Sunday, April 14, 2024

Country Views: Battling The Wind

The flags were about to rip from the flag poles on Friday.
The weather warmed a bit on Friday, the skies were beautiful, but there was an invisible enemy of cyclists about. The Wind! It was really blowing hard Friday at 25mph -30mph with a few higher gusts. Did I let that stop me? 

Not this time!

Early to mid-April can be warm, even in a stiff wind, so I just wore my Twin Six Thermal jersey and a Twin Six wind vest and I was all good to go. Had this happened in March it would have been a no-go due to the wind chills, and as it was, I probably should not have ventured out. You'll read why in a bit here. 

When the wind is out of the Northwest, as it was on Friday, I have the perfect route which keeps me sheltered going North and West until I get to gravel heading East and South. This is the route I used on Friday, and it was a good thing I did. If I had been out in the open going those directions I wouldn't have ridden very far and I would have been beaten to death by that brutal wind.

Part of the route out to gravel was on the Big Wood Lake bike path.

The second I hit gravel I am headed East.

The thing was, my route out gave me a false sense of security. I had no idea how violent the winds were out in the open. Going East on Mt. Vernon Road did not really give me the full read either, not at first, as I was just doing some rollers and there were trees enough that I wasn't getting the full brunt of the winds. 

This field looked planted.
The only vehicle I saw on the entire ride on the gravel roads.

The fields look worked up in a lot of places now. Some looked planted, but I have no idea with what. I imagine that it would be corn, but I could be wrong about that. I also imagine that farmers will be stepping up the planting around here as the days are getting warmer and the nights are starting to be almost always above freezing. 

This long down hill run provided a little more excitement than I would have asked for typically.

Just visiting......this time!

As I crested the hill at the intersection of Streeter Road and Mount Vernon Road, I began to understand that this wind might be more than I had bargained for. I was immediately going something above 30mph and then there were the gusts! The bike was getting pushed hard from the left side and I had to catch it a couple of times before I decided to lean harder on the front wheel to pin it down a bit more so I wouldn't have to react to another wind induced swerve. And of course, I was going even faster by this time. 

It was definitely one of those "I'm not in control here" moments that I just had to hang on, try to guide the bike into the best lines, and hope that everything stayed vertical. This went on for a bit over a half a mile before I felt like I had control back again. Mt. Vernon Cemetery was coming up, so I decided to gather myself back together there for a few moments before carrying on again. 

The County has been using this weird disc-like implement pulled behind a tractor to disc up the gravel off the edges of the road and kick it out into the roadway for the maintainer to re-spread across the roadway. They had done this over Mt. Vernon Road and while it was ten times easier to navigate than deep, fresh chunky goodness, it was soft and slowed your momentum down. 

That's a new one on me and I wonder if it is a cost-saving measure the County is employing to help avoid having to pay for more fresh gravel. The prices on fresh gravel have risen sharply, so I have to think this has influenced the County to take other measures to maintain the roads. 

Heading South was like being on a self-propelled vehicle. The tailwind was amazing. But this made every downhill a sketchy ride and the fresh patches of loose gravel the County was spreading at the bottom of every hill wasn't helping me out there at all. So, I wasn't too sad to get back to Waterloo. I had seen and experienced enough of that. 

Maybe I'll reconsider riding if the winds are that high again. No need to subject myself to possibly being blown off the road and injuring myself! But to have experienced that and to have made it home in one piece was nice to have behind me.


teamdarb said...

The wind was a bear on the edges of the USA , too. Yesterday before I gave up riding, a few motorcyclist passed by on stretched rigs. I had just crossed over the roadway when I spotted them turning back around. One of the motorcyclist caught eye with me and gave a smirk. I think at that moment we all were of the same mindset. The one thing that beats me in this level of constant gusting is the raw noise rushing pass my ears. The noise is the most tiring part of getting thru the distances.

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb - Wind noise can drain you mentally, I agree. You really notice the difference once you turn out of the wind and you experience that "Ahhhh!" feeling of no wind noise. Sure, the tailwind is great, but that nose being gone also gives you a lift mentally which I think is a bigger deal sometimes than having the tailwind.