Depending on how you view it, wind can either build you into a stronger cyclist or break you down if you’re unprepared to face it. Next time the wind blows, keep your cool by following a few simple guidelines.
Change your attitude. If you instantly feel defeated by a slap of wind to the face, chances are your riding will reflect this same glum attitude. Accept that your average speed will be lower than usual. Try to view each gust as a challenge, rather than a setback. Take control and visualize yourself cutting through the wind with the bullet-like speed of a time trialist.
Mix it up. Have you ever ridden your favorite bike route backwards? Check which way the wind is blowing and change course in order to transform a headwind into a tailwind. If possible, ride into the wind early on and when you’re tired, let a tailwind push you home. Choose a route that’s insulated by buildings and trees.
Enlist in the draft. If you’re riding with a group, try to situate yourself in the middle of the pack, so you’re as protected from the wind as possible. Drafting another rider can save up to 30 percent of your energy. Pay attention to which way the wind is blowing and shift so that the rider in front of you is blocking most of it. Unless you’re feeling up for a challenge, let the stronger riders do the work on the front.
How low can you go? Reduce wind resistance by riding in a tucked position. Use the drops if you have them to time trial your way through the wind. Keep your back as straight as possible and your head low. But don’t blow yourself up trying to maintain a certain speed. You may have to gear down to preserve energy. Think twice before wearing a baggy rain jacket and opt for a tight fitting jersey and spandex shorts instead. As the pros have proven in wind