I just had a frankly terrifying ride home from Aldgate to Acton earlier.
It was all fine until I hit the A40 flyover, where I felt very unstable and exposed up there.
There was a bit of wind and it was around 5 degrees but I found myself slowing down from 40 down to 30, which if anything made it worse.
When a bus passed me on the outside lane I hit huge amounts of turbulence- loads of assholes cutting in front of me as if to say ‘hurry up’.
There was no way I was going any faster so I had to live with it.
I’ve done the A40 before (but before my tumble a few weeks ago) and it wasn’t that bad.
Is this just the conditions?
Or is it that I am on a relatively light bike (YBR125) with skinny tyres in those conditions?
When I slowed down I thought I felt the front forks loading a bit (or am I imagining this?).
Should I try to power through the wind?
I did think about trying that but decided that I wasn’t ready to ‘try anything’ I was basically concentrating on getting home in one piece.
So, brain trust- please help me out here.
What was I doing wrong, if anything?
Hogtrumpet - in high winds the natural reaction if you are nervous is to grip on tight and go rigid with fear. White knuckling it. The problem is that actually means that as the wind blows you around you act like a big sail and that makes the bike more unstable. That happens on any bike, but yes pretty horrible on a small light bike.
So, in high winds force yourself to be loose and relaxed. Let the wind buffet you and if you are relaxed, you will pass less of that buffeting to the bike. Once you are doing that and leaning the bike a little into the wind you should find you do better…
Ah, yes that is probably what I was doing.
I did try to relax but my mind was too busy screaming at me ‘DON’T YOU F*CKING CRASH!!!’ over and over.
Ok, well, maybe not quite like that, but fairly close.
I’ll try to be more chilled.
I guess it is something you learn as you go, rather than a case of being predisposed towards being stressed on a bike or not?
Pull stomach in to reduce frontal area…place your hands tight by your sides to prevent wind catching in your armpits and toppling you over…kick your boots off and place feet lightly on controls (controls are unnecessary anyway in these sorts of conditions)…cross yourself repeatedly…shut your eyes, nose and mouth to make your head more aerodynamic…
…or alternatively just slow down a bit until you get used to it - oh that’s what you did anyway! :)
The elevated section of the A40 used to terrify me too when I was on the scooter. It’s counter intuitive, but you have to RELAX! You are bigger and higher than your bike, so the wind pushes you about far more than it does your bike, you have to limit the amount of input that is transferred from you being buffeted into the bike.
hunch your shoulders, drop your elbows, and loosen that grip, be conscious of releasing it down to about a 4 out of 10, nice and gentle.
when the gusts come, you can shrug most of it off without the bike careering all over the carriage way, if you have to steer to counteract the effect of the wind then counter steer into the gust.
Your head will get the gust first so try not to be too tense in your neck, then your head will act like a little early warning system.
Give heavy good vehicles a much wiser berth than you normally would too, they can play havoc with you on a windy day. Pass them decisively and be ready for that gust as you get passed the front.
if you want to ride in England you better get used to high winds.
ride on high revs try to match the speed of the wind in open spacesBEWARE OF LARGE VEHICLES as they will blow you towards them as they pass byhold on tightunderstand which direction the wind is blowing (last night was particularly dangerous as it was gusting randomly out of a sudden)check weather forecast. if the wind arrow is more than 20, leave bike at home.
Today I went via the Mall and Kensington Road.
It did take me a bit longer- but it was a nice ride and I get to practice low speed hustling.
I’ll give it another go soon, probably in decent light and lowish wind.
Ride exceptionally loose, bro! I remember riding back from Bruges on a BMW F800ST with the missus and luggage in crosswinds for miles on the E40. I was still a fairly new rider and this was my first big bike. My death grip on the bars was the cause of absolutely all my problems. Watch twist of the wrist 2 for a scientific explanation of how to ride. Its a track bias vid, but really a key piece of training material.