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Difficult wind is difficult

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Difficult wind is difficult

Old 11-10-17, 09:36 AM
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Difficult wind is difficult

Hello,

My family and I have been car-free for about 9 weeks now. My work commute is 12 miles each way. I live on the extreme northeast corner of the city and my job is in a small town to the northeast. My route is basically on county roads through farmland. The prevailing wind here is from the southwest - obviously there is some variation but most days I can expect a little tailwind on my way to work and a little headwind on the way home.

Yesterday afternoon we had a wind from the west at 20 gusting 35. Basically all the roads on my route are on the country grid, so rather than heading home to the southwest, it's like a mile south, then a few miles west, a few miles south, and so on. So on the westbound "legs" I was riding directly into the wind, and during the peak gusts I could hardly keep the bike moving (I ride an old Raleigh road bike for reference). It made a small but noticeable difference to get down in the drops, but I spent the majority of the time riding into the wind in like 1st and 2nd gear, spinning the best I could and maybe maintaining 8-10mph?

Is my experience common? The wind slowing me down that much can add as much as 30 minutes to my ride - I usually make it in about 45-50 minutes but it takes me around 60-75 minutes when it's that windy. What does the wind do to anybody else? Are there some special "techniques" to employ? Any articles to read that have been helpful to anyone else? I do my best to not fight it and just relax and try to enjoy the ride.

Sorry if my post has a whiney tone. I awoke this morning to find that the wind had shifted to the northeast so I had a headwind on my ride to work. It was 22 degrees as well, my first time riding in weather that cold and I was not prepared so was suffering when I got to work. I have made some progress - the first couple times it got that windy it was all I could do to refrain from stopping and smashing my bike on the road and chucking it into a field!!!

Dealing with the wind is sometimes difficult.
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Old 11-10-17, 09:57 AM
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Yes, headwinds can be very hard. I used to commute into winter storm southerlies when I lived in Seattle. I did two things to my bike setup that helped a lot. I used a very long stem so I could ride with a flat back and fairly straight arms and my arms were relatively "aero" while still on the drops or brakes so I had very good control and I put a Zzipper fairing on the handlebars.

Those years were the start of my realization that I could have the handlebars closer and low; the traditional "performance" setup or higher and further forward as I described above and the two setups were very nearly equal for comfort and power. Also made me a huge fan of those fairings. Look into one. (I doubt Zzipper is still around but you might find a used one. There are others also.)

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Old 11-10-17, 10:19 AM
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Ebike easily solves the wind problem.
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Old 11-10-17, 10:42 AM
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Doesn't sound whiny to me, just stating facts about the situation. It was really windy yesterday in my area too, and I always forget how much harder it gets to ride this time of year, between the studs and the wind.
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Old 11-10-17, 10:49 AM
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I don't find you whiny. I give a wind report almost every time I check into the How was your commute thread. My commute is along the Hudson River which is over a mile wide. The edge of the island has cliffs, so the wind across the river plus the cliffs make it very windy, and there are currents and vortices that make the wind shifty and gusty. What's worse is that the prevailing wind direction change in midday. One of my most common experiences is having a heavy headwind in the morning and a milder headwind going home at night. It's so unfair. I'm a good hill climber, but most of my route is flat. I'd prefer a hillier and less windy route. NYC is a very windy city, since it is on the ocean, but my route is windier than the rest of the city. Not only that, I'm thin, which may be why I'm a good hill climber, but it also makes me more wind prone than strong heavy people. So I have a lot of wind complaints.

The good news is that I'm getting better at it. Most of the time, it's less onerous than it was when I started commuting along this route.

Be sure to have handlebars that let you lean forward. When you lean forward, you may not feel it helps, because the wind in your face doesn't get any weaker, but it does help.
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Old 11-10-17, 10:50 AM
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I can relate to the hating the winds so much so that I chose not to ride today as those winds are here today gusting up to 40 mph. I do not remember ever having so much winds but in these past two years I am noticing getting more windy days. I had times were I was riding into a head wind down a hill that I get good speed on and having to pedal down the hill because of the wind. If I have that happen to many days in a row I will take a day off as I hate fighting winds to get home. Fighting to get to work does not bother me so much but getting home should be easy(in my mind). I will take the cold over the winds.
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Old 11-10-17, 11:06 AM
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Sucked for me yesterday as well. The afternoon winds are almost always against me and the morning is about half, so it's a net loss. You just have to put your head down and pedal and don't worry about fast you're going or how far you have to go. Nothing else to do.

