Advanced Lessons: Wind and Gyroscopes

If you’ve been following these “rides”, you know I’ve been riding for just over a month now. I’ve talked about always reviewing the basics while riding and one of those topics that was covered in the class, but was not able to be demonstrated, was wind from a truck. I’ve done that. The wind from the trucks, however, is nothing compared to that which may follow with a weather front. I’m talking about wind gusts.

I’ve become very aware of the weather since I started riding. Before I think about riding, I check the weather forecast. I use the Weather Channel app on my Android phone. I’ve gotten to know that a 20% chance of rain is just that: a chance or probability of rain based on historic data. In other words, on the day in question (for however long stats have been kept), it has rained on 20% of all of those day (say, 9 April). That doesn’t mean a whole lot because that data is usually not in context. Context take into account other speculation of current weather patterns and prevailing wind, which brings me back around to today. It rained (said 20% for the morning…) like gang busters for about two hours this morning (8-10). I figured I would be rain free by lunchtime, and it was…

I went out just before noon. There was a little breeze. No problem. There usually is after it rains. You know the idiom about the word “assume”? Hold that thought. I took off to enjoy the ride. Now, thinking back on the riding class, there was a “wind chill” chart in the book. What I forgot about was the fact that you “moving” on the bike is the same as facing a 45 MPH wind. Always dress for the expected temperature. Ding on me, it was a little chilly with only a long-sleeved T-shirt. Lesson learned there. Lesson two is the real focus of this post: dealing with wind gusts.

I started out on another back, two-laned road. Light traffic, dry roads for the most part (pots holes filled with water), and a little wind. I noticed that the tree tops were waving. Not so much at me, but that they were indicating a stiffer breeze at tree top level. As the road wound around, I started to experience gusts like I was passing heavy semi-trucks going the other way. I’ve dealt with that before so no biggie. Just let the bike do what the bike is going to do and gyroscopic forces will keep you up.

When I got to the bottom of my loop to head back home up the highway, the wind took on a whole ‘nother personality! The road was four-lane divided and trees were cut back or just starting to grow back. There were also several cross roads where the wind was channeled into some serious (at least for me) cross wind. Now, I’ve said I’ve been buffeted by wind from passing trucks. A puff or two and you’re done. This was far different!

I’ve experienced cross winds while drive in the car and aside from the “shaking”, everything was fine. I’ve also driving in storms where I thought the car was being shaken by an angry toddler. That’s what this felt like. Remember, you’ve always got to keep your mind focused on what is going on; you have to be ready for anything. This gust shook me like no other wind ever had before – physically and mentally. For the briefest of a millisecond, the question whizzed through my mind, “WHY THE HELL AM I OUT HERE?!?” Mind on the task at hand – hold on! Let the bike do what the bike’s gonna do and ride those gyroscopes! The bike will keep you up.

Jeff Allmond

10 April 2020

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