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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In researching parts for my BikeE recumbent, I ran across two links to someone called the 'Freewayblogger,' who came up with a fun way to take advantage of a tailwind: sails! His are made from a lawn chair and plastic signs plus a few other bits. They mount to a BikeE brand recumbent's upright seat back and fold flattish when not in use.

The author initially took his creation to Nebraska during the wind season and set out to tour literally whichever direction the wind was blowing. This unusual routing methodology paid off in its own way: 850mi in 8 days on a fully loaded recumbent! I like but am intimidated by the random nature of the routing.

The method is limited by a variety of more and less obvious factors. The thing is, we have a decent Spring wind corridor nearby in the form of the Cherry Creek Trail, which runs some 40mi from the town of Franktown north to downtown Denver. Recumbents are allowed on the local light rail trains, making for a built-in way to cheat the wind for an easy trip home at the end of the ride.

Better, or worse depending on how you look at it, I live just a couple of hours' drive from Cheyenne, WY on the I-80 wind corridor. For those who don't know, I-80 through WY is crazy windy, with sustained winds frequently exceeding 30mph. I drive the corridor somewhat frequently in the course of visiting family in the YNP area and have literally lost count of the number of times I've seen the highway's dedicated signs warning of sustained wind speeds in excess of 50mph.

These winds have complicated my interest in making the trip from CO to YNP by bike.

Similarly, Spring in NM is generally known as the wind season. If the wind speeds are lower than on the I-80 corridor, they still make for miserable cycling. Unless...馃く馃槏. I like the idea of turning that fierce obstacle into an ally, if a capricious one.

I have read about roadies who do this type of cycling in a more limited fashion, but the idea of attaching actual sails and letting the wind choose your destination over a multi-day tour is taking it to the next level. Set out with supplies, a credit card, and a good offline road map. Also a map overlay with the locations of rental car offices :cool:. Ride until the wind wanes, or interest does. Rent a car or hop a bus/train, cheat the wind for the trip home.

I might have to actually try this, at least for day tours. My BikeE recumbent has been down for some time with broken seat clamp bits. I think I have a source to replace the broken bits. If that pans out, I am liking the idea of experimenting with it as a 'wind bike'

What do you think?

FWIW, I found the links in the course of a search for parts and know nothing about the blog or its other subject matter beyond the two 'tails of' links above. The sail thing has captured my imagination.
 

Old, fat, and slow
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Well .... since you would be "land-sailing," you would need to learn how to sail .... I doubt the wind would Always be directly behind you (the only time the wind is always is direct is when it is a headwind, it seems) so you would need to learn how to adjust for that ... and have the necessary machinery ,.... plus you might need to learn how to tack, or else a 50-mph headwind would mean walking across the frigid prairie .....

So long as you could rotate the sail significantly, and the wind was mostly behind you .... and I know some of those roads out there are ruler-street, pan-flat, and map-grid-oriented .... so if the wind is willing, the idea isn't ridiculous ... I'd suggest a Lot of testing, because the juncture of the mast and the bike .... 100+ pounds of bike and gear, 150+ rider, fifty mph winds ......
 

Deranged Touring Cyclist
Joined
6,189 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well .... since you would be "land-sailing," you would need to learn how to sail .... I doubt the wind would Always be directly behind you (the only time the wind is always is direct is when it is a headwind, it seems) so you would need to learn how to adjust for that ... and have the necessary machinery ,.... plus you might need to learn how to tack, or else a 50-mph headwind would mean walking across the frigid prairie .....

So long as you could rotate the sail significantly, and the wind was mostly behind you .... and I know some of those roads out there are ruler-street, pan-flat, and map-grid-oriented .... so if the wind is willing, the idea isn't ridiculous ... I'd suggest a Lot of testing, because the juncture of the mast and the bike .... 100+ pounds of bike and gear, 150+ rider, fifty mph winds ......
Your observations are spot-on, were I proposing to actually attempt land-sailing. That definitely requires a mast and some cool rigging work, to say nothing of, shall we say, flexible roads, to work out. Perhaps on a salt flat. This is more along the lines of light fold-out panels intended to take advantage of 'mostly tailwind' situations. Not nautical level sails of any sort.

Of course a 'mostly tailwind' situation sounds foolishly optimistic, unless you consider that many Western states including the Great Plains include a wind season, along with enough road options to at least appear to offer the chance of a 'somewhat tailwind' through more miles than not. Especially when we're talking about letting the wind direction determine one's route. With love, we're not talking FL here: distances and roads out here are different. As are wind fetch zones. Planning remains critical, but I think there are possibilities.

The 40mi route on the Cherry Creek Trail I mentioned in the OP is one I used to ride regularly before we moved a few years ago. There are times of the year when it's worth making the one-way ride with a light rail return simply for the tailwind. If the analogy is to remain nautical, think a square-rigged vessel vs. more advanced rigging able to take full advantage of the wind from whichever direction it blows. The latter is great on water. The former is all I'm talking about, except the fold-out panels are so much simpler as to risk blowing the analogy. Good for tailwinds, maybe a bit of off-axis action, but that's all.

Testing is a must and, if you're me, a given. Nevertheless, thank you for raising the need. You're [email protected] right. I'm not trying to sail on land, but the idea of using fold-out 'sails,' to enhance a seasonably loosely predictable tailwind is compelling. Running with the wind only, no return 'tacking' needed: that's what the light rail, a rental car, or willing spouse with car, is for. There are times of year when the wind really makes cycling rough. I love the idea of using technology to make those times more fun than crappy.
 

Old, fat, and slow
Joined
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Okay, thanks for the clarification .... I think I understand better. I could picture a couple of boxlike devices on a crossbar across the handlebars or something ..... my only riding out west has been MTB, but I have seen those long, straight, flat roads that go one forever .... if you caught a good wind I guess it could be fun.

I have a great wife, but she is not "a willing spouse with a car" .... i cannot imagine that. But you specified light rail return ....

This might be an interesting thread.

If I am ever crossing Arizona and see a wind-powered multi-trailer bicycle train cruising down the roadside I will know the name of the dog in the passenger seat.
 
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