Trail Ramblings: The Wind Is Our Constant Companion.

A lot of people were out on the trails, gravel, and pavement this past weekend. Where did you ride? I saw evidence of people out riding in every direction, even with the wind. Do you use predicted wind direction to help plan your ride? Saturday had a stiff south wind, so many people chose to ride South into a headwind to start, then had some crosswind, to finish with a tailwind. I saw others rode mostly crosswinds. Sunday did not have a windy forecast, but those north winds reached 20 mph. Like they say, in Nebraska the wind is our mountain. Only you never reach the top of that mountain, all you can do is turn around.

Sometimes you just do the best you can with what you’ve got. Saturday’s ride had us start with the tailwind into the hilliest section first, followed by a crosswind, then we turned around and stepped back alternating between head wind and cross wind with less hilly terrain.

Photo credit Corey Godfrey. An early start is best to try to avoid some of that wind.

Sunday’s ride was a special 100 miles of gravel to celebrate local graveler Matt Wills’ 100th consecutive monthly ride. He’s promised to write about his experience next week for Trail Ramblings, so stay tuned. The 50 miles north was at times a slog into the wind. With several stops to regroup and refuel, and a couple of muddy minimum maintenance roads where bikes were hiked, it took us almost 6 hours to get to our destination of Prague. The return trip with a tailwind took our sub-group about an hour and a half. The group split so that those who wanted to race back could do so and those who wanted to lollygag were also happy. The rest of us were in between.

Photo Credit: Corey Godfrey, Re-grouping.

The experience has gotten me thinking my tire tread is worn and that I need grippier, and possibly slightly wider, tires. Fast descents in loose gravel with that tailwind were a little more stressful than they should have been. Turning into the wind was also a little too exciting. Be aware that the wind does tend to push the front wheel and cause it to lessen it’s grip on the already loose gravel, threatening to take it out from under you. Putting a little weight into the handlebars should help with that. Also, crosswinds, especially where protected and open areas alternate, as where there are buildings or walls, can be dangerous. Maybe even sketchier is riding next to traffic in a crosswind where you can really be buffeted by a semi passing. In the Bohemian Alps up North we saw virtually no traffic, and also had almost no protection from the wind. The protected areas were the muddy areas. Still, it was a beautiful day with some of the finest riders around and I’m happy I went.
But it is March in Nebraska and we can hope for little else but windy rides. At least the weather forecast looks great, with a high temperature of 71 degrees next weekend! It will also feature our constant companion- the wind.

Who wouldn’t want to lollygag a little and enjoy an old bridge?