I thought I had imagined it at first. Cycling along the Seacoast Road one day, I pedaled against a strong headwind. On the return trip along the same road not long after, I found myself struggling against a headwind again. How could this be? In this land, where sadistically steep hills, heavily textured road surfaces and other resistance-producing phenomena were so commonplace, was I not at least entitled to a return tailwind in accordance with the laws of physics?
Possibly I was mistaken in remembering there had been a headwind in the original direction. Yes, that must have been it, I decided. But several days later, the same thing happened again along this route - a route which, as "luck" would have it, had by now become a regular commute. I paid attention this time. Setting off late morning: headwind. Heading back early afternoon: headwind! Time after time, it was the same.
Just as I began to question my sanity, one day I heard some local pilots talking about a flight they were planning. And one of them mentioned off-handedly that the wind would be changing direction mid-day. My ears perked up.
"Wait, wait a minute. What did you say?"
"Oh sure. We get a sea breeze by the Lough Foyle here. Changes direction around 2pm."
"Sea breeze," eh? Well there's a euphemism if I ever heard one, considering how strong this wind can get. How lucky for me to get the headwind end of it. But at least I know I was not imagining it. And, decades from now, I'll be able to say to a room full of bored youngsters: "Back in the day, I rode my bike with headwinds in both directions."