Cutty Sark

It was foul weather yesterday, steady driven rain that left me stuck in the house all day, watching it sheet past the kitchen window. Today, as is often the way, was better: bright, cold and breezy. Really breezy. Really, really breezy, as I found once I got onto my bike and into the teeth of the wind.

David Hembrow had an interesting post about head winds in the Netherlands, and how they can be just as much a problem as hills are in a less flat country. The Dutch, of course, have their own practical solution – they fit tri-bars onto their granny bikes so they can be all upright and urban-chic in the shelter of the cities, and then adopt a more aerodynamic posture when they’re battling across the polders with their entire extended family in a trailer off the back, or whatever it is they do on their bikes. It looks a bit odd, but it’s practical, and this is the nation that brought the world clogs, so I don’t think they care much what the rest of us think.

There’s no room on my handlebars (what with the light bracket and the bell and the air horn and the gear lever and the bird poo) for tri bars or anything else, sadly, so as I battled up the longest hill into the gale, I had to adopt my own, rather unorthodox, approach to aerodynamics. With my hands still on the handlebars, I stand up on the pedals (otherwise I end up going backwards), tuck my elbows in and back, and lean down and forward,  as far out and low over the front wheel as I dare. The effect – I like to think – is that of the figurehead on the prow of a ship, only with more clothes. On a scale of ridiculousness it puts both clogs and tri-bars into the shade, but there’s no-one to see me do it except the cows and the sheep and they all think I’m mad anyway.

Coming back, of course, the wind was behind me and I was flying, my wheels barely touching the road. It’s worth battling the wind, sometimes, as long as you know it will still be there on the way home, pushing you on.

More foul weather to come, they say.

10 Responses to Cutty Sark

  1. GOM1 says:

    A lovely description.

    FWIW, there is an article on the bi-directional opposing headwind, and other cycling phenomena here –

  2. disgruntled says:

    Ah yes. Plenty of double-ramped hills around this way

  3. john says:

    lets hope the wind does not change direction on you. The other day I saw a lady riding along with two of them sort of bike trailers with two children on them behind her, it looked a bit hairy.
    regards John

  4. Dom says:

    Can you not get those doohickies that fit on the end of your handlebars and let you get all low, like old school racers used to have?

  5. disgruntled says:

    John – the wind at least is fairly reliable – always there and usually in the same direction
    Dom – possibly. The only time I ever used proper drop-handlebars I entirely predictably went straight over them the minute I put on my brakes. Never again..

  6. babymother says:

    Couldn’t you store the birdpoo on the rear mudguard instead and make room for whatever you need on the handlebars? Are you familiar with the plot of this:

  7. disgruntled says:

    No, but it looks brilliant.

    The bird poo is more of an accidental addition, courtesy of our baby swallows. I’d be happy to jettison it altogether, if I could get it off.

  8. midwifemuse says:

    I have this image of something which would be at home in ‘Cider with Rosie’, much coasting down hills.

  9. disgruntled says:

    Hmmm. but what goes down, must then get pedalled up, that’s the problem!

  10. […] was a wild one. I’ve dealt with headwinds before, but this was more than that, a twisting blustery wind that lay in wait behind hedges and […]

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