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It should not be surprising that it is difficult to ride in a straight line with both hands off the handlebars when there is a crosswind.

However, I find it most unintuitive, that for example if there is a crosswind from the left, if I let go of the bars and try to keep my body upright, the bike wants to turn sharply to the left (into the wind). To counter this, I have to lean my body to the right, as if wanting to turn right.

I would have thought that the wind pushes me to the right and I have to steer left to keep going straight. Why is this not the case?

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  • Which way is the road sloping? Could be if you ride on the left side, there's enough downslope to turn your wheel into the wind. – Criggie Sep 19 '18 at 3:59
  • @Criggie Fair point. It's not visibly sloped. But the effect does not exist on the same road if there is no wind. Also, for the record, I am very certain that the wind came from the left, because after the road makes a 90 degree turn to the right, it was a tailwind. – mkrieger1 Sep 19 '18 at 7:51
  • When you say, you need to lean right, you mean that you look at the right side of your bike from above? Well, if that's the case, the bike itself is leaning left. – cmaster Sep 19 '18 at 12:33
  • @cmaster That's right. – mkrieger1 Sep 19 '18 at 12:43
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If the wind is from the left, you need to lean to the left to stop the wind blowing you over to the right; leaning left makes you turn left.

  • That's what I had thought, but is the opposite of what I observed. – mkrieger1 Sep 19 '18 at 7:52
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    @mkrieger1 Your question says your observation is that a wind from the left makes you turn left. You said this was counter to your intuition and you asked for an explantion. I just gave you the explanation. – David Richerby Sep 19 '18 at 9:14
  • Ah, sorry, I misunderstood what you wrote! (The misunderstanding was that there are two different needs to lean: lean left to avoid falling over, but lean right to avoid going left) – mkrieger1 Sep 19 '18 at 10:15
  • But I still don't quite understand why it's not as follows: I let go of the bars; wind pushes me to the right and I start to fall over to the right; I lean left to go straight again and to not fall over. – mkrieger1 Sep 19 '18 at 11:28
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    @mkrieger1 I've edited to clarify (I hope!). And if you're cycling in a cross-wind, you're already leaning into the wind before you let go of the bars. – David Richerby Sep 19 '18 at 11:30

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