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Old 05-17-2013
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Bicycling as sailing

Last year I rode in a 100-mile gravel bike race, the Amanzo 100. The wind was from straight south all day. The weather service reported constant velocities over 30mph and gusts over 40mph. The high was in the upper 80ºs.

When heading dead downwind I quit pedaling, sat up in the saddle and put one arm out to the side for maximum windage. I watched my speedometer go past 25mph, headed towards 30mph. That's faster than I care go on loose gravel, because a spill at that speed would cost more skin than I wish to lose. (I guess I am risk averse and will never be an AC72 sailor). So I "reefed" by lowering my hands to the drops on the handlebars and going into a tuck until I was going a more manageable 20mph.

Turning 90º to a beam reach the wind was so strong that it was pushing my bike sideways across the gravel. I was making leeway, on a bike! I had to steer to weather to maintain a heading (i.e. stay on the road).

After another 90º turn to head straight up wind, well, grinding along with all your might in your lowest gear and barely making 5mph can only be described as beating upwind.


I ride this year's race tomorrow. The forecast is for winds around 10mph. Much more manageable, and would be OK for sailing too.

Have a great weekend, and may the wind be appropriate for your activities!
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