Monday, 8 October 2012

Cape Town Bicycle Commuter: Planning for wind in Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the world's best destinations for sailing, because it has strong, consistent wind. Great for boats with sails, perhaps not always for people on two wheels.

But, if you are able to read the wind direction and plan your bicycle commuting routes, you can use the wind to your advantage.

Summer = South Easters

Summer in Cape Town -  the wind will most probably be blowing in a South Easterly direction. It usually picks up strength as the day heads towards afternoon, but don't count on that as gospel truth. South East means that the wind will be coming from the False Bay side of the city and blowing strongly towards Blouberg.

Routes to ride during a South Easter:

Cape Town CBD / West Coast: If you are heading to the West Coast from the city and it's blowing South East, you'll be heading into a headwind until just after Woodstock MyCiti Station. There you'll turn left on the cycle track and have the most unbelievable downwind dash all the way home. Expect to arrive at the Dolphin Beach hotel in just 20 mins. The harder it blows the better.
False Bay / Southern Suburbs / Cape Town CBD: If you're heading from the south towards the city, you'll do the trip in half the time when it's blowing South East. Stick to a route heading in a northerly direction and you're laughing.
Atlantic Seaboard: If it is blowing a true South East the Atlantic Seaboard is sheltered from the mayhem by the mountain. So while the rest of the city loses their dignity, it's just a perfect summer's day on the Atlantic side of things for a quiet ride via the Sea Point Promenade. Just be sure to stick between Three Anchor Bay and Clifton.
Newlands / Kirstenbosch / Newlands: Also in a wind shadow is the Newlands-area leading up to Kirstenbosch. So if you live in Hiddingh and work at Kirstenbosch, you're also loving life.

Winter = North Westers

Winter time is brought on by the North Westerly winds that blow from the West Coast side of the city towards the South. The wind is often in partnership with lots of rain so if you're heading out in these conditions be sure to take along gear for wet weather.

Routes to ride when it blows North West:

West Coast / Cape Town CBD: Take the fast route by riding downwind on the West Coast cycle route to the city and then opt for the sneaky option home by taking the bus back in the afternoon.
Cape Town CBD / Southern Suburbs / False Bay: Okay so you're getting the idea that the wind blowing the opposite direction gives you the reverse options of when it blows SE. Nice one Shurlock. So yeah, if it's blowing NW, you're happy to take a few drops of rain and cruise back to R'Bosch.
Cape Town CBD / Vredehoek: Winter should signal the ideal time for everyone in Vredehoek to get on their bikes at the end of the day and cycle home. You've got a massive hill to help you get to work in the morning with a bit of a headwind and more help than Lance Armstrong had in all 7 Tour de France victories to get back home later on. Winter is your special time!

Wind is a reality in Cape Town, planning is key. If you have a long journey ahead of you that involves a strong headwind, jump on the train or a bus and then cruise the trip back home later.

For accurate wind direction predictions and strength - check out Windguru [Cape Town]

Previously: Cycling to work: 5 Tips on how to get there with less sweat