Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mistral, The Wisdom of an Old Adage and a Case for a Power Meter

There are several tenets of old school, Euro-centric cycling culture, one of which is to start your rides into the the wind.  The reasoning for doing that is pretty simple- you work harder going into the wind, then when you turn around you've got it at your back for your trip home. 

The concept is by no means absolute, but it is something I keep in mind when planning routes.  It's not always possible, but there's nothing more soul crushing than fighting a nasty headwind at the end of a long ride.  

Today was one of the windiest rides I've done in recent memory, and the Powertap really earned its keep by
keeping my self esteem intact while pushing into a brutal headwind.  At my normal 220 watt pace, I cruise along at 18-20 on flat-to-rolling terrain when the wind isn't a factor, but today I was grinding along the flats in the small ring struggling to go 14.  Fortunately I knew how hard I was working relative to my miserable forward progress, and I was able to visualize how blazing fast I'd be once I turned around.

You can see on this graph the power output is pretty consistent, but the speed is very low for the first half.  While there are some rolling hills the first 16 miles are basically flat so that's all due to wind resistance.  The section within the green lines is a little more rolling but also more sheltered and ran across the prevailing wind rather than straight into it.  The last section between the yellow lines is the last part where the wind was directly behind me.

The trade winds that blow through Toulon are called the Mistral.  I don't think there's a formal name for the "Duxbury Breeze" that I battled today, so in the spirit of misappropriating other cultures I'm going to call the westerly winds from Williston through the Route 2 corridor the Mistral.

Nobody here will know the difference.

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