Spring Wind in the Windy City

In Chicago much of the weather depends on the wind. In these photos you can see the sun, but you can’t see the WIND, which made the 50 degree temps pretty chilly. The 20 mph sustained wind was my friend this morning, pushing me all the way downtown. In the evening the wind was up to no good, but in fairness I had turned against her, not the other way around. Betty Foy was definitely the bicycle of choice today, as she’s much lighter and more aerodynamic than my Dutch bike.

Overall, a pretty good day. :) Chicago is the windy city, so I’ve come to terms with this extra challenge – a fair exchange for totally flat geometry. Does anyone else deal with such fierce wind as a daily variable?

p.s. Two lovely blogs are making me so happy with bike loveliness lately – Evoluer (how have I never discovered this site before?!) and Lulu Letty (a fave fashion blogger who recently acquired a vintage beauty). Definitely check out these happy places!

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25 thoughts on “Spring Wind in the Windy City

  1. chelsea Fuss says:

    i love your skirt!!

  2. Steve A says:

    I had just the opposite today – a tough headwind going in to work, but a GLORIOUS tailwind on the way home. The BAD days are when you get a headwind both ways due to a wind shift…

  3. Step-Through says:

    Atlanta is giving Chicago a run for its money today.

  4. Su Yin says:

    Wellington in New Zealand is also known as the Windy city in these parts. You can pedal and not be moving. Plus it gets pretty hilly in some parts

    Pity because you can’t beat Wellington on a good day!

  5. Amy says:

    I was just thinking today that I ought to ask you for thoughts on riding in wind. It’s been fairly windy here too for the last few days, and rainy on top of if. NO FUN. It’s a strange feeling when the headwind is strong enough that you have to pedal downhill. So, if you have any advice on riding in both wind AND rain at the same time, it would be much appreciated! :)

  6. Carolyn I. says:

    We seem to be getting a lot of winds also. It definitely makes things more challenging when you are biking towards a strong wind.

    Without the wind, even 13c (55f) seems quite warm in the sun (I am quite surprised), but you add the wind..and brrrrrrrr.

    At least I don’t need to wear my wool mitts anymore! ;)

    You sure know how to take excellent photographs..

  7. Dr Paul Martin says:

    Hi Dottie,

    Wonderful photography.

    I have a dutch bike which is a pedelec (Gazelle Innergy). If the wind (or the hill) gets too much for me I just turn on my little helper. I am fit but I ride my bike as a means of transport, not ‘sport’ like most here, so arriving without being a smelly mess is important! I still get a workout but it takes the edge off.

    We don’t have wind problems so much as hills here and it is here that the electric assist helps enormously. It also looks like a normal modern dutch bike – ie. fabulous!

    Regards from Australia!

    • David says:

      Good call on the e-bike Doc. My commute is 12.5 mi one way. I love excercise, and I run. But I’m not a tri-athelete by any stretch of the imagination, and don’t plan to be.

      I’m kind of thinking an e-bike might be a good thing for me, for times when my legs just don’t want to go, which is often.

      • Dr Paul Martin says:

        Hi David,

        The e-bike certainly helps. I still have to pedal, with or without assistance, but if I need some extra boost (hills, wind, humidity) I can turn it on. It really is fabulous.



        • Dr Paul Martin says:

          I should add that my commute (each way) is a 20km (12.5 miles) cycle with many hills and 15km train ride at the end. I can maintain a steady average speed of 22km/h (14mph) for the whole journey on my e-bike.



  8. tina says:

    San Francisco is a wind tunnel! we get in rain, sunny days, overcast days etc. usually we ride against it so it makes going uphill a greater challenge on these roads. usually i commute on my road bike so i lean forward on the handle bars, lowering my body to ease the push through the wind. it keeps me balanced and in control of my bike just in case the wind pushes me a little, after all i’m a very small girl. i’ve ridden with other cyclist and seen them lose balance by a push of wind and i find that it helps if we encourage one another through it. wind can be such a hassle but when you have others for support, it can be a blast!

  9. eva says:

    The wind along the SoCal coast can be brutal , especially when we get Santa Ana winds. We can’t even ride bikes at times because there is so much dust and debris in the air!The wind will also shift constantly depending on the temps of the air vs. water.

