:THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN SERIES: click here to see more from the series
A few days ago this video came across my radar. It is a man drafting behind a semi truck at 55 mph. That is right, on a bike, keeping up with a truck on the highway at 55 mph! It is insane to watch how the bicyclist hardly has to work to stay in the draft behind the truck. That is the power of wind, and with the tornadoes and hurricanes that have devastated the United States in the last handful of years it is a force that we often underestimate.
After watching the video of the biker, it got me thinking. How does this all work? A video below explains the basics of drafting or sometimes called “slip streaming.” Essentially, the idea is that two objects together can experience less drag than one by itself. However, in the case of this biker behind the giant truck, he is actually getting caught in the vacuum so the difference in size actually allows him to ride faster than he could alone on the highway. Put more simply, the air creates a sort of vortex that actually gives the biker a bit of extra oomph. Science aside, this guy has some true cojones of steel. I wonder if he could end up with a ticket for following too closely?
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As a bonus, while searching for some videos about slipstreaming, below is another video of a team flying a research plane into the eye of a hurricane. It is worth a watch to see the peaceful vortex that a hurricane creates in the eye of the storm, much like the calm created behind the truck for the biker. I don’t know if the biker or these pilots are more crazy.
Curious about how hurricanes work? Here’s a brief look at the anatomy of these giant weather events: