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Headwind while touring

Old 04-05-15, 09:21 PM
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Headwind while touring

So you've set your itinerary and you're going, yaaaaaaay! Then 1/3 way into your tour, bam, major headwind.

Do you fight it until you die and stay on "schedule"?
Do you get as much done as you can and stay near sched?
Do you say screw it and take a day and add one on the end?

This is a serious question I have.

Thank you all.
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Old 04-05-15, 09:52 PM
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For me, it depends on what waits for me at the end of the day. If I am being hosted that night, I try very hard to get where I am going. If I can't I try to call early enough in the day not to ruin my hosts plans for the night.

If I am motelling it that night and have a reservation, I try to make it to save getting charged anyway but wouldn't ride into the night to get there if I couldnt.

If neither, I would likely fight it until I couldn't stand it anymore and then find a place to stop for the night.
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Old 04-05-15, 09:58 PM
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What is a "major" headwind? How long is 1/3 of your tour? What is the weather forecast? Is it a headwind for 1 day or 2 weeks? I've never been on a tour that did not have some days of pretty stiff headwinds. On a tour last summer we encountered headwinds of 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Each situation is different, and how each situation is handled depends on many things: distance, physical condition, wind speed/direction, urgency, temperature, topography, ......................... We don't plan tight schedules, and know there will be days when mileage will be lower. Plan for those days when the energy cost is not worth the benefit.
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Old 04-05-15, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
So you've set your itinerary and you're going, yaaaaaaay! Then 1/3 way into your tour, bam, major headwind.

Do you fight it until you die and stay on "schedule"?
Do you get as much done as you can and stay near sched?
Do you say screw it and take a day and add one on the end?

This is a serious question I have.

Thank you all.
Talk to someone with a pickup truck. Ask them for a ride and offer to pay.

Otherwise, Don't leave home with a schedule. (if that is possible)
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Old 04-05-15, 10:32 PM
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Newfoundland wind got me. I leave extra time in my schedule for things like that, but a after a ferry was delayed 2 days because of the wind, another ferry was canceled because of pack ice. That meant I had to bike an extra 800km, 600 of those against the Newfoundland wind, and you don't wanna do that. Whenever I saw a truck in my mirror, I stuck my thumb out while riding.



Last year I did a short tour on the south shore of the St-Lawrence. Spring was late and I had strong easterly wind for several days so instead of doing a detour I had planned, I took a more direct route to the train back home.
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Old 04-06-15, 12:12 AM
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winds? i take 'em as the come. and weather is fickle, so i avoid schedules when i'm on tour.
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Old 04-06-15, 12:38 AM
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I usually have some slack built into my schedule anyway since I want to be able to spend some time sightseeing along the way. So if there's a day with bad weather I can usually make up for it later when there's a day with a nice tailwind or by skipping some attractions that aren't 'must see' but which I would otherwise have stopped at.

But as already said, the particular circumstances dictate what I'd do on a particular day (do I have commitments at the planned destination that night, how bad are the conditions, what's my planned mileage the following day or two, etc.).
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Old 04-06-15, 05:57 AM
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I pay attention to the wind pattern if there is one. Is the wind lighter or more variable in the morning or evening? If so, I'll get up pre-dawn or cycle into the evening to avoid it, and spend the windier part of the day resting, hiking, touring, eating, etc. Sometimes I'll study the weather patterns (wind roses are available more easily now with the internet) before the ride and I'll know what to expect beforehand. For instance, on my Northern Tier ride, I expected tail winds across MT and headwinds going south through MN, so I adjusted my daily plans accordingly. Five-day forecasts are sometimes pretty accurate, too. I seldom get totally surprised.

Generally it might mean I gear down and spend an extra hour in the saddle and try to think of something pleasant. Your day follows your head. As Yogi Berra said, 90% of the game is half mental. Another truism--rookie cyclists complain about the hills, while veteran cyclists complain about the wind.
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Old 04-06-15, 06:33 AM
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I never have a day-to-day schedule for my tours, so I might sit out a day or stop early.

Getting up early is good mitigating tactic, too.

Headwinds are part of touring, sometimes you just gear down and ride.
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Old 04-06-15, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
So you've set your itinerary and you're going, yaaaaaaay! Then 1/3 way into your tour, bam, major headwind.

