Thursday, October 8, 2009

Windy Bike Safety Tips + Video from the Natural Energy Lab

This photo shows the windiest spots in Hawaii, the blue is a 7 on 1-7 scale.

At Ironman Hawaii, you need to learn how to handle severe crosswinds (sometimes referred to as a Wind Shear, a microscale meteorological phenomenon occurring over a very small distance). They are dangerous, and scary. A wind burst from your right or left can make you lose control of your bike. On the road to Hawi, with 20,30,40 mph + winds in your face, or on the return trip - you might feel bursts of crosswinds. There are a few things you can do to increase your safety if the winds are blowing this year. Here is a short video... and you can scroll past the video for 7 important safety tips...

1. Keep your fingers wrapped around your aero bards if you are aero. This is a good idea at most times, and the goal here is to make sure your hand is actually "holding" the bars, not merely resting on it.
2. Don't go aero. When you need to respond to crazy crosswinds, you will need to hold on to your handle bars tightly - it's more difficult to respond to a sudden wind burst when you are aero.
3. Lean forward and down to reduce your profile.
4. During gusts, your bike will NOT travel in a straight line, if your bike is blown off course with a gust and the result of that movement is EXACTLY the same as any other minor course
change – you will need modest counter-steer to correct it.
5. Anticipating wind shear is especially important under a couple of scenarios during the race, a) when approaching or being approached by bikers, b) when riding near any cars or motorcycles that are on the course, as they pass they can reduce the wind then allow a wind burst when they are farther away.
6. Also, remember, that there are TWO times when a gusty crosswind changes your bike’s direction of travel: when it hits, and when it stops. Each of these moments will require quick action and control on your bike.
7. Remember, the wind is not necessarily the most dangerous part, it's the other cyclists who are on the course and how they react to it when you are nearby that are dangerous.

Safe Riding!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Mitch - great advice, even for the rest of us who aren't on the Big Island. Wish I had learned this the easy before I did the hard way last weekend. Ah, but as in the words of Keanu Reeves in "The Replacements:" Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.