Thursday, August 12, 2010
It's Frigging Science: Too Hot? Ride Faster.
With a similar sweaty eye stinging heat wave sweeping the nation, almost four years ago to the day, I wrote a post about cycling wind chill and discovered that you can feel a teeshy tish cooler, if you ride faster. Against all the recommendations from meteorologists and health departments, with a heat index of nearly full-on Africa hot, I went out for a ride. For the record I did not die. In fact, I felt cooler. Not a whole lot, but on a scale of Sudan to South Africa, I felt Southern Congo. Here's a revisit of that "It's so hot my hands are slipping off the bars" post.
Four years ago when zippin’ down Kellogg Ave (now Riverside), a slightly downhill road along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, at 27mph, I couldn’t help but notice I felt cooler than when I was climbing a hill at 10mph into Eden Park. Does wind chill apply in warm weather too?
These are the thoughts that go through your head when riding by yourself. If my memory would serve me better on bike rides, I'd have retired like a Jet Blue flight attendant a long time ago having acted on one of my brilliant bike ride induced million dollar ideas. These thoughts are precisely what makes cycling such a great escape…and precisely why your co-workers think you’re a kook for wearing spandex.
So, when I got back from my ride, I did a little Internet research on this phenom-enom-enom-enah. Some weather websites said their wind chill factor calculator couldn’t be used if it was over 40 or 50 degrees. Huh? But, I felt cooler flying on my bike in 90-degree weather at 27mph. The dog doesn't stick his head out the window to catch bugs. Surely there must be a wind chill effect while cycling…a cycling wind chill.
So, I dug a little deeper, expanded my search, and wah freakin’ lah, I found a Wind Chill Calculator that did accept temperatures over 50 degrees. (insert evil laugh here) Here’s the link:
So, I started plugging in numbers. And, for the most part, it seemed to work. That is, until I plugged in 100 degrees. Over 100 the calculations came back saying it would feel even hotter riding at 10-30 mph. No way Al Roker.
But, maybe not. Maybe there’s a temperature where no matter how fast you're riding, your body just can’t dissipate the heat any faster and thus the wind chill effect wouldn’t be in effect. Yo! The cycling wind chill is not in effect.
Here are the results of the numbers I plugged in.
Temp Bike Speed Cycling Wind Chill
100 30 104
100 20 102
100 10 100
90 30 87
90 20 87
90 10 89
80 30 73
80 20 75
80 10 77
It seems like to enjoy a noticeable cycling wind chill, the speed needs to be over 20mph and the heat preferably south of 90 degrees. However, there are other ways to feel cool on a ride, like using white bar tape, having only one gear and keeping your sunglasses on the outside of your helmet straps. If you can't do that, think of the other things that can impact on how cool you feel when you ride like: wearing a black plastic trash bag instead of white lycra or a shaded bike path along a river, as opposed to climbing with a 50 pound huffy up exposed blacktop. Experience has proven to me on a mountain bike it feels hotter wearing a sasquatch outfit when riding in a field of tall grass as compared to riding naked in a shaded forest.