Do you fight it until you die and stay on "schedule"?
Do you get as much done as you can and stay near sched?
Do you say screw it and take a day and add one on the end?

This is a serious question I have.

Thank you all.
I don't have a schedule when I tour.
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Old 04-06-15, 07:00 AM
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I also cycled for 13 years in Manitoba. Headwinds were a given ... not a big deal.
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Old 04-06-15, 07:14 AM
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I definitely expect wind and for it to come at a less than opportune times. Much as I'd like to have an open ended tour, I don't see that happening. So somehow I need to allot for snafus. I'm not going soon so I have time to learn the ins and outs of me-saddle-long-time.
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Old 04-06-15, 07:15 AM
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I also loosely plan my days based on the weather data ...... so easy to get that info now.
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Old 04-06-15, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
I definitely expect wind and for it to come at a less than opportune times. Much as I'd like to have an open ended tour, I don't see that happening. So somehow I need to allot for snafus. I'm not going soon so I have time to learn the ins and outs of me-saddle-long-time.
Part of it depends on your fitness level. If you can mix in a 200 mile day, that'll straighten out you schedule. :-)

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Old 04-06-15, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I also cycled for 13 years in Manitoba. ...
were you lost?
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Old 04-06-15, 09:06 AM
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Some places have very consistent winds that last for a season. That is why most people ride from North to South if they do the Pacific Coast trail in OR and CA. Our tailwinds last summer were endless, loved it and had great sympathy for the few riders we saw coming from the South. If I was stuck in a place like that here there was no hope that the winds would every change, I would shorten my daily goals to have a more manageable trip - that assumes you have the time available to do so instead of having to be back at work by a fixed date.

If you are in the middle of a large land mass, like North America, you might be able to plan your daily schedule better for the wind. Usually wind strongest about 1pm or 2pm, steadily weakens after 4pm and is quite weak between sunup and about 10am. A friend of mine crossed the country and they often were on the road in the dark in the morning to avoid the heat, finished the daily ride well before noon, you could do that to avoid some of the wind.

Since you posted this question, you have internet access. WUnderground has a good graphical display of the 10 day forecast, it includes wind direction and speed on their graph. Plus of course the forecast for precipitation is nice to have too. This link is the forecast for my home area, you would have to type in your anticipated location in a few days to get a good forecast. I usually trust the forecast to be pretty good out about six days, beyond that it starts getting to be a bit more like gambling. This could help plan which days you want to ride and which ones you don't want to ride, and if you might have a tailwind coming later.
Madison, Wisconsin (53719) Conditions & Forecast | Weather Underground

I regularly use my drop bars in head winds, that is why I have drop bars. I have done a couple bike tours in Europe where the tour group provided hybrid bikes for us to ride. Where the pavement was smooth and little chance that I would have to suddenly veer around something, I occasionally rested my forearms on the flat bars and steered that way to get a bit more aero position when the winds were strong.

Since I am on the topic of weather forecasts, a couple other links that I often looked at when on a long tour to get an estimate of what the weather might be like in a week or two:
Climate Prediction Center - 6 to 10 Day Outlook
Climate Prediction Center - 8 to 14 Day Outlook
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Old 04-06-15, 09:09 AM
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suck it up, buttercup. or, another way to put it, HTFU.

you're going to encounter winds. cross, tail, and head. enjoy the tailwinds, and grind thru the headwinds. headwinds can be discouraging, no doubt, when you have them day after day. call these character-building experiences. riding across Wyoming was this for me.....

to echo other comments, keep your schedule as flexible as possible. stay positive.
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Old 04-06-15, 09:31 AM
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How long is the tour in terms of days?

For most tours of a week or longer, I have a budget, not a schedule. In other words, I wake up in the morning and have a rough assessment of the possibilities for that day. It might be going 45 miles, 65 miles, 95 miles or staying where I am. Depending on the weather (including wind) and other factors, I'll figure it out as I go along. If that headwind kicked in, I might take what was I expected to be a 65-mile day and turn it into a 45 mile. On other hand if everything is going extra well and I have a tailwind, the 65 miles might turn into 95 miles.