As for the cold, that can be downright dangerous if you're not prepared for it, and 12 miles is a fair distance to be out there. Check the winter commuting sticky for some ideas.
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Old 11-10-17, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I don't find you whiny. I give a wind report almost every time I check into the How was your commute thread. My commute is along the Hudson River which is over a mile wide. The edge of the island has cliffs, so the wind across the river plus the cliffs make it very windy, and there are currents and vortices that make the wind shifty and gusty. What's worse is that the prevailing wind direction change in midday. One of my most common experiences is having a heavy headwind in the morning and a milder headwind going home at night. It's so unfair. I'm a good hill climber, but most of my route is flat. I'd prefer a hillier and less windy route. NYC is a very windy city, since it is on the ocean, but my route is windier than the rest of the city. Not only that, I'm thin, which may be why I'm a good hill climber, but it also makes me more wind prone than strong heavy people. So I have a lot of wind complaints.

The good news is that I'm getting better at it. Most of the time, it's less onerous than it was when I started commuting along this route.

Be sure to have handlebars that let you lean forward. When you lean forward, you may not feel it helps, because the wind in your face doesn't get any weaker, but it does help.
Thanks for taking the time to reply, Tom. I always value your posts and thoughtful replies.

And it does seem unfair! I have to remind myself the wind doesn't know who I am, the weather doesn't care, it's going to do what it does whether I'm out on my bicycle or not.

I just installed a longer stem last week and it does help, like especially if I can get my nose down to about 4 inches from the stem. I'm not super flexible yet but it is improving. It also helps to know that others out there are slogging it out in the wind just like I am I suppose misery loves company but I wish I knew of a more positive/optimistic way to say that.
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Old 11-10-17, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
I can relate to the hating the winds so much so that I chose not to ride today as those winds are here today gusting up to 40 mph. I do not remember ever having so much winds but in these past two years I am noticing getting more windy days. I had times were I was riding into a head wind down a hill that I get good speed on and having to pedal down the hill because of the wind. If I have that happen to many days in a row I will take a day off as I hate fighting winds to get home. Fighting to get to work does not bother me so much but getting home should be easy(in my mind). I will take the cold over the winds.
Yeah! I was going to say something about having to pedal DOWNHILL just to keep moving. I was very surprised at this the first time I experienced it.
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Old 11-10-17, 11:32 AM
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I haven't needed to pedal downhill in a long time. The worst was way back in 1976, I took a teen trip along the St Lawrence River in Québec. The wind was fierce enough that we didn't even need our brakes. Imagine a group of teens who learned to draft out of necessity.

Back flexibility is good to have, and I don't have a lot of it. I've improved in the last year. I highly recommend doing deadlifts, because it has helped strengthen my lower back. I learned by chance that flexibility is one thing, but strength is also important. I am able to support my upper body with my muscles. Who knew?
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Old 11-10-17, 12:16 PM
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Yep, wind is a huge factor. I think only a 35 degree rain ruins a commute more efficiently...
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Old 11-10-17, 12:21 PM
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Now you know why E Bikes sell so well to Dutch Commuters, and their main domestic companies make them.

Winds off the North Sea can be Very Strong.
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Old 11-10-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Now you know why E Bikes sell so well to Dutch Commuters, and their main domestic companies make them.

Winds off the North Sea can be Very Strong.
Are you sure the average Dutch bike commuter has a commute similar to mine? 20km from the city through the countryside? I believe their target demographic is somewhat different, and they probably sell way more ebikes to people who live/work in the city and have commutes of 10km or less. I obviously am just guessing but it wouldn't be hard to find some numbers on it. One of our fleet is a legit made in the Netherlands omafiets, a single speed. It weighs like 50 lbs. If I had to slog around on one of those all day, even just in the city, I'd want an electric motor, too.

I have thought about changing jobs to something closer and in the city but financially and otherwise it would be too disruptive right now. Also means an ebike is financially out of reach anyway for me.
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Old 11-10-17, 01:08 PM
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Gusts over 35mph and I usually take the train. I'm from Atlanta and am not used to this type of wind that's not even associated with any storm--just strong, generalized wind on a bright, sunny day. It sucks.

I try to psych myself up for a bit before heading out on windy days. Down a couple of cups of coffee, listen to a high energy song, and hit the road hard. Getting in the drops and spinning will help and just try to zone out. This is my same philosophy in any bad weather when I'm really not enjoying the ride. You'll be glad you rode when it's over.

