Sunday, April 24, 2011


I spent a few minutes trying to think of a clever title for this post, but in the end I went with minimalism. There are lots of wonderful things about spring biking, but the wind is not necessarily one of them. Up here in the sheltered hills of New England I suspect we don't know from wind, but it's still enough to make me nervous about being blown off my bike.

Last weekend I was out in the Berkshires for a meeting, and I went for an early morning ride with one of the other meeting attendees. Here's the scene while I waited to meet him at 6:15:

This isn't the best angle maybe, but yes, that flag is whipping in the wind. The good news is, the wind was really the least of my problems on this ride. My fellow rider is in his mid to late 50's and has a job that has got to be way more demanding than mine, but none of this keeps him from being an order of magnitude stronger than I am on the bike. I think he might have been checking his email while I chugged along to catch up to him on every climb (and there were a lot of climbs). For awhile whenever we weren't slogging up some frost-heave-decorated mountainlet in southern Vermont or screaming down some similarly treacherous descent, I rode alongside him so we could chat. But when we made the turn to head south for the final few miles and turned straight into the above headwind, I used my last good lungful of air to gasp, "Do you mind if I just grab your wheel?" And my AARP-card-carrying friend pulled my sorry a** back to town.

The good news is, I managed not to blow my nose onto him. Probably because he was never behind me.

This week I had a quick hill repeat workout on my plan. The day of the workout, my weather app was sporting a red exclamation point about 40 mph gusts of wind, and I thought seriously about ditching the workout. I had trouble walking across campus, the wind was so strong. But then I remembered that I want to suck less on the bike this year.

It was a beautiful day, and the hill I was riding on was oriented so I got more straight head- or tailwind than crosswind, which I prefer. (Of course the headwind occurred going up the hill, not down.) Here is a view from halfway down the hill, where you can see part of the Holyoke range in the distance if you look closely:

And here is a house whose paint job is either new this year or I've just never noticed it before:

In case this isn't obvious, I stopped to take these pictures; I was doing well to stay on the bike with both hands on the handlebars. My goal for the ride was not to hold on with a death grip, though, which is my tendency when it's windy. Or, if I'm being honest, just in general. I could move my arms afterwards, though, so I think I did OK with this.

Happy Easter!

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