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How Much Wind is too Much?

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How Much Wind is too Much?

Old 10-21-13, 06:17 PM
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tigat
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How Much Wind is too Much?

Drove from Colorado to Montana last week to visit my younger son. On Saturday, he went rock climbing with some friends at Natural Bridge, about 90 minutes southeast of Bozeman. This would be a much better thread with pictures--that place is surreal in its beauty.

I wasn't terribly comfortable nursing my still broken hip up and down the cliffs, with only one hand at my disposal, and decided a ride was a better idea. In the canyon by the falls, somewhat sheltered, the wind felt like it was only about 10 mph or so, manageable.

Heading east on 298, the only road out, I hit 38 mph pretty quickly. I wasn't pedaling hard. I wasn't descending. Oops. Maybe a bit more wind than I thought. The first time I caught a cross wind confirmed it. It picked me up and pushed me a few feet across the road. After that, it was white knuclkes all the way out, my one hand holding on in a death grip. Even at a speed reduced for safety's sake, 15 miles out on paved rollers took me only 33 minutes.

Strategically, I turned to head back after coasting (no need to pedal) up a rise, thinking I'd at least start out with a down hill. No such luck. I had to hammer to get up to 15 mph, and the wind was howling in my ears like I was going 50. The hour and change it took me to ride back was one of the toughest, and scariest slogs I can remember. At times, I was slowed almost to a stop by a gust of wind. Cross wind sections were even worse. I'm not sure that a riding partner or two would have helped, as I was all over the place.

Realistically, the wind was probably only 25 steady, with gusts to 35 or so, but well beyond my comfort zone. It is unlikely that I will knowingly set out to duplicate the feat. Hence my question: how much wind is too much for the riders on the 50+?
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Old 10-21-13, 07:06 PM
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I ride a lot in northern NM, and I know what you mean about getting pushed across a road - going downhill, into the wrong lane. For me, it's the variable gusts. I don't mind riding into the wind, but gusting from different directions isn't good for anyone. Also, your rim depth is a big factor. What's too much for me to ride? When the big wind gong on the back porch starts ringing.
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Old 10-21-13, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
Drove from Colorado to Montana last week to visit my younger son. On Saturday, he went rock climbing with some friends at Natural Bridge, about 90 minutes southeast of Bozeman. This would be a much better thread with pictures--that place is surreal in its beauty.

I wasn't terribly comfortable nursing my still broken hip up and down the cliffs, with only one hand at my disposal, and decided a ride was a better idea. In the canyon by the falls, somewhat sheltered, the wind felt like it was only about 10 mph or so, manageable.

Heading east on 298, the only road out, I hit 38 mph pretty quickly. I wasn't pedaling hard. I wasn't descending. Oops. Maybe a bit more wind than I thought. The first time I caught a cross wind confirmed it. It picked me up and pushed me a few feet across the road. After that, it was white knuclkes all the way out, my one hand holding on in a death grip. Even at a speed reduced for safety's sake, 15 miles out on paved rollers took me only 33 minutes.

Strategically, I turned to head back after coasting (no need to pedal) up a rise, thinking I'd at least start out with a down hill. No such luck. I had to hammer to get up to 15 mph, and the wind was howling in my ears like I was going 50. The hour and change it took me to ride back was one of the toughest, and scariest slogs I can remember. At times, I was slowed almost to a stop by a gust of wind. Cross wind sections were even worse. I'm not sure that a riding partner or two would have helped, as I was all over the place.

Realistically, the wind was probably only 25 steady, with gusts to 35 or so, but well beyond my comfort zone. It is unlikely that I will knowingly set out to duplicate the feat. Hence my question: how much wind is too much for the riders on the 50+?
Wind that is faster then I ride, currently about 20km/h ....
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Old 10-21-13, 07:12 PM
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I have my wind stories.

How much is too much?

So much that it's dangerous. If it gets to the point where unexpected gusts could blow you into danger (onto the shoulder or into traffic), it is time to pack it in. Anything less than that, and it depends on how much you want to suffer.

