for my commute home and dammit, the wind
changed course and I'm pedalin my *ss off again, going slow and getting tired. Granted there are plenty of days when it's calm, but if there is wind I'm headed straight into it. I ride a single speed and a fixed gear
bike, so dropping a gear or two is out of the question. Not sure that would make feel better anyway, just spinnin faster and goin slower. Anyway, Maybe I'm just a wimp, but does anybody else experience this, or just hate wind like I do?
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Old 09-22-05, 09:01 PM   #2
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That's practically an axiom - the wind is always in your face. At least it's refreshing on hot summer days. But I'd rather do without it (a tailwind is even better, of course, but that seems like too much to ask for ).
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Old 09-22-05, 09:03 PM   #3
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That would be Boston, fall through spring. I have no idea why this is, but I have actually verified with the weather channel.

Last edited by bostontrevor; 09-22-05 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 09-22-05, 09:04 PM   #4
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try picking up some aero bars. they're perfect for headwinds.
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Old 09-22-05, 09:08 PM   #5
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I saw that on the Weather Channel the other day - It's called "Contraflow". If you don't like it, move to the southern hemisphere, where the wind is with you both ways!
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Old 09-22-05, 10:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaMan
I saw that on the Weather Channel the other day - It's called "Contraflow". If you don't like it, move to the southern hemisphere, where the wind is with you both ways!
Hmm, that must be some other hemisphere than this one down under...
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Old 09-22-05, 10:07 PM   #7
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It's like sitting around a campfire. No matter which side you sit on, the smoke ALWAYS blows toward you.
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Old 09-23-05, 04:49 AM   #8
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I'm on the coast a little north of Boston and am always riding against the wind. Oddly the rest of my life seems to go with the flow.
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Old 09-23-05, 04:57 AM   #9
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Contraflow? So they have a name for the wind always being a headwind no matter which direction I go? I have ridden 2 miles to the store in a headwind, then ride the 2 miles back into another headwind. The wind shifted in the 5 minutes I was in the store! sheesh.
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Old 09-23-05, 05:35 AM   #10
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I live in an area of north-south valleys, where the wind blows west to east.
I find the wind blows in different directions depending on which side of the valley
you are on. Normally in your face.
At least it seems that way.
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Old 09-23-05, 05:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
It's like sitting around a campfire. No matter which side you sit on, the smoke ALWAYS blows toward you.

No, no, no. Smoke follows the fool!

just kidding, please don't beat me with that flaming stick you just pulled out of the campfire.
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Old 09-23-05, 06:26 AM   #12
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I ride along the Hudson River and the wind is always stronger there than elsewhere in the City. I also get the feeling that the wind shifts from morning to night most days, usually not in my favor.

I guess it's like walking uphill to school both ways.
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Old 09-23-05, 06:40 AM   #13
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You could try moving 15 miles to the other side of your workplace.
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Old 09-23-05, 06:41 AM   #14
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Try riding backwards. Then the wind will be "always at your back"
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Old 09-23-05, 07:27 AM   #15
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I have observed that phenomenon also. On the other hand, my trip normally takes 35-40 minutes by the most direct route, and one day as I was preparing to leave I looked at the three flags outside our building and saw them sticking straight out, pointing toward home, exactly parallel to the road home. I thought, "I'm going for a record." I took that main road, even though it is a heavy-traffic route, pedaled my you-know-what off, hit a couple key green lights, and made it home in 27 minutes. So sometimes we win.
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Old 09-23-05, 07:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeZer0
but does anybody else experience this, or just hate wind like I do?
Learn to embrace the wind.

It's like hills. When you first starting riding, you hated hills. Then after you got into shape a little bit, you only hated steep, long, or long steep hills. Then you started attacking on the hills. Now even mountains are nothing more than a challenge.

Wind is only invisible hills.

Az
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Old 09-23-05, 08:02 AM   #17
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Maybe you are just outrunning the wind. Think of it this way:

The wind is blowing east @ 10 mph.
You are traveling east @ 14 mph.

You just turned a 10 mph tailwind into a 4 mph headwind.

Not sure if science would back me up on this one, but it makes me feel better when it seems like the wind won't give me a break.
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Old 09-23-05, 09:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Az B
Learn to embrace the wind.

It's like hills. When you first starting riding, you hated hills. Then after you got into shape a little bit, you only hated steep, long, or long steep hills. Then you started attacking on the hills. Now even mountains are nothing more than a challenge.

Wind is only invisible hills.

Az
Does this mean there are really places on earth when there isn't a constant headwind?

I've been trying to do an unsupported Century for the past three weekends. When I get to about mile 15, with a good head wind, I tell myself, at least I'll have a nice tailwind to bring me home. When I get to mile 20-30 and am feeling tired from "blowin' in the wind" I reassure myself that I'll be in my big ring all the way home. A couple of miles later I stop for my nature break (lovely animals around here) -- never pee against the wind!--I realize that the wind will be (also) a headwind on the way back.

