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"