My worst experience was with 35 MPH headwinds with 65 MPH gusts ... and in a playa where there was NOTHING to break the wind and slow it down (even small shrubs can really help). That was truly absurd. About all I can say good about that day was that it set a new standard for how bad winds could be. Anything since is a trifling breeze in comparison.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:03 PM
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Being from Nebr, we have to ride on windy days, or not at all. I have a recumbent bike and a trike that I ride about 50-50. But when the wind is really high, I alway take the trike. Even if it is a side wind, on a two wheeler it can be dangerous if the wind is really high.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:16 PM
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With a headwind it's just a matter of gearing down, ignoring the speedometer, and managing expectations. Water and food can become a problem eventually though

Crosswinds are a whole 'nother story. I have on occasion enjoyed the challenge and unique experience of cycling not perpendicular to the ground, marveling at the odd noises wind can make when rushing around telephone poles and wires and helmet vents and such. But throw in gusts and some traffic, and I think it's time to do something different - as long as it doesn't involve setting up a tent.

Somewhere on Youtube is a humorous video of some Dutch cyclists attempting to ride in a ridiculous crosswind. One poor skinny fellow I think has to be rescued by the team car.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:21 PM
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Panhandle of Texas has those 35 plus mph gusts that will slow you to a crawl. I've seen their windstorms blow mobile homes in transit right off the road, tearing them up and scattering the siding for miles. they would slow a 6 cylinder car down to about 40 mph. I don't believe I have ever ridden in anything like that since I moved from there.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:33 PM
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I don't know how strong it was but I struggled riding home into a headwind for ten miles at 6 mph
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Old 10-21-13, 09:04 PM
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Had to deal with 45mph winds, 60 gusts, a couple years ago; not fun. Still commuted, though, and took a longer, scenic route home.

I get a little irascible when the gusts bring me nearly to a stop.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:09 PM
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How much is too much? I'll hazard a guess of 20 to 25 mph sustained with higher gusts, 30 to 35. Above that, and it's no fun and getting dicey in terms of controlling the bike when one is on a public thoroughfare.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:23 PM
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Winds where I ride are often in the mid 30s with gusts in the mid 40s to 55 MPH. The tends to happen in the spring and sometimes in the fall. If the wind is below 20 MPH sustained it's a calm day!

Riding area is flat with virtually no trees or buildings where I ride. So it's almost always windy, but we have NO hills to speak of. This year I rode some mountains for the first time. Grades as high as 20%, don't know which is worse, winds or climbing. I'm really used to the winds so the climbing was a bit nerve racking but I did it.

I have been knocked to the ground once when turning around against the wind. But it's nice with the wind at your back....strong crosswinds are the most difficult for me. Seems like I really strain by holding onto the bike in a strong crosswind.
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Old 10-21-13, 10:04 PM
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Don't often get wind in the Pacific Northwest, but I have noticed my steel tourer feels a lot safer in crosswinds than does my road bike.
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Old 10-22-13, 06:43 AM
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We get a lot of wind here in Southern New Mexico. In the Spring, it's often warm out, but too windy to ride. What's too Windy? For me, it depends on the actual temperature and how much saddle time I've had recently.

I ride for fun and fitness The wind in the Fall is usually tolerable. 20mph, 35+mph gusts, I may only do 10-15 miles. Riding has become a lot less fun. In the Spring, with gusts to almost 70, it's warm out but I don't ride. No fun.

This time of year, the wind changes direction every other day. So while I ride the same route all the time, it's like a new route depending on which way the wind blows!
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Old 10-22-13, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
My worst experience was with 35 MPH headwinds with 65 MPH gusts ... and in a playa where there was NOTHING to break the wind and slow it down (even small shrubs can really help).
Well don't hate the playa, hate the game.
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Old 10-22-13, 08:54 AM
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I live in a city on the shore of a Great Lake. Remember the Gordon Lightfoot song, "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"? There's a line in it about the gales of November came early. Pretty typical Great Lakes weather from late autumn to early spring.

