Cycling in high winds

Cycling in high winds

I was cycling west along Gorgie Road yesterday, working hard to maintain 20Km/h against a strong head wind (it always looks faster in Km/h than in MPH), when a sudden gust brought me to a standstill and I found myself using all my strength to track stand and not go backwards. Sadly, by the time I came to do the return journey, the wind had moderated somewhat and the tail wind was no more impressive than normal.

Yesterday’s wind may have been strong, but this was not the strongest wind I have ever ridden in, that was in my first year at The University of Edinburgh. At that time I was living at KB in the south of the city and had morning lectures at the Appleton Tower by George Square . As I rode up Causewayside (or as Google insist in calling it Ratcliffe Terrace) that morning, I was rather enjoying the tailwind as I sped up the hill, that was until the traffic light ahead turned red. I applied both brakes fully, only they seemed to have little effect. The cars were now crossing ahead of me, completely unaware of my plight. Both anchors were deployed (my feet were applied to the tarmac) and slowly I was brought to a halt. The gale reached its peak while I was sitting through a geology lecture, and when I came out of the Appleton Tower there was a small crowd of people standing at the corner. I walked up to join them and soon realised why, one person who had tried to get round the corner was hanging on to the railings, so as not to be blown away. When finally the wind had dropped enough, I started to cycle back down Causewayside, struggling to make progress downhill against the wind. Halfway down Causewayside, I found a length of lead flashing about two meters long, which an hour or so previously had been part of a roof and was now lying across the road. I was thankful that I hadn’t been there when it came down.

Head winds and tail winds are not the whole story of course, there are also side winds. These can be very unpredictable and rather dangerous. I have been on occasions blown sideways towards the oncoming traffic, but so far, not into it. On another occasion while cycling down Causewayside I was caught by a wind shear and blown off my bike, but that is a story for another day…

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