I have never liked the wind in any facet of my life. In sports, the wind only does you any good if it is at your back. In golf, I won’t even discuss the havoc the wind does to a golf ball. Even golf pros won’t practice in the wind as it changes their swing plane.
As an attorney, my former partner never placed documents back into the the file hole punched, so every time I put the file on the trunk of my car, all the paperwork flew away. After a while, I realized that my bitching didn’t correct his behavior, so I just stopped chasing the documents down the street.
Wind knocks down trees, power lines, dirties my clean pool, and women hate it just as much because of their hair. As a matter of fact, the only thing I hate more than riding in the rain is riding in the wind.
Rain is consistent, the wind is not. I can see the rain coming while the wind is a sneaky SOB. Sometimes you are riding and a strong headwind hits you and it feels as you are about to be picked up and thrown backward off your bike.
The wind will cause your head to move more than a bobble-head doll in a wind tunnel. When leaving Spearfish, South Dakota in 2012 after spending a week in Sturgis, the wind was as strong as I ever rode in. The wind was a constant 25 mph, however, the gusts of wind were coming in at 35 mph. Once I hit the Badlands, the real party started.
The wind bitch-slapped me that day. I was riding from west to east and the wind was going north to south. Over time, the wind has eroded the Badlands and the result is a picturesque landscape of gorges, buttes, spires and pinnacles in an array of colors with purple, yellow, tan, gray, red and orange. Needless to say, the intensity of the wind increased that day while riding through this rugged terrain. It’s called the Badlands for a reason.
When you are riding through a wind that is consistently 25 mph, you have things somewhat under control, but when that sneaky wind increases from one moment to the next by 20 mph, you are caught by surprise to say the least. The ride got so rough, that I found it difficult to breathe. The wind was rushing into my left nostril so hard that I couldn’t breathe and had to start breathing through my mouth. Eventually I pulled over and told my buddy I need something to cover my face with.
The wind no doubt causes you to work harder. You will get tired much sooner into your ride. I was less than an hour into the ride and I was already tired physically and mentally, but, it’s not like we had a choice. We were almost two days behind on our return trip home since my friend’s bike broke down and with nowhere to stop, we kept riding.
My friend was behind me and he told me it was funny to see my bike traveling in a straight line but leaned over to the left. I kept looking at him through my mirror and like me, the bike was going from left to right and right to left repeatedly inside the lane. As difficult and annoying as this was, all was well, until I came across an idiot that didn’t know how to ride in the wind.
Since the wind was coming from the left, we hugged the left side of the lane so when the wind hit us hard, we had the entire lane to be pushed to the right. If you ride the right side of the lane and the wind knocks you over a few feet, off the road you go.
Up ahead a group of bikers were coming from the opposite direction. They were traveling east to west, thus, the wind came from their right hand side. I noticed a yellow Honda Goldwing motorcycle bordering the left side of the lane. This is a two lane road and I wondered why is he on the left side of the lane when his group is correctly on the right?
Sure enough, as we got closer to each other, a big gust of wind pushed him into my lane. Remember, I am riding the left side of the lane. To avoid a head-on collision even though there was plenty of space between us, I moved to the right side of the lane because this rider already proved to me he was a moron. Lucky me, as I did that, I hit a spot where the wind was not being blocked by a butte and the wind kept pushing me to the right. The harder I tried to go left, the more my bike was tossed to the right. It’s not easy fighting against 45 mph wind gusts.
I started to straddle the sold white line on the far right side of the lane. I had a few feet of asphalt left before I would either go off-roading, hit a ditch or worse. It was only seconds before I crossed the solid white line and was now inches from gravel and grass or a drop off. My mind was flooded with thousands of different thoughts but my thoughts were blown away just as easy as a tissue paper in the Badlands.
My eyes kept darting to the right and I thought if anything, I’ll downshift to first gear and ride down the slope that was all grass. I might even be able to ride out of the v-shaped ditch without dropping the bike. If I dropped the bike, it would be in first gear so I should be fine. I was more worried about the bike, like most bikers, because I wanted to make sure nothing would get bent or broken and end the ride since we were in the middle of nowhere. But, before I gave in, I decided to give it one more shot.
I leaned hard to my left. Little by little I started making up ground. I crossed the white line, then hit the center of the lane, then the left side of the lane. Once I felt in control again, I pulled over. I told my friend I needed a much needed break. The picture in this post was taken moments afterwards. I was exhausted.
To this day when I ride in strong winds, I think back to that day and wonder why did this guy ride on the wrong side of the lane? Had I gone down, he wouldn’t have even noticed.
Always err on the side of the lane that gives you the most space. Back then, I lack the experience that I have now. Not so much because I have ridden more, but because I have trained more including riding handlebar-to-handle bar with strong winds blowing.
Today, as hard as that wind blew, I would have given it throttle and cut through the wind, but that day, I kept slowing down and that only made it more difficult to handle the wind.
In 16 days I head off for my cross-country ride. I will once again ride through the Badlands on my way home. I look forward to it and if just so happens to be windy again, no sweat.
Ride like the wind.