12 February 2011

In A Valley Or A Tunnel Of Wind?

Today I got out for a brief spin on Marianela.  I didn't go much beyond my neighborhood.  But it's nice to loop through side streets that are mostly free of traffic.  I was surprised at how clear they were:  Just a few days ago, there were patches of ice on even the more heavily-used thoroughfares.  

The temperature reached 40 F (5C), which is about normal for an afternoon at this time of year.  However, the wind made it feel a good bit colder.  According to a weather report I heard, we had wind gusts of 40 mph (about 65 kph). I don't think I was riding into, or with, anything so strong.  But I certainly did feel it.  

Usually, when most people think of wind, they think of open, flat areas.  I think of the creation stories and other lore of the Native American tribes who lived in the plains and the desert:  In them, "it is the wind that gave them life," as it did in the Navajo chant I've quoted. And in the places where they lived, when there was wind, there was no escaping from it.  On the other hand, if there isn't wind where you're pedaling, you're not likely to encounter any for a while.

On the other hand, the wind seems to be a more capricious part of urban cycling. Sometimes buildings can act as wind blocks.  However, long rows of the same buildings seem to create a "wind tunnel" effect.  At other times, they are a kind of "valley" of stillness among the relative turbulence.

Now, it's been at least three decades since I took a Physics course.  So I'm sure I've forgotten a lot.  Did the instructor, or the textbook, ever explain why the wind that's blowing in one part of town is stopped by one block full of buildings but intensifies in another.

Anyway...The ride was pleasant, if unremarkable.  My only complaint was that my camera's batteries were dead and I didn't find out until I tried to take a photo. Oh well.


  1. Why is it the camera battery is dead when you need it most? Especially frustrating after you've carried it along, waiting for that special shot, then nothing.

    I like the Lakota saying you quoted. Not only did it give us life, it is giving us warmth today, as a moderate southwesterly has brought the temp above 32F for the first time in a long time! Blow wind, blow!

  2. Big Oak (I love that name!): There must be some corollary to Murphy's Law regarding batteries in cameras!

    Whatever gives us life also gives us whatever comes with life, whether it's hot or cold weather, or sun or snow. When I think of it that way, it makes sense that the wind would give us life. Maybe I'm really a Lakota manque.

    Where are you, anyway? This week, we've had our first above-freezing temperatures since at least Christmas.

  3. Nice that you got out for a spin. I've been sick all weekend; so not much riding for me this w/e. The street I live on still looks like an ice skate rink. We had some fierce cold wind here too.

  4. I'm from northeast corner of Indiana, just north of Fort Wayne.

  5. SM: I hope you feel better and that your street, if it's not cleared, at least looks like a tobaggan run. At least you can ride that with studded tires!

    Big Oak: I know we haven't been alone in having a harsher-than-normal winter. But I'd rather hear about it from people like you who are experiencing it than from official reports!

  6. We've had a pretty average winter, we had only one warm spell (above freezing), just before New Year's. I know you folks on the east coast have been hammered by snow. My in-laws live in so. Vermont, and they've gotten a lot, but I believe NYC has gotten more.