Anyone who got out on their bike this weekend had plenty of wind to deal with. On Sunday’s outing Ken said the conditions reminded him of what we confronted on a trip to the Canadian Rockies in 2012. Diane and I were on the tandem that day, and the wind blew a constant 35 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph. Yesterday was difficult and irritating, but the Canadian conditions bordered on dangerous.
Here is Stoker’s account of what happened from her trip journal:
Tuesday, July 24
The wind was the same, or worse. The first 12 miles were the reverse of yesterdays “death ride”, so it was a tailwind, and wonderful. But then we turned and it became a crosswind that threated to dump us. Rich couldn’t control the bike, so we flagged down the van in Babb , MT, and sagged for the rest of the day, 38 miles. We could barely hold the bike up to load it in the van; it almost went down, pulling us with it.
Stoker writes that I “couldn’t control the bike”, but she is understating what happened. We made the left turn, pedaled about 100 feet, and then got hit by a wind gust from the left that blew the CoMotion off of the road and into the gravel parking lot of a café. I unclipped my left foot and stopped the bike and somehow managed to hold it upright while Stoker got unclipped. And we stood there, straddling the top tube and fighting to keep the hurricane from blowing us over.
Fortunately the sag van was right behind us (maybe the tour leader knew we would need help) and we put the tandem in the trailer and hopped into the van to sag the rest of the day.
All the guides and several of the guests tried to reassure me that the wind was terrible and would have been impossible on a tandem, and that we were doing the safe and sane thing. I appreciated this, but I was still disappointed, and even worse, I began to doubt my ability to ride the bike at all. I cannot describe what it felt like to get hit by that wind blast and be blown off of the road, and while there was no damage done since we were able to stay upright, we could easily have crashed.
Compared to that day, this weekend’s wind was a gentle breeze.