A Windy Bike Trip


The weather forecast yesterday was uncertain. Throughout the week the details kept changing. The night before it was 63 degrees with a high of 64 forecast. When I got up in the morning it was already 64 degrees with a high of 74 forecast. Rain had been in the forecast all week leading up to yesterday, but by noon the rain was out of the forecast, and a slight overcast with wind was all that was left. It seemed a good day to get in a bike ride.

The wind was just starting to get strong as I headed out. By the time I was over to Chouteau Trafficway headed south, it was a constant swirl. I had to bike hard to go downhill to the river, and then to cross the river via the bridge, that was generally downhill.

The south side of the river is flat for quite a ways, which made a perfect wind plain to blow sideways against the bicycle as I tried to cross it and circle around the end of the foothills ahead of me.

My destination was the flat roads and railyards that snake along the Blue River, with the shadow of I-435 looming ahead of them. When I got down there, the same winds were sweeping back and forth. No matter which way I turned it seem there was a headwind as I wended south. Finally reaching the stop signs on Manchester Trafficway just below I-70, which was my turnaround point.

Then for the first time I experienced a tailwind. Very odd. It seems that any other time, any other day, that I had fought a headwind anywhere, when I turned around it was still a headwind on my way back. But this time it wasn’t.

But I almost wished it had been. Just like at that moment I wished that it had rained. Because the tailwind was also a whirlwind that created a dust-dervish of fine sand and gravel that blew up under my t-shirt and scoured my entire torso with its grit.

It also gave me the (true) sensation of accelerating uphill. But it wasn’t wind, nor downhill or uphill grade that gave me my best speed. I was actually in the eye of the dervish, with no appreciable wind and a slope that was uncertainly up or down when my speed jumped from around 24 to the 30s. With that unexpected burst of speed I added my effort to watch it climb through the thirties, but not quite break 40, ending with a speed of 39.2 mph. That is the highest speed I have ever recorded.

The 30s lasted for less than a mile, before my speed dropped into the 20s, with tailwinds returning to assist.

That stretch was short enough before I turned west back into the railyards, and instantly had tailwinds again. Tailwinds both ways through the railyards, and around the end of the foothills until I was crossing the riverflat again.

This time as I approached the river flat it almost looked like it was raining, a lowering sky, limited visibility, but it was actually the dustbowl dervish whisking across the flat. The crosswind was so strong that I was constantly in danger of being whisked off the edge of the road.

But once across the flat and climbing up the bridge, the tailwind came into effect, and speeds climbed back to the 20s again, only to drop in a headwind on the north side of the river.

The trip was one of extremes: almost peaking at 40 mphs and then having times when I couldn’t bike faster than 6 mph into a headwind.


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