The Impossibility of Cycling with the Wind

There are times that I think my naivety knows no bounds. For some reason, when I head out on the bike, and the first leg is into the wind, I still mentally map out the route in my mind. I’m thinking – hmmm, easterly wind. Great – my home stretch is north-west, so I’ll a bit of tail wind.

More fool, me. The wind always changes. It knows which way the cyclists are riding, and adjusts accordingly. Just enough to make a difference. Take yesterday’s ride, for example. I cycled the route clockwise from the green dot in the top left corner, and the arrows show the wind direction.

Riding into the wind in all directions

Riding into the wind in all directions

This happens often. Well, often enough that I would remark on it. Sometimes, I think I’m deluding myself, and that on the way out, I must just have been cycling faster than the wind to such a degree, that it merely felt like a head wind. But generally, I think I’ve got the wind figured out.

In fact, I’ve got this devious behaviour so well taped that I think it deserves it’s own law. I’ve done a bit of searching to see if anyone else has discovered this law yet, but couldn’t find anything definite. (I did find this excellent article on Cyclo-Math, which deals with Bi-Directional Opposing Headwinds (BDOHs), as well as this piece, where the author came very close to discovering the truth.)

So here goes, for the Law of Aero Dynamism:

If there is a wind, and you are on a bicycle, then no matter which way it is blowing, and no matter which direction you are cycling in, it will always feel like a headwind.

There is only one situation where a temporary respite can be obtained – where a U-turn is executed when cycling into a particularly strong wind. But alas, even this is temporary, as it will only last while the wind discovers what heresy you have enacted. It will then hunt you down with a vengeance, and your days of pleasant cycling will be over. The best you can hope for in that situation is to appease the wind with the penance of pedalling, and be rewarded with an unexpected lull.


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