Each of these times I've cut my loop short because of too strong a head wind or side wind in both riding directions (there are no trees, buildings, hills, fences, tall creatures along the highway where I ride).

But the fact that I'm even doing this distance in usaully strong wind, I've done a couple of metric centuries in it, is a testament to overcoming the obstacle. Az B is absolutely right, the wind is my invisible hill. It is always an uphill ride and when I get out of the saddle the "hill" gets harder as the wind sees more of my body.

Aero bars and music have made this otherwise bleak reality better. Once in a blue moon, the Aeleous smiles and I have a strong tail wind and I hit 30 mph plus on the the flat....That's just sweet.

And you know what? there is also a sense of pride that I can go out and ride hard regardless of this unforgiving "uphill" in this land of Wind & Snow.
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Old 09-23-05, 09:45 AM   #19
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I read somewhere that you only get benefit from a tailwind in a 135 degree arc. So the other 225 degrees of side/headwind are a detriment. All other things being equal, you have an almost 2-1 chance of having a detrimental wind effect.
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Old 09-23-05, 09:53 AM   #20
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It was maybe 20 years ago or so when Bicycle Guide mag was new that they published an article about this. It basically said that any wind not directly behind you becomes a headwind. If I can find it at home, I'll scan it and post it.

Best,
e.
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Old 09-23-05, 10:04 AM   #21
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http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/wind.html

Google is our friend... even for stuff right under our noses!
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Old 09-23-05, 11:33 AM   #22
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Yeah part of my commute goes one way and part goes the opposite way (I live opposite my office across the train tracks, but I have to go up a couple blocks to where there's a crossing). It is amazing that even in that short a time, the wind manages to be in my face one way and usually in my face the other. The most I can usually hope for is it to be neutral on the second leg if it was in my face on the first.
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Old 09-23-05, 01:46 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeZer0
I commute to work (15mi one way). Once I get out of the city and hit this stretch heading due north of about 7mi of pretty open flat lanscape, that damn wind hits me like no other. I always think: "well at least I'll be going with the wind on the way back". So I head out for my commute home and dammit, the wind
changed course and I'm pedalin my *ss off again, going slow and getting tired. Granted there are plenty of days when it's calm, but if there is wind I'm headed straight into it. I ride a single speed and a fixed gear
bike, so dropping a gear or two is out of the question. Not sure that would make feel better anyway, just spinnin faster and goin slower. Anyway, Maybe I'm just a wimp, but does anybody else experience this, or just hate wind like I do?
Yeah, you're a wimp! So'm I!

I live in Boston, and like you, I commute on a fixie. Boston is a very windy city, moreso than Chicago (which wasn't called the windy city because of its weather, anyway). It's also on the ocean, in a sunken basen surrounded by a ring of hills.

Often there'll be a fresh, north or northeast breeze in the morning, as I ride in from the southwest. But then, as the day's heat builds, the southwesterly wind will come up. So I'll a gusty headwind coming home.

And it's especially bad in the summer, when the wind comes over the hills and speeds up as it does so. That produces a gusty, hot breeze, less steady and not as blazing as the famous Sana Anna winds in Southern California, but demoralizing nevertheless.

On rare occasions, we'll get an afternoon sea breeze. In the summer, this penetrates to about 5 miles, and it's like hitting a wall when it gives out. I live 11 miles from my job in the city, and I've seen a fifteen degree (Fahrenheit) temperature difference when Boston has a cool eastern seabreeze, and my home out beyond the hills.

I always say, "No wind is good wind." Unfortunately, it's a rare day in Boston when you can light a cigar without the wind blowing it out!
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Old 09-23-05, 01:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Az B
Learn to embrace the wind.

It's like hills. When you first starting riding, you hated hills. Then after you got into shape a little bit, you only hated steep, long, or long steep hills. Then you started attacking on the hills. Now even mountains are nothing more than a challenge.

Wind is only invisible hills.

Az
True. Wind is an invisible hill that you can't downshift in time to combat, that gets worse when you're forced to stand on the pedals, that roars in your ears and that steals your energy, warmth and peace of mind!


I would take almost anything apart from strong, steady wind. More hills, rain, even snow! Heck, riding in a gentle snowfall at 15 - 20 degrees F, the dry flakes coming down and coating your gloves, wind-pants, arms and so on, and making everything silent around you is one of the few rewards for cycling in a cold climate.

I draw the line at freezing rain, though. That stuff hurts to ride in. But everything else, well, I'll take any of it over wind!
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Old 09-23-05, 04:33 PM   #25
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The law of cycling: For every uphill, there is a downhill.

Corrollary to the law of cycling: For every headwind, there is another headwind.
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