    You are a champ for heading against 20mph winds!


  10. alice says:

    I don’t have much to say about the wind as it is not a big problem here but I just wanted to say that you are taking such lovely pictures! Beautiful :)

  11. Deb says:

    I don’t know how our wind compares to Chicago’s, but we do get plenty of it. 20-30mph gusts are really common, though it’s been quite a bit calmer the past few weeks. I find the gusts are a bigger issue than sustained winds because they’re what make me feel like I might get knocked over or pushed into traffic, etc.

    Of course tail winds are fun! I feel so strong when I have a tail wind…mostly I seem to get headwinds coming and going.

    Someone else mentioned drop bars, and I have to agree – between the hills and the wind here, I use those drop bars like they’re going out of style.

  12. Doug says:

    I spent 15 years living in the Chicago area. I think it’s claim as the “Windy City” is misleading. There are many, many other cities that experience wind. My small city, Duluth MN, sits at the the head of Lake Superior. We routinely have winds coming off the big lake that gust over 40 mph. Whenever we get on the backside of a low pressure system (which is weekly during the fall and spring months) the wind exceeds anything I ever experienced in Chicago. I often fight the wind all the the way to work, going from west to east. Then have an incredible tailwind on the way home. Added onto the wind is hills. I have two miles of climbing on my 7 mile morning commute.

  13. Maria says:

    Your photos are gorgeous. I seriously love Chicago and need to take a trip out there this summer.

    I’m so glad you’ve liked my posts with Millicent.


    Lulu Letty

  14. E A says:

    love the photo of the bike lane. :-)

    wind in the winter is worst – br! windbreaker certainly helped minimize the chill on the ride home into the wind.

  15. Dave says:

    Portland has been unusually windy so far this Spring, with 20mph constant winds and gusts up to 60mph (not all the time, but for days at a time).

    I would go as far as to say that wind is worse than hills for riding. For whatever reason, at least here, it seems like it is never a tailwind, and riding for 30 min into heavy wind is really tiring if you don’t take it really easy. But then I often try to find excuses to ride more slowly anyway, so there you go :)

    About a week ago though, I was riding home from work and going up a hill downtown, and the wind actually accelerated me up the hill – that was *fun*! Only time that’s ever happened to me though :)

    Happy Wednesday!

  16. aparisiancyclist says:

    Hum, I fear Betty Foy is not more aerodynamic than the dutch bike; you ride on a lower position on the Betty Foy, and that explain (with the weight) you were easier in windy conditions.
    And to pursue in this direction, you have to take care of your back with the dutch bike, if you ride a lot with it (I mean 1 or 2 hours per day), as the too right position is elegant, but dangerous. Your back plays the role of a shock absorber on irregularities of the road (maybe 80% for the back, 20% for the arms). With a lower position, your arms will support more and your back will be less in demand. To achieve this, you just need to lower a bit your handlebars, but not to much, otherwise it will touch your knees while turning too much!…

  17. It is sometimes windy here in Boston, especially down by the water – but not that bad. There are quite a few hills though, especially on the outskirts. Certain trips I just do not enjoy making on my upright bicycles, because of the hills.

  18. David says:

    Wind is my least favorite part of biking. I would rather have cold, rain, ice, hills, etc.. But I hate wind. An upright stance when riding isn’t going to help. I recently lowered my handle bars a bit, distributing the weight across the bike more evenly. And I’ve notice a huge difference when riding in general. I like it. But I still hate gusty headwinds.

  19. katie says:

    Oh yes, I also hate wind, especially if I have to battle it while climbing up a hill. Not to mention its a bit disconcerting when I can feel the wind pushing me in the direction of the other cars. Plus, it doesn’t help that when it’s really windy, I have a lot of difficulty hearing cars that come up behind me. Still, I’m sure that you have to deal with much worse!

  20. donna says:

    Yes! Actually yesterday and today the wind was so strong I couldn’t get up the hill I have to ride up to get home. I had to walk it because the wind was just too strong. Toronto is both windy (at times) and hilly. Sometimes the wind makes me feel like it could knock me off my bike and I have a steel frame.

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