Author Topic: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country  (Read 878 times)

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Offline tanis

Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« on: March 31, 2014, 11:26:13 am »
Hi, I'm thinking about doing the southern tier cross country route this summer.

I heard that the wind generally goes from West to East but a friend who went cross country (Trans Am) said she experienced headwind the entire time while going West to East.

I want to start out in the East and go West from there.

Experiences with this? Resources?

Thanks

Offline staehpj1

Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 12:47:37 pm »
Just me, but here are my thoughts on that.  Note that I have done both the TA and the ST (as well as some other long tours) so I have some experience with them.  It still is just my opinion though.

I'm thinking about doing the southern tier cross country route this summer.
Consider how hot that will be.  I did the ST in February-March time frame and you couldn't pay me to do it in the Summer.  Personally I found the ST to have mostly underwhelming scenery and the only real pluses for that route are that it is flatter, shorter, and can be done in the winter.

I'd do the TA again or maybe the NT if I was going in the Summer.  The TA was hot enough!  In Summer the ST would not be on my list to even consider.

I heard that the wind generally goes from West to East but a friend who went cross country (Trans Am) said she experienced headwind the entire time while going West to East.

I want to start out in the East and go West from there.

I wouldn't make wind direction be a deciding factor.  On the TA, I'd start in the East and head west if starting early in the season and start in the west if starting later.  That way you avoid heat and humidity in the east and cold and snowed in passes in the west.  The ST I wouldn't do at all anytime other than the cool months of the year.

The TA is likely to have headwinds for west bounders in the summer due to winds out of the south east, since it crosses the plains in a NE/SE direction.

Here is a july wind map that may help:
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 12:53:36 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 04:31:00 pm »
Somebody once commented that there are no tailwinds when you're cycling.  Some days you have headwinds.  Other days you ride really strong.  ;)

If you want to look up monthly average winds for a number of locations, have a look at:
http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/climate/windrose.html
Be sure you read the cover page carefully and understand what the wind rose is telling you.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 05:14:11 pm »
You have headwinds the whole way no matter which way you go. Murphy's law.

You can ignore most of the "prevailing winds" wisdom from friends. Most of it has no scientific basis. In my two trips across the country, once in each direction, I had about an equal amount of headwinds and tailwinds. The only reason I know this is because I took a wind meter and measured twice a day. If I only had my gut to go on, I'd swear that I had a lot more headwinds than tailwinds. Headwinds are more memorable.

There are a very few places, however, where the winds are somewhat predictable. I think Wyoming is one. The Pacific Coast in the summer is another. But in most places, the winds vary a lot, and even if there is a slight pattern, the bias is slight (even though it might not be slight the day you are there). Furthermore, the bias changes from season to season. It's pretty common to have a headwind one day, a tailwind the next, and a headwind the next.

On my most recent cross-country ride, I thoroughly studied the wind rose data that Pat cited before I went. But I found that the actual winds I encountered bore little resemblance to the wind roses. The problem is that an individual cyclist's experiences is too small of a data set to be statistically significant.

I agree with Pete that any consideration of wind should be a minor factor in deciding which way to go.

Offline litespeed

Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 11:19:44 pm »
The preceding "prevailing winds in July" map gives you a pretty good picture of what winds to expect but any front rolling through will change the wind direction. For instance I once fought northerly winds going northward in the eastern US but it was a very rainy year. Also I once fought SE headwinds going all the way across Colorado and half of Kansas until a front came through and gave me a tailwind from Dodge City to Wichita then little wind at all after that. I have also had to lay over a day to wait out strong headwinds once while going westward in the Texas panhandle and once going northward in the Outer Banks. Sometimes you just have to hunker down for a day or two. On the other hand, there will be days and even weeks of bicycle touring where wind simply isn't even a factor.

Be sure to take advantage of a good tailwind. I remember a howling tailwind pushing me the 115 miles from Lordsburg NM to Las Cruces. I used my big chainring and arrived at the KOA in Las Cruces at 3:00PM. What a day!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 11:24:06 pm by litespeed »