Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Heavy Air...

Most of us who ride are familiar with, and have probably experienced the sensation of dragging an anchor. It is an especially apt metaphor for certain days when we set out and turn the cranks. Likely none of us have ever actually trailed a big chunk of iron or steel along in our wake, but there are days when it sure seems as though we are. For me, at least, not every poor day is an anchor dragging day; there is a particular feeling associated with it. The mind is willing, but the body isn't kind of thing - the brain tells the legs to go faster, but they just won't do it. They are on strike. Though the image is metaphorical, it feels like you are literally dragging an anchor.

Well, there is another situation which I for years have considered to be a real manifestation of a physical condition in the environment. I call it heavy air. 

Have you ever ridden out the door on one of those grey mornings when the fog lays thickly over the land? Not the kind of fog that floats well above the ground coating the sky with a gloom, only to burn away after a couple hours. No, I am talking about the fog that smothers like a blanket, turns nearby stands of trees into ghostly shadows, collects in little droplets across the lenses of your glasses and obscures your vision. I notice on days like these, when the air is heavy, that it seems to take just a little more effort to turn the cranks round. Living inland, these deep fog days are relatively rare and it seems like they are always accompanied by the need to push just that little bit harder. Anyone else notice this?

I don't think this is a mental game, searching for excuses for a poor day. Yesterday was a heavy air day, and I rode well, I felt good - it just took more effort. There is some precedent for the idea of heavy air - in places that are regularly humid, you hear talk of the air being heavy with humidity. Fog is a manifestation of increased humidity. So, for you scientists out there, can air be heavier from one day to the next? Can it actually be heavy enough that it would take noticeably more effort to move through? I am guessing yes. If I were able to scientifically measure the air on a foggy day and compare it to the air of a clear day, the increased moisture in the air, the extra water molecules would result in increased friction and require more effort to move through. But without special equipment would it really be noticeable? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I am no scientist. But I do notice that a soft fog is conducive to leisurely rides. Whereas a sharp, biting fog--if I go out in it, I'm riding hard, if for no other reason than to keep my legs warm.

    Overcast? That's nothing but workout weather!


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