Thursday, March 08, 2012

March Winds

Rest before turning with the wind
March winds- They have quite a reputation in these parts, and boy, did March ever live up to that reputation yesterday!

I headed out knowing that the wind was supposed to be about 15-20mph. Forecast to be from the South, I also knew I wanted a tail wind for the return trip, so I headed south first. It always takes more time to reach gravel going South rather than North, but I am glad I chose going South first yesterday.

Getting to the edge of town I could feel the intensity of the wind in the more open country. This sure didn't feel like 15-20 mph to me! More like 25-30mph with higher gusts. Oh well, I was out here and I put my head down and ground out the miles South.

It was pretty readily apparent when small furry animals were flying by my head that the wind was stronger than the weatherman had predicted. Well, I am being a bit over-dramatic, there weren't any small furry animals flying by my head. That was because they probably were either hiding or in Southern Minnesota by the time I had got out of town.

Now I have been in some pretty intense winds on my bicycle and during the putting on of Trans Iowa a few times. This was starting to become reminiscent of those experiences. If these were 20mph winds, I am a monkey's uncle.

Drafting corn stalk bales.
I thought at first it would be nice to go all the way to Tama County, but after two miles and a sharp pain in my right knee was beating up my brain, I thought the better of it. I was maybe crawling at the high velocity of 4mph, spinning as much as I could, but the knee wasn't liking the sustained high load.

I couldn't coast, because the minute I stopped pedaling on a down hill I would come to a halt. The wind was so strong, I was either pedaling as hard as I could, on down hills, or pedaling harder than that.

Okay, so a right turn should alleviate the pain and suffering, no? Ha! If anything, it was even worse than before, because now I had to wrestle the bike from being thrown into the ditch. This was ridiculous. I found a respite suddenly where there was little resistance. What? I looked around, and there was a house about 500 yards off the road with some trees about it. The wind was going so fast and so straight that I was catching a draft off the house. Crazy! Once I cleared the house, and got from behind the shadow of its draft, it was like someone slammed my brakes on again.

Eventually I came up along some piled up corn stalk bales and stopped to rest. It was eerily calm behind them all the way across the road, but you could hear the wind ripping about all around me.

Barns For Jason
Well, two miles or so of this battling cross winds was enough, so I turned with the wind after another short respite for my legs, and it was obviously very fast. I clicked it up into the big ring and hammered it all the way back home.

It was fun to go at a high rate of speed on the gravel roads. The ol' Orange Crush rig handles pretty well, actually, and with the IRC 42mm tires I have on there, I am pretty happy. They are not as fast as the bigger Bontrager XR-1's, but I can have fenders for now, which is greatly appreciated while it is still messy.

So I finally pulled back into the homestead and finished up the ride. It was good to get out there, but I sure could do without all that wind. I figured I worked pretty hard, so a longer ride would have only done damage to the knee, which calmed down after I got back with the wind on my bike. Going against it, or even getting a sideways blast, wasn't doing it any good.

And another thing, I couldn't help but think about Trans Iowa V4 while I was out riding. That was a windy son of a gun that year, and I recalled riders telling me they had gotten blown right off their bikes into the ditch that year, or knocked over by the unrelenting winds. The gusts of over 40mph weren't quite there today, but the consistent wind was very similar. Let's hope T.I.V8 doesn't have anything of the like!


George said...

I feel sully for complaining about my perpetual headwind ride yesterday now. Rest that knee up, it's still early!

Ari said...

What you need are laydown bars!