What’s with the wind?

Is it me, or are things getting windier?

My usual peace of the morning, which reaches its apex when the coffee has finished brewing, was shattered today when I discovered we were out of milk. This was annoying on two counts. One, I had planned a quiet day at home, catching up on reading, doing some writing, other “get-to-it” jobs and a casual bike ride in the afternoon. Two, it meant having deal with the disappointment of coffeeus interuptus and getting dressed to run down to the local squishy mart. These negatives were offset by the nice idea of a quick bike ride with the dog.

The dog normally gets a walk in the morning but is quite happy to substitute that for a run beside the bike. Today, however, no. I stood at the back door dressed for the ride and leash in hand. A call of “let’s go” to the dog was met with a furtive glance downwards and a skulk off to the bowels of the basement where my wife was starting up some laundry. Repeated calls met with nothing. The rising need for coffee won out and off I went.

I quickly realized the dog’s stubbornness and insubordination was actually a case of meteorological awareness. The wind was just howling! Besides blowing me around on the road, gravel whipped around and, it being recycling and garbage day, odd bits of household recycling flew around wantonly. It was bad enough up where I was; at ground level, the dog would have not been comfortable.

After a weird look from the clerk at the squishy mart (who is this crying man who wants to buy milk?), I finished my milk run and arrived home with a newly exfoliated face and total Heathcliff windswept look. Coffee was served and no one died.

According to the Weather Network, the wind is at 30 kph, gusting to 50 kph. Looking at my cycling log, and thinking back to a casual ride we cut short on Saturday, it seems we have had a full week of windy conditions. Am I imagining things, or does the wind seem to be a bigger or more frequent concern for cyclists?

The obvious reaction is to consider wind in light of apparent changes in our weather patterns over the last several years. This winter has certainly been notable in terms of the number and degree of record setting warmer days. While not wanting to get into a debate on climate change, either its causes or validity as a concept, it does seem that the weather is more extreme and unpredictable.

All of which is a concern to the everyday cyclist. For most people, bad weather is a deterrent to cycling. Strong and gusty winds make cycling less enjoyable and certainly more dangerous. Rain, doubly so. As one who bike commutes every day I can, I have a range of clothes that deal with variable weather, hot and cold, wet and dry. But what about the casual rider? Are they riding less because of the weather?

For some, or course, inclement weather is a challenge to be met head on with gusto (not to mention lots of cool clothing and technology). I must admit, some days a ride in the rain is a mentally refreshing event.

What about you? Do you worry about changes in weather patterns and how it may affect your riding? What do you do to deal with bad weather? (And, yes, there are lots of other reasons to worry about climate change and lots of other actions to take on the issue.)

To close out, here are a few videos of cyclists dealing with wind (or not). It’s interesting that the biggest indicator of the wind is the sound track.

Wind in Montana (love those bike lanes!).

Short clip of what looks like the aftermath of a wind-induced fall

A windy day out
I admire this guy’s staying power, but I think I would have headed home well before he does (clip is 30 minutes long, but you’ll get the idea quickly)

And finally, some tips on riding in the wind from Loving the Bike