A Breeze

I wasn’t expecting to cycle at all this morning. I knew there was an amber weather alert for gales and high winds* and when we woke up this morning it was beyond grim out there: raining, blowing, visibility down to mere yards at time. But then something odd happened – the wind didn’t drop but the rain stopped and the sun even put in an appearance and I decided to seize the opportunity and nip down for the paper after all.

Well, I say ‘nip’, but with the wind being what it was, ‘battle’ might have been a better word, at least for the outward leg. Coming down to Nearest Village wasn’t too bad, although the road was running with water from all the rain and the tarmac was scattered with debris from the wind (it’s always a shame when we get late spring gales to see the fresh new leaves all shredded on the ground, and coming into the village I also saw the body of a fledgeling rook that had probably been tossed out of its nest). But it was as I left the relative shelter of the village and the road turned directly into the wind that it got interesting. There were a few moments when I did actually grind to a halt, despite pedalling with all my might, and others where the bike skittered sideways in a sudden gust of crosswind and it took all my luck to stay upright and out of the hedge. But even on the way out it was an exhilarating ride. Every overhead wire hummed with its own note as I passed and every tree was in movement, the forests roaring like the sea. With the clouds racing through the sky everything was patterned with fleeting sun and shadows and where the grass had been left to grow long for silage whole hillsides seemed to be alive, rippling like the play of muscles under an animal’s skin.

And then there was the ride back. I’d not put my GPS on the bike so I don’t know what speed I hit, but I’m pretty certain that some records may have been breached when the wind and the downhill sections coincided. There was definitely one point when I felt the wind take me like a boat before a storm and it’s probably fortunate that there wasn’t much else on the road around me because I’m not sure I could have either braked or steered around any sudden obstacle.

Cycling in Manchester over the weekend we were all struck by the ferocity of the headwinds which don’t so much blow there as ambush you round every corner. The Manchester cyclists we were with were united in their dislike of wind, which they considered far worse even than the rain. I’m sure if we had winds like this constantly, or if I had to get anywhere quickly and looking in any way shevelled, I’d probably go off the wind here too. But when it’s just occasionally and coincides with an otherwise sunny-ish day on empty roads, all I can say is it’s an absolute blast.

* I know the weather’s going to get interesting up here when my London friends start emailing me the forecast…

5 Responses to A Breeze

  1. Sarah says:

    Yep, tis a tad windy…

  2. Ragged Thread Cartographer says:

    Tree debris, gutters running, silage fields rippling, wires humming, cloud shadows racing, all the wind you brought into words so my heart actually beat faster ! Wonderful stuff. xx (PS Manchester cyclists disliking wind? They don’t know they’re born !)

  3. WOL says:

    That wind effect that so irritates your biking buddies in Manchester is true of any city with multistory buildings, especially “skyscrapers” — the tall buildings have a funneling effect, which also increases the velocity of the wind. If you are in the wind shadow of a building and you come from behind it out into the wind, it can nearly knock you down. It’s especially dangerous if it is raining or icy. Because it’s so flat here, we have a real problem with wind gusts. If the wind gusts get higher than 45 mph, the weather service will issue a wind advisory warning for drivers of “high profile” vehicles such as RVs, vans, motor homes (caravans) and what we call “semi’s” or “tractor-trailers” (I think “articulated lorries” is what you call them) advising drivers out on the highway to slow down and “exercise extreme caution” crossing overpasses because if they are going too fast and they get broadsided by a strong gust of wind, they don’t have enough road traction to keep them from being blown off the road or into the oncoming lane.

  4. disgruntled says:

    I think I’d definitely rather have our steady gales to Manchester’s (and other cities) sudden gusts – at least it’s more predictable. Although having said that we’ve just lost a lovely tree so I’m feeling a bit guilty now. More on that later

  5. […] grim if it puts its mind to it). But then, on the other hand, I cycle all through the year, through wind and ice and snow, and I wonder how many of the people who were planning on turning up on a Sunday […]

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