Saddle the Wind

A perfectly serviceable western of 1958 from what I have read, perhaps most notable for being written by Rod Serling who went on to find fame with the Twilight Zone. However, in this instance it is merely being used as a small artifice to introduce today’s ramblings.

Most of my shorter journeys (sub 10 or so miles) I tend to make by velocipede, not through any great virtue on my part but because I much prefer cycling to driving (and in these traffic-choked isles it is often faster – and always cheaper). Living near Cambridge my life awheel is pleasingly free of major gradients – but is oft afflicted by the blight of wind (not a reflection on my largely vegetarian diet but on the local weather). Friends have suggested that they would prefer more varied topography but lower average wind speed – to which I tend to reply that a hill is there every day, whereas sometimes the wind dies down and (very occasionally) a passing zephyr can provide assistance.

This morning the wind was in its more typical mode of hindering the cyclist – in fact, at the time I headed out to the west it achieved its greatest force in 2011, gusting to gale force from (yes, you guessed it) the west. This was rather hard work for my ageing limbs – to be honest, only the two lower ones were doing much work, the other pair were very much hangers-on.

The Beaufort scale is a handy method for describing wind strength (this morning’s gusts were force 8, Whole Gale) – but the old Admiral was a naval chap and the descriptions of wind speed do have a rather nautical bent. I feel someone needs to create a Beaufort scale for the modern cyclist, for whom, knowing that the sea has “moderately high waves with breaking crests forming spindrift” is of rather limited utility. Based on this morning’s experience, force 8 equates to “hard work cycling down hill” (describing the up hill portion of my journey would lose this blog its PG rating).

I’ve often wondered about the possibility of using the wind to my benefit on the bike – to, as it were, saddle the wind (see, this blog isn’t just thrown together, it has production values!).  However, I have yet to work out how to tack successfully, which would be vital for successful bicycle sailing given the frequency with which the wind is agin me. I am also rather worried about gybing – it looks scary enough in a boat. If anyone has any ideas to make my wind assisted cycling dreams come true don’t hold back…


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