Sometimes there might be a synchronization point (e.g. cycling through a sparsely populated area, really want to get to a town), at which point I'll push a little harder if necessary - but that isn't the usual case. A good example is recent trip I took over Christmas break in South Texas: Brownsville to Austin I drove to Brownsville and a direct route back to Austin would have been ~330 miles. I took it day by day and ended up swinging further west to go by way of Laredo and make it 484 miles instead. If the weather hadn't looked unfavorable [strong NW wind], I might have swung further west via Eagle Pass, but instead that day went NE to avoid that wind. By time I got to San Antonio, a cold front with temperatures near freezing but more importantly possibility of icy roads came through, so stayed in San Antonio for two days before cycling back.

On even longer trips, I'll have even more flexibility to adjust and keep my overall budget realistic so I don't get into a trap where I'm feeling more behind and somehow "behind schedule". The only situations where this sortof applies is in the shortest tours, e.g. on a weekend out and back - where if it looks good on Saturday, I might have headwinds on Sunday. However, even then for a lot of the country you can predict this weather by Friday and adjust accordingly.
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Old 04-06-15, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
Do you fight it until you die and stay on "schedule"?
By the way, in my reading of trip journals and encounters with cyclists, this seems to be a leading scenario for trips that are cancelled while underway. A few things play together:
- Lots of enthusiasm while planning details - resulting in a detailed schedule. Perhaps slightly optimistic, though probably doable if all goes well
- Some setback, e.g. major headwinds/rain or a medical issue like knee troubles or mechanical issue - that breaks the carefully constructed day-by-day schedule
- Pushing through instead to stay on schedule, perhaps aggravating the knee, the saddle sores or mechanical problems
- Eventually reaching point where it either isn't fun anymore or schedule becomes very difficult

That is why I'm an advocate of doing some calibration prior to the tour [e.g. smaller shakedown rides to understand what works for you] and for leaving some extra margin/contingency in any plans to adjust to circumstances. Also for my longer trips, I usually find I can add some extra side trips as I go along rather than feeling I'm behind and having to "catch up".
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Old 04-06-15, 10:11 AM
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I...am...taking...notes...please continue !
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Old 04-06-15, 10:13 AM
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Been there done that .. Its what makes Dutch Cyclists strong . Zwolle region, I was going North CCW around the IJsselmeer , then crossed The Afsluitdijk, southbound

Afsluitdijk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
IJsselmeer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 04-06-15, 10:23 AM
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That raises a point about possibly planning a somewhat sheltered route. part of the wind problem here is the corn has not gone up yet. Farmland, ya know.
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Old 04-06-15, 11:17 AM
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On a shorter tour (i.e., 5-8 days), I might be inclined to push on for one day, but would vary by planned destination on subsequent headwind days. On longer tours (i.e., 6-10 weeks), I am flexible: cutting days short on days with strong headwinds, and adding an extra 20-40 miles on days with strong tailwinds. I am more apt to have a hotel or airline reservation to worry about on the shorter tours.

Headwinds happen (as can semi-major mechanical problems), so you need to design some flexibility into your schedule.
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Old 04-06-15, 04:54 PM
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I've had really nasty headwinds for several days in a row when riding way up north where there's
little to no trees and very few rock bluffs to break their velocity. I absolutely hate riding all day
against them, but even going 5 miles per hour is better than twittling your thumbs in camp. That's
what multi-gearing is all about. I just exert my normal energy and continue to ride through it.
I also start very early and get in some decent mileage before they start in earnest.
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Old 04-07-15, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
I definitely expect wind and for it to come at a less than opportune times. Much as I'd like to have an open ended tour, I don't see that happening. So somehow I need to allot for snafus. I'm not going soon so I have time to learn the ins and outs of me-saddle-long-time.
When I have planned a somewhat more structured tour, I tentatively plan a 3 or 4 days on, 1 day off sort of schedule. That gives me an extra day for flexibility. I also try to plan days of a reasonable length.

In other words, if you think you can do a whole series of 100-mile rides in a row, that's great. But for a tour, maybe plan to ride 50-mile rides. That way, you can do longer rides if you feel like it ... and if you feel like cutting another day short, you can do that.
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