myWindsock thoughts

Can the myWindsock app actually make you faster on a local Strava Segment than your wet thumb in the wind?

Full disclosure: Though not a weather nerd or over the top cycling data guy — I have a PWS (personal weather station) on my roof and I ride with a power meter. That said I do take into consideration the impact of weather on my novice 59 year old, seen it’s share of breakage, cycling body. Before I plan any outdoor ride I look at the general weather and wind forecast for the route. If the winds will be a fight I’ll plan around them, no hero here —excessive sun, rain, sleet, snow or approaching tropical storm etc.. I’m riding indoors. Banished to the dark depths are any thoughts I may have ever had of being the ruggedly conditioned outdoorsman type, I failed that chapter in my 20’s.

I’ve always dreamed of an accurate way to document the winds effect on my rides other than just incidental wind feel and power observations over the same course. There are definitely days when the wind seems to suck my average down, I’ve never known if it is truly a mechanical or physiological or psychological loss. 

So when I saw the myWindsock data on another Strava riders feed, my interest was immediately sparked, could someone actually provide some solid science behind the wind and the average cyclist? A quick look over their site said yes. For 30$ a year I would gain access to their app that would overlay wind and weather data from the pws network onto my rides. Even better the app can overlay historical environmental data for efforts from a Strava feed prior to subscribing. Another feature is your ability to look at the results of other riders results on the segment and provide an impact score of the weather during their effort. So if you ever wondered if some of the seemingly unobtainable times were set with 30mph tailwinds — now you can know.

The app has a wealth of features such as the following ai returned pitch:

The myWINDSOCK app offers a variety of features designed to enhance the cycling experience, particularly for those looking to optimize their performance in variable weather conditions. Here are some of the key features:

  1. Weather Impact Analysis: The app calculates how weather conditions affect your cycling times, offering insights like Wind Adjusted Time™ and Weather Impact™ metrics. This helps you understand how factors like wind and temperature have historically affected your rides.
  2. Aerodynamic Analysis: myWINDSOCK provides feedback on your aerodynamics (CdA) for every ride, helping you optimize your cycling position and equipment without needing additional hardware.
  3. Optimal Strategy Discovery: Using AI, the app analyzes weather and terrain data to suggest the best strategies for your rides, reducing doubt and indecision during events.
  4. Segment Optimization: For those targeting personal bests or competitive segment times, myWINDSOCK can alert you to optimal conditions for specific Strava segments, helping you decide the best times to attempt them based on weather forecasts.
  5. Historic Weather Conditions: You can view the weather conditions for past activities and Strava segments to put your efforts into context and see how weather has impacted your past performances.
  6. Real-Time Weather Forecasting: As you move, the app updates its weather forecasts, providing you with up-to-the-minute information about the conditions you’ll be riding into.
  7. Feels Like Elevation™: This feature converts headwind impact into a ‘feels like’ elevation, helping you gauge the effort required to overcome wind resistance as if it were a climb.

These features make myWINDSOCK particularly valuable for racers, club cyclists, and leisure riders who want to understand and improve their interaction with weather during rides​ (MyWindsock)​​ (MyWindsock)​​ (MyWindsock)​​(the5krunner • tri bike run)​.

For my purposes I’m happy with the most basic thing, was I slower or faster, in better or worse condition when my segment times were so dramatically different? This app will help put a little science behind my results and provide some insight to the accuracy of my own anecdotal observations regarding my perceived strength and energy, possibly validating my wet thumb. 

The test. After setting up my account less than a day passed when I received my first Strava Leaderboard Effort Weather Segment Alert from myWindsock. The alert predicted optimal conditions for crushing my personal best on a short Strava segment named Final flash in Allenhurst, NJ. The segment is .29mi with a small descent of 16′, a -1% grade and usually very little traffic.

In anticipation of the day I planned my schedule around myWindsocks recommended ride time. The Strava segment begins about 6 miles from my home, the weather was perfect with a strong tailwind as myWindsock predicted. I armed the GoPro to record the moment, feeling sufficiently warmed up I gave the short segment my all. The accompanying video illustrates my efforts and the data confirms my success.

The results… myWindsock gave me the weather advantage that yielded an average 15-18% gain in my time over this extraordinarily short segment. This placed my tired old self well inside the top ten.

Now after becoming a hero for 32 seconds (trust me, my effort could’nt have lasted any longer) my competitive self now wanted to see just how much aid the record holders of the segment had received from mother nature. Using the tools of myWindsock, I looked up the conditions present when the segment’s top riders made their efforts — sometimes there are realities you just don’t want to be faced with.

Strava Segment Final Flash Ocean Ave. Allenhurst, NJ

Basically, I was the only one who truly benefited from a strong tailwind, oh well the myWindsock data didn’t make me feel any better of a Rider. But it did in fact confirm just how many truly strong human beings there are out there riding bicycles.

As far as drag analysis goes, it seems a lot to say that you can extrapolate an accurate factor based upon wildly variable data obtained from a GPS drawn maps and wind, temperature and pressure variances based on PWSs. The myWindsock approach to testing equipment and position changes involves repeating the same loop forward and backward 5 times — preferably with no braking. Hmmm, not happening where I live. Their CdA number supplied with each ride is an interesting point of comparison, but certainly not wind tunnel comparable.

Using their “Where Power Matters Most” feature was enlightening. Accessed through the route planner it provides a chart showing you where additional effort is yields the greatest returns. For myself, the recommendations were often counterintuitive, but consistently provided improved results in time as well as lessened fatigue. Power on a lot of the climbs I thought should matter didn’t and additional power during some mild descents really did.

For the money myWindsock (30USD pyr) is a powerful tool, its greatest drawback though is that it relies on PWSs (personal weather stations) data. As a PWS owner I can anecdotally note that my station’s and the surrounding station’s data (within in a half mile radius) varies widely. The harsh reality is that wind and weather data gathered at varying distances, elevations and surroundings can only provide a broad picture of the impact on your ride. A road lined with buildings vs the same road lined by fields creates very different wind dynamics. One of the early lessons you learn as a pilot is that windsock on the field doesn’t necessarily bely the winds aloft — fly with care. In the end myWindsock is another great, great but imperfect method for ride analysis, coupled with your meters and monitors though it can put you even closer to the truth. Or for someone like myself it can provide small advantage and large (though temporary) ego boost. Enjoy your ride.

Some data…

My historic segment efforts
Segment Leaderbord
Average segment effort
myWindsock assisted effort
myWindsock assisted effort
myWindsock Where Power Matters Most

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