Unbelievable wind today – a curse and a blessing.
Before we started out, I knew we were going to spend some time on Interstate 8. These are the places going through the mountains where there were no alternate routes – and so bicycles are allowed on I-8 in these places.
Before the trip, I definitely had some anxiety about these route segments. However, yesterday we rode about 5 miles on the interstate and it was fine. There is a wide shoulder that is clean, cars were aware and most of the time moved to lane furthest from the shoulder when passing us. In fact, in many ways I felt safer than riding the local highways around my house where cars are passing within 3 feet of me at 50+ mph.
Today though, it was different. As the day started, there were wind gale warnings along the route that peaked in the late afternoon to early evening. But when we started, we were already having gusts up to 25-30 miles per hour. After a 5-mile climb from our overnight location, we hit I-8 and started a 10 mile 3,000 foot descent. The speed was fantastic, but the wind was totally unpredictable. On numerous occasions we were hit by abrupt cross-winds that were wicked. The faster I was descending, the more terrifying the cross-wind hits were. The only way to control it was to slow down by constantly feathering the breaks – being careful not to overheat them – and keep a reasonable speed.
Once we completed the descent though – the wind kept up but was a tail-wind of 25 to 30 mph. For the next 30 miles of flat, open road, we could FLY! No scary cross-winds, few other vehicles – it was probably the fastest I’ve ever ridden 30 miles on a flat. Definitely something to remember.
This picture is at our first SAG stop about 10 miles after descending out of the mountains.
I look like a puffed-out penguin because I’m literally wearing every single layer of riding clothing I brought along to try to stay warm during the high-speed descent down 3,000 feet of the mountains, which you can see in the distance in the above picture.
This video gives a sense of the wind we encountered today.