Ride like the wind

Being somewhat new to Wellington I’d heard all about the wind, but until I experienced my first Spring here last year it hadn’t really sunk it just how powerful it is.

After a mild and reasonably settled winter I’ve already forgotten how bad it can be – until Friday last week.

Glancing out my window at the light drizzle I headed for my default commuting option – my trusty Vitus.

It took me all of 2 seconds in the saddle to realise that the bike may not have been the safest choice. My usual breakneck speed down Hawker Street was forcibly reduced to half of the usual kilometres.

Marjoribanks Street was marginally safer, but as I pulled up to the Taranaki Street/Courtenay place intersection I was hit by the full force of sideways gusts and struggled to stay upright as I waited for a green light. All in all it was a wild ride, and not my usual pleasant commute. Given that I’m about to start riding further in the mornings, moving into the windy season worries me slightly.

Well seasoned Wellingtonians – what do you do to stay safe when the gales start blowing – any top tips for staying on top of the bike?

7 thoughts on “Ride like the wind

  1. Simon Kennett

    Anticipation is a good thing, and comes with experience. When you feel (or see or hear) a gust coming, bend your elbows and crouch down. A lower centre of gravity will make it harder for the wind to blow you over.

    And I’d recommend a wider set of handlebars. 560-580mm is pretty stable (with some bar-ends if you use that forward position a lot). Also, are those down-tube shifters I see? Better to have the shifters at your finger-tips so that you can shift gears mid-gust.


  2. Fiona M

    Pay attention to where the sideways gusts hit you, if you learn where you are likely to come across a strong side wind you will be better prepared to combat it, and you’ll learn which spots are best avoided.

    Direct head or tail winds are generally manageable but be super careful turning corners and entering intersections.

    Maybe if aesthetics rather than safety are your key concern you should look at other modes of transport on the very windy days?


  3. Discretion being the better part of valour, there are times when I decide its actually too dangerous to ride, especially as getting washed off my bike by big waves also becomes a possibility. There are also times when I get off and walk through danger zones. Coastal roads are something else, you can even get complete wind direction reversals over a few 10’s of metres as the wind swirls into bays, and huge gusts on corners. Fortunately I do have a good bus service as a fall back option.


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