03 July 2016

A Great Ride, "In Spite Of"

Sometimes we say that a ride was good or great "in spite of"...the rain...the wind...the cloud cover...the traffic...the flat or mechanical malfunction...the fill-in-the-blank.

Yesterday's ride was one of those rides.   I didn't experience any disasters or mishaps.  And while the temperature reached 28C (82F) in the middle of the afternoon, it never seemed that warm.  Heavy rains the other night dissipated the humidity, and the bright sunshine forecast for the day was muted, at various times, by a scrim--sometimes a curtain--of clouds.  As much as I love sunshine, I appreciate such movements of clouds, especially when they don't bring any threat of rain with them.   After all, one thing cycling--or anything else--will never cure is my, ahem, melanin deficiency!

Image by John Hart.  From the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University (UK).

Anyway...the one complaint I could have made was the wind.  In that regard, this year has been very strange:  March, supposedly the windiest month, didn't seem particularly so, but every month since then has brought us more steady streams, and even gusts, than the one before.

And so it was yesterday.  I decided to take, intead of an "out and back" ride, one in which the route away from home would be different from the one that brought me back.  It wasn't quite a circular ride:  If anything, if I were to draw it on a map, it would probably be shaped more like an almond or an eye socket.

That was interesting and rewarding.  And, for most of the way out, I pedaled against the wind, sometimes gusting to 50 KPH (30 MPH).  Normally, I don't mind that, for it means--in most circumstances--that I would have the wind at my back on the way home.

Except that it didn't happen that way.  You guessed it:  I spent most of the trip home pedaling into wind just as strong as what I encountered on the way out.  I know that sometimes the wind shifts direction during the course of the day.  I also know that in particular locations, even ones only an hour's bike ride apart, the wind can blow in a different direction.  (Believe it or not, in the NYC Metro area, we have micro-climates, even within Manhattan!)  So, the plan of riding into the wind so you can let it carry you home works, except when it doesn't.


But I didn't mind.  All told, I rode about 130 kilometers (80 miles) on Arielle, my Mercian Audax.  With a name like that, you know she rides like the wind!  Now you know why I had a great ride, "in spite of"!


  1. Wind is a deep mystery! On a camping trip in the Shetland isles the wind had blown from the south for over a week so a long hard ride south without luggage for the day to visit a Viking village was expected but a dead easy ride back to camp. You can easily fill in the rest of the story!!

  2. Coline--The wind is indeed a deep mystery. If it's ever truly explained, there might be no mysteries left in life!

    Anyway...At least you understand that the wind does indeed change direction; it doesn't just seem that way because we're getting older!

  3. "Light and variable winds" translates to "30+mph gusts and always in your face."

  4. Mike--Good one!

    Sometimes I think weather reporters invented euphemism.