This exact advice also works for cleaning the bathroom, by the way!
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Old 11-10-17, 01:11 PM
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in the midwest, i am in illinois, when the corn is harvested the winds will kill you. i think 8-10mph is pretty good into the face of a strong wind. when touring this fall in norther illinois i was struggling at 8 mph and then the road made a 90 bend, at which point with the same effort i was going 14mph. made for a long day.
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Old 11-10-17, 01:15 PM
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I was further handicapped in a strong headwind because I was on my touring bike with the frontal area of 4 panniers

trying to get to the north end of the great Sea dike.
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Old 11-10-17, 01:26 PM
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I hate riding in the wind, and yesterday's wind was one reason I walked to work instead of riding.
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Old 11-10-17, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
in the midwest, i am in illinois, when the corn is harvested the winds will kill you. i think 8-10mph is pretty good into the face of a strong wind. when touring this fall in norther illinois i was struggling at 8 mph and then the road made a 90 bend, at which point with the same effort i was going 14mph. made for a long day.
Dude. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

I couldn't believe that a headwind could slow me down THAT much, but sounds like it's a shared experience. Blech.

Basically NOBODY cycles out by where I live, so I have no other cyclists to observe/ask. Actually, at the moment I know of zero humans in my own real world circle who cycle at all, much less commute. I mean besides my wife and kids. I do pass a lot of Amish on bikes on my commute. Despite having gears on their bicycles, they seem content to mash along at 7-8mph in top gear, at like 30rpm. I will likely not be stopping to ask them for advice!
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Old 11-10-17, 01:48 PM
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It might be interesting to talk to them. I have only a little exposure to the Amish and Mennonites. Their world fascinates me.

Yes, headwinds make a huge difference in speed as well as effort. I've been recording my rides for a few years, and I recommend you do, too. I have a couple of rides that are so much faster than normal, and I didn't make notes of the winds on those days. I can't find anything else to explain the speeds.

Here is my ridewithgps profile. Feel free to connect with me there.

And check out this wind map. I try to remember to check it in the morning.
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Old 11-10-17, 01:54 PM
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I read that you do try to relax about. GOOD! It’s very much a mental thing too.

Sometimes (not always though, I know) it helps to tell yourself: “Wind equals training.”
Just go slow about it, but increase when the wind drops a beat.
Add some 30" stops.

//

Bye the bye, forget the omafiets icon because any other bike weights much less there!
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Old 11-10-17, 02:18 PM
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OP, I feel your pain once in a while also. The wind is just part of it, unfortunately. I also know what @noglider is talking about and also experienced a lot of wind on the Hudson Greenway back when I went all the way downtown for training. If I didn't gear down one and keep my hands on the drops and remain calm, then I would have blown up mid ride. As it was, I was pretty tired after that ride if I recall.
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Old 11-10-17, 02:52 PM
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Yea, in western Indiana when I am planning my 35-65 mile recreation rides, the first thing I check is the wind forecast. It is the overwhelming issue in how practical the ride will be. Only advise is that a road bike is better than a cruiser or MTB in the wind, kind of obvious...
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Old 11-10-17, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
It might be interesting to talk to them. I have only a little exposure to the Amish and Mennonites. Their world fascinates me.

Yes, headwinds make a huge difference in speed as well as effort. I've been recording my rides for a few years, and I recommend you do, too. I have a couple of rides that are so much faster than normal, and I didn't make notes of the winds on those days. I can't find anything else to explain the speeds.

Here is my ridewithgps profile. Feel free to connect with me there.

And check out this wind map. I try to remember to check it in the morning.
I am from an Amish family and work with Amish. I sat here for several minutes trying to think of positive things to say about them. It is true that they could teach us some lessons about simple/sustainable living. Their religious beliefs and/or social structure are not a far departure from the norm for northeast Indiana. I am a progressive and feminist so it can be challenging to come up with things to talk about aside from the weather, which happens to be pretty relevant for them and for me. So when I talk to Amish, we talk about the weather.

As I understand it, there may be some pretty big differences in philosophy among, say, Indiana Amish and Pennsylvania Amish, but I don't know what they might be. The weather here and there is mostly the same.
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Old 11-10-17, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 55murray View Post
Only advise is that a road bike is better than a cruiser or MTB in the wind, kind of obvious...
Obvious to the initiated maybe. When I first tried commuting a few years back with zero prior experience, I was doing so on my 3 speed Schwinn Collegiate until I had a windy day like yesterday and at one point got off the bike and walked because it was faster than riding against the headwind! That was a 14 mile commute and was enough for me to decide bike commuting was not for me. MOST days I'm glad I eventually gave it another chance.
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Old 11-10-17, 03:23 PM
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I'm spoiled with a commute that is barely over 3 miles. I sometimes extend it to the double digits but I don't have too. It can get me into trouble, since I count on about 15 minutes. So I tell my wife, sure I'll be home by 515 so you can do yoga - and I will walk out of the building and see it is one of those afternoons where it is howling out of the north and I had to suck it up and make the time anyway. I get home just a tad this side of a heart attack.

It is a bit of a shame about the commute turning your ride into work, I find my recreational rides to small towns near the Wabash river valley are really very nice.
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