Right now winds here are westerly, sustained in the 20s, gusting to the 30s. I'm thinking of taking my long loop to work today, since it's so sunny and nice. Six miles tailwind, nine miles headwind, one mile tailwind. I'll leave a few minutes early.
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Old 10-22-13, 08:56 AM
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I agree with those who pointed out that wind speed isn't as much of a factor as the other characteristics of the wind. Buffetting gusts are much more difficult to ride than a steady wind. I've been out a few times where it was like trying to ride through a pillow fight with short blasts of wind of varying intensity and quickly changing wind direction. I'll take a steady 25-30 mph wind over that any day. I also agree with statements that it is "too much" wind when it becomes dangerous to the rider who can no longer adequately control his/her bike.
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Old 10-22-13, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
My worst experience was with 35 MPH headwinds with 65 MPH gusts
I have one of those. I was trying to get a ride in before the winds hit. I didn't make it. Triple, small ring, big cog, barely moving. It was fun.

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Old 10-22-13, 09:18 AM
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I live on the Monterey Bay, a great sailing area. Yup, that means wind all spring, 10-30 knots. I find, when the road /bike lane permits, ear plugs are a great help in easing the effects of the wind. I also pick my routes depending on the wind strength and direction. I try to avoid riding into any wind for any length of time that is pushing 15 knots or higher.
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Old 10-22-13, 09:51 AM
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I once was riding directly into a strong headwind on a flat road with no trees or even tall corn to block the wind. I kept shifting down in an attempt to keep the RPMs up. I finally ran out of gears and I had a 30x27 triple setup! A few miles more I gave up and turned around to enjoy the tailwind back to the start.

Later I checked the weather reports and there were 40+ mph winds with guts into the 50s.

Thankfully there wasn't much in the way of crosswinds.
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Old 10-22-13, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
Well don't hate the playa, hate the game.


Originally Posted by tsl View Post
I have one of those. I was trying to get a ride in before the winds hit. I didn't make it. Triple, small ring, big cog, barely moving. It was fun.

I gotta say, if this thread is an indication, a lot of us 50+ers have ridden in some pretty crazy winds!
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Old 10-22-13, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
I have one of those. I was trying to get a ride in before the winds hit. I didn't make it. Triple, small ring, big cog, barely moving. It was fun.

I've ridden in those kind of winds but NOT AT 45 degrees!! Yeow... No way am I going to ride a bike when it is that windy and below 50... Of course most people would not ride a bike in temps of over 121F which I have done.

But I don't like cold, guess that's why I live in Texas.
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Old 10-22-13, 11:34 AM
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Wow TSL. I went to school in Rochester. Very cloudy and windy! And cold by Southern NM standards!
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Old 10-22-13, 11:46 AM
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[Bike Commuter] If I had a Headwind between myself and my Home , I cope.

sometimes my ground speed drops off quite a Bit, when I have to do that.
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Old 10-22-13, 01:16 PM
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A Big offroad ride travelling west to east. Wind coming from the South and gradually increasing as the day went on and it gradually changed from a cross wind to a headwind. Got to about 55 miles and going up a narrow gulley and it was great- no wind of any kind till we got to the top and it came as a headwind from the South east. Stopped us in our tracks. Held that wind from the South East and no gusting but it was strong. 60 miles and passed some pylons and the wind noise was horrendous. Must have been up to about 50 MPH. We decided that was enough and decided to stop at 65 miles if it did not improve. The organisors warned us that wind strength was increasing- rain expected and on the exposed track ahead riders were being blown off their bikes. We stopped.
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Old 10-22-13, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
With a headwind it's just a matter of gearing down, ignoring the speedometer, and managing expectations. Water and food can become a problem eventually though

Crosswinds are a whole 'nother story. I have on occasion enjoyed the challenge and unique experience of cycling not perpendicular to the ground, marveling at the odd noises wind can make when rushing around telephone poles and wires and helmet vents and such. But throw in gusts and some traffic, and I think it's time to do something different - as long as it doesn't involve setting up a tent.

Somewhere on Youtube is a humorous video of some Dutch cyclists attempting to ride in a ridiculous crosswind. One poor skinny fellow I think has to be rescued by the team car.

^^^^ This. Headwinds are too strong when I have to walk the bike 100' into the wind, turn around, and ride downwind to get any starting headway. Which I've had to do only once. I got a mile into the ride, turned around, and called it a day. It was insane to even try, but you know, rule #5 and all that stuff.

Crosswinds are a whole 'nother matter. If you're riding with your downwind hand on the hoods or tops, and your upwind hand on the drops, to kind of lean into it while trying to track straight, it's too windy.
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