Thursday, 3 September 2009

Battling against the wind this morning made me think: can you attach a sail to a bike?

Good grief. Talk about struggling against the elements. My whole journey along the Regent's Canal this morning was far more like sailing than cycling. Sometimes you feel like you're barely moving, such is the intensity of the opposing wind. But it doesn't stop there. Even on the big roads you get sudden gusts which threaten to push you out into traffic. And for some reason, if you're travelling East to West in London, which I do in the morning, you're always going into the wind. I did actually read somewhere that in England the "posh" bits of cities tend to be in the West and the "poor" bits in the East, as the rich don't like the idea of the smell from the poor parts being carried by the prodominantly Westerly wind to them.

Anyway, I got to thinking - what if you actually could make biking a bit more like sailing and harness some of the wind? Clearly ludicrous for London commuting, but perhaps out in the open?

Clearly the main thing about sailing is that you use the wind to tack and you have to go diagonally when you have an opposing wind - and that wouldn't work on a bike as you'd never get from A to B. But who knows - if you had a prevailing wind, could you winch up a sail for a few minutes to help you along?

Needless to say many have got there before me - and a quick search on the net reveals some pretty funny drawings and photos, including this one from Grant McClaren who built his own sail-bike:

More details can be found on his site here:

I also like this one from a site called "Patently Silly" which seems to find amusing patents which will never come to fruition:

and here's that link:

And finally there's a nice entry in a book which I'd never heard of before called "700 Things for Boys to do"

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