I always look forward to Spring Break. Often, I’m out of town, but this year I had plans to stay home and do a lot of riding. But we had to run up to Dallas Tuesday and Wednesday, which put a hole in those plans. This morning, I was ready to get out and put down some miles.
I haven’t had a lot of decent mileage rides yet this year. Time seems to get in the way, and I usually can’t find more than an hour and a half for the bike. That’s good for about 20-25 miles — a nice ride, but not what I’ve been looking for.
So today, I was ready. Pat would be at some business appointments around town, and I had the morning to myself. It was an almost perfect day: overcast, in the upper 60s, but with a brisk cool wind that forced me to put on my arm warmers for comfort.
I decided to head for a favorite destination of mine — the little town of Creedmoor, southeast of Austin. With the wind blowing from the southeast, I knew I would struggle heading out — but I would have a nice tailwind heading back.
Mostly, when I ride to Creedmoor, it’s on Sunday mornings when the traffic is almost nonexistent. Today, I had to contend with lots of trucks. Mostly, they were pretty good. They gave me room on the right, and often waited behind me if the road was narrow.
I didn’t break any speed records getting to Creedmoor, but I wasn’t trying to, and the wind wasn’t helping. We always stop at a gas station/convenience store to fill water bottles and take a break, and I did this time, too. The few people going into and out of the store were friendly, and almost every one of them had a pleasant, “Good mornin’.”
I finished a Clif Bar, and got back on the bike. The ride back was going to be a good one. Right off the bat, the farm-to-market road I was on pointed down, and with the wind at my back, I easily topped 30 mph, just coasting along. It happened again a few minutes later on another northbound road. And that would be the last time on this ride that the wind would be my friend.
Going west on a narrow country road, I felt a strong cross wind. If the wind was continuing from the southeast, it should have pushed me along, not hindered me. Clearly, it was now coming straight from the south. I couldn’t depend on that helping tailwind.
I reached a built-up intersection, and saw from the flags flying from some buildings that my suspicions were correct. The wind had shifted. But it had shifted to more than south. Now, it was blowing from the southwest. It would be more or less in my face most of the way home.
As I pedaled, I shifted my left hand to near the center of my bar, and grabbed my water bottle with my right. I nearly fell over. A gust of wind got the bike, and pushed it toward the curb. I got it back under control, but knew I would have to pay attention from here on out.
So it was a bit of a slog. I still got in more miles than I’d done so far this year, so that was good. But it occurred to me that I can’t remember a ride where one leg was so much better because of a helping wind. I’m sure the wind god is saying, “Here comes the Bike Noob — let’s get ‘im.”
Ah, the wind god. She’s a fickle mistress.
Here’s the thing about wind – it works against you for 270 degrees. Only when it is coming from within 45 degrees of your rear do you enjoy the benefit. All other times it’s impeding you. Obviously, the degree of impediment increases as it moves to your direct front, but suffice it to say that 75% of the time (on average) the wind is not your friend.
A lot of folks in my cycling club always say: “the wind is you friend”. I reply, “that is one bastard of a friend to have” 😀
The wind on my rides is usually a mix of ocean aroma and salt. Not good for the paint on my bike or fingernails.