Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Frontal Area, or, Why I Suck in the Wind

I went on another road ride today with Cory and Alex. It was brutally windy, the temps were right at freezing. I wasn't too worried about the cold (I got my cold weather gear pretty well dialed in this winter). I was a little worried about the wind, because I struggle in the wind.

We headed north and west out of town with the idea that we would ride into the wind as long as we could stand it, and then turn for home. We were barely out of town when we got stopped by a train.
I didn't notice the sweet graffiti in this shot until I got home.
This is Alex's nice looking Campy equipped Bianchi:
Out in the wind I was able to keep pace as long as I could stay latched onto one of their wheels. That lasted until I fell back a little on a hill. Once I was out in the wind the gap between us widened. Since we were doing an out and back to E-18, I wasn't too worried. I figured I would catch them on the way back.
Once we turned with the wind, the whole mood of the ride changed. It stopped being a deathmarch, and we went back to having fun.
I've been thinking about how the wind gives me trouble. As we were riding home with the sun at our back, I had a revelation!
Compared to Cory and Alex, I have quite a bit more frontal are to push into the wind. Notice the size of the shadows? My shadow appears to be 25% bigger. It takes a few extra watts to push all of that frontal area into a 25-30 mph wind.
Unlike my weight, there is not much I can do about my frame size. There are a few tweaks I can make to get a better aero position, but they would only be tweaks. And it really doesn't mean much in mountain biking.
The bottom line is that knowing this doesn't make me faster, but it does help me to better understand my weaknesses.


bontrag said...

I wouldn't have ridden if you wouldn't have posted, thanks Paul:)

Paul Varnum said...

I was glad you showed up. It's always better suffering in numbers. We plan on making it a regular Wednesday night thing.

the inebriationist said...

Check out the skinny calves on that yellow bike ridin' fool. It's a miracle he can push the pedals at all.

I'll second Alex. I would have stayed home. Thanks for being just that much more hardcore...or is it insane or committed? The lines are so blurry anymore. Some people seem normal...

bontrag said...

Sounds good. Another attempt at a Fixie/SS ride next week would be fun.