Wind Power

Today began spring break, and because it was Good Friday, it wasn’t only teachers who had the day off. Accordingly, we scheduled a ride for this morning.

Unfortunately, the start was earlier than I wanted on my first day of the break. I knew the route, though, and decided to get the best of all worlds by sleeping in and then riding the route in the opposite direction of the group. When I met them – ideally about 30 miles along – I’d turn around and head back with the group, giving me a nice 60 mile ride.

Doing this involved a bit more thinking than I would have liked; I almost felt like I was doing an algebra problem as I calculated distances and average speeds. Still, I felt confident I could leave my house and hour and a half after the ride start and meet the group at their planned rest stop, which would be at mile 50 for them and mile 30 for me.

It would have worked, too, if the majority of my solo effort hadn’t been into a 15-20 mph headwind. That sucked. On more than one occasion, I was on a flat in my granny gear spinning at 12 mph. Those were sections where I’m usually cruising in the 20’s. The wind doesn’t just slow me down, either. It sucks the life out of my ride. Rather than shooting forward and enjoying the momentum of every pedal stroke, each one seems like an individual fight for an inch of road. The worst part about this one was that I knew I could turn around at any moment and enjoy a tailwind. But I’d told the group I’d meet them. I just kept pedalling.

Finally, a mile or so short of the planned rendezvous, I saw the group. Because I met them after their rest stop, I wouldn’t get one. I didn’t care, I could not wait to fall into the pace line and have the wind at my back. The rest of the ride was far more enjoyable.

Because I was curious, I checked my average speed when I met the group and then reset my odometer. The results? By myself into a headwind I averaged 16 mph. With the group and with the wind at our backs it was 21.5.

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