“We’ve got a headwind, so you must have a tail wind”
This is a comment we regularly get from cyclists who are coming in the other direction, and in many cases, we hear it when we reckon we’ve been slogging into a headwind too. In most places, wind changes direction throughout the day, and due to topography, not to mention the road changing direction. Wind rarely helps the cyclist, unless it’s coming directly from the rear, or within 45degrees or so. If it comes from either the front or the sides, it slows you down. The only time I’m glad of a headwind is when it’s really hot, and so a cooling gust becomes a welcome break.
Another misunderstood fact about cycling is that cycling in hills is quite a bit slower than cycling on the flat. Many people reckon that you make up the time on the downhills but typically this is not the case. I was thinking about this the other day, getting back to my secondary school maths, which I’m ashamed to say, I quite enjoyed. So lets take a simple problem to show this:
Say we take a 20km stretch of road and we compare the time taken if it’s flat and if it’s hilly. I’m going to round the figures here to make it simple.
First, lets say that on the flat you do 20km/hr, then the section of road will take 1 hour to cycle.
Now lets put in a hill with a 10km uphill and 10km downhill. Then lets say you do 10km/hr on the uphill and 40km/hr on the downhill. That means it will take 1hour for the uphill and 1/4 hour for the downhill, making the total 1 1/4 hours in total. This is made even worse on on really steep hills, or on bumpy, unpaved roads as it’s more difficult to make up the time on the downhills.
Now that we’re on the subject of numbers, I may as well give you some of our stats that some readers have asked us to include:
Farthest cycled in a day: 212.km (Northern Desert, Peru)
Shortest cycled in a day: 60km (Near the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia)
Average cycled in a day: 110km (The Andes really slowed us down!)
Highest speed: 73.4km/hr (Peru)
Slowest speed: 4.7km/hr (Climbing in Bolivia)
Average speed: 21km/hr (Again, the Andes really slowed us down!)
Highest altitude on bike: 4500m (Bolivia)
Total distance since Ireland: 12900km
P.S. If anyone has any other questions or subjects you’d like us to include, pease ask in the comments box below, thanks!