That's a William Henry Jackson photograph of some of the sandstone formations near Perry Park. Perry Park is the forgotten sister of the grand rock gardens of the Front Range, overshadowed by rock-n-roll Red Rocks, glamorous Garden of the Gods, even remote Roxborough. The '59ers found the land among the towering rocks of Perry Park to be problematic for farming and ranching. It wasn't too long, however, before the central portion was developed as an early real estate scheme, with parcels arrayed around a lake formed by a dam on Bear Creek. It's a beautiful scene even today.

Riding up 105 toward Perry Park not too long ago, on the first leg of one of my insufferable history rides, I had a very nice little tailwind pushing me along. I progressed at a good clip and every car that passed did so very smoothly and easily even though there isn't much if any shoulder along there and the road is moderately busy. The ride was a joy. On the way back, into the wind, the whole tone of the ride changed. Not only was I struggling more to maintain the pace, there was noticeably more stress involved in my interactions with passing drivers. The passes seemed closer; I had to spend a lot more energy keeping tabs on what was coming, and there was a general tension involved with the whole affair. That's when I realized some things about bicycling and wind that I had never grasped before.

In reality the passes I experienced on the second leg into the wind were just like those I experienced with the tailwind -- the cars' dispositions were the same in both directions. Throwing a headwind into the mix messes up the program in a variety of ways. Of course there is the matter of extra physical (and perhaps emotional) exertion, which could make everything in your ife at that time, including other road users, a little bit more difficult to deal with. But that could not account for the obvious difference in the headwind versus tailwind passes. I think the primary difference was in the wind's dramatic effect on my hearing. With the wind at one's back, anything which happens back there that makes a noise can be heard clearly. The sound of approaching same-direction vehicles can be detected when they are still thirty or forty seconds away in some cases. As the car gets closer, the tailwind allows you to hear it decelerating, or not, to prepare for the pass. You can even detect its lateral position before it goes by. With tailwinds, there are no surprises. Tailwinds are the tell-all book of the year.

Headwinds keep their secrets to themselves. They are very tight-lipped, preferring to keep the whole world in suspense. A stiff Colorado Front Range headwind will ruin your ability to hear much of anything at all, other than the roar of wind. This can add an unwelcome element of surprise to your dealings with other vehicles. This means extra workload for the vigilant cyclist. That's in addition to wind's other features which, although well-known, could not be said to be well-loved.

Well, that's it. Just a little something that I recently figured out after three decades of riding into the wind.

 

LISTENING TO TAILWINDS pt. 1

VISIT MY NEW  'DIGITAL NOTEBOOK' OF COLORADO HISTORY.