Olympics: Cycling & the Weather | News
Heavy rain drenched the women's road cycling race Sunday along with strong winds. However, that didn’t keep the thousands of fans from coming out to support their athletes along the 87 mile course. Standing on the sidelines pales in comparison to what the riders themselves had to battle in order to maintain control of their bikes as they hovered across pools of rainwater.
"It was a fantastic atmosphere despite the rain,” said Simon Ashmore, who attended the women’s cycling race.
Weather dictates cycling. On everything from what they should wear, what they should eat/drink, what equipment to use, and what methods/maneuvers they should apply during the race.
Rain: Not only do your hands slip and slide on the bars, but your tires do the exact same. Road bikes normally do not have much tread on the tires, and they are thinner than standard tires as well. Which means not only is it hard to get traction on straight roads that are wet, but riders have to use extra caution when going around tight corners as well.
Temperature: Obviously this is a major factor in what the cyclists wear, but that’s not the only thing the cyclists need to consider. Very cold temperatures could lead to a thin coat of ice or slush on the street – not exactly ideal road conditions. If it’s too hot, the pavement could weaken or buckle, which creates dangerous segments of the road.
Wind: This is probably the most uncertain and tricky aspect of weather for cycling since it comes and goes so quickly, and can have relatively strong bursts. Why? When racers encounter a strong gust of wind, it is usually impossible to find a refuge from the bursts of wind, so often they will seek shelter from side winds by riding in echelons (a type of alignment, similar to the formation of geese, or airplanes staggered a certain distance behind from the airplane ahead). Also, just because you may be able to maneuver through the winds, doesn’t mean the rider in front of you will, and thanks to the domino effect, you could still get knocked down. In these conditions riders need to be very tactically aware not to get left behind.