At some point everyone ends up cycling in the wind, against their better judgement. Whether it’s a stiff breeze or something a little more uninviting, there are ways to make the experience more bearable.
Getting out of bed, you look out of your window. Good; it’s a beautiful day and there’s plenty of cycling to be done. So, forgetting to note the trees bent sideways by a howling gale, on go the bib-shorts, over goes the jersey and you set about gathering the various necessaries for every successful bike ride.
Then you step outside and it hits you. No, not metaphorically; the wind literally hits you and it’s then you realise that today is going to be difficult. An uphill struggle. Because if there’s one thing every cyclist hates more than any other type of weather, it’s wind.
But how bad can it be? At least 50% of the ride is going to be with the wind at your tail, right? Wrong. That’s not how wind works; wind swirls and moves this way and that and usually ends up – or so it feels – blowing directly into your face. Going on a point-to-point cycle, headwind all the way? Prepare for things to get difficult.
You’re never going to beat the wind – don’t be silly. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself, so you may as well try:
- Wear those glasses. Cycling glasses aren’t made for sun. Sure, they keep the sun out of your eyes, but who cares? They keep the wind out – and the bugs that it brings – and keep you from crying, not because your eyes are watering, but because it’s already so hard that adding eye-distress becomes the straw the breaks the cyclist’s back.
- Don’t cycle from A to B. Doing a loop of an area in the wind is depressing enough, even though you’re bound to have it blowing in your favour at some point. Cycling into the wind for a whole ride? You’re not going to enjoy that one bit. Serious HTFU points though… Especially if your ride is over 100 miles.
- Be a mountain goat. If you’re small there’s less of you for the wind to catch. It’ll still be difficult, but not quite as difficult. Obviously, you don’t have that much say over how large your bulk is, so if you are big – like me – drop down and try to be as aero as possible.
- Ride in a Group. Probably the most effective way of negating the drag produced by a headwind is to cycle in a group, using those in front and to the side of you for protection. Obviously, do your fair share at the front if appropriate, but it’ll make your ride more efficient and pleasant. Beware of cross winds though, you don’t want to take any one out…
- Don’t avoid it. The best way of making the best of every situation over time is to get used to it; to make peace with it. Shake hands with the wind, accept that it’s your enemy and attack it accordingly. If in doubt, just think of it as resistance training.
At the end of the day, cycling in the wind is inevitable; so you’d better learn to live with it. Though it should be noted that this guidance in no way encourages the use of a bike in a hurricane, or similar. After a certain point, it’s much safer just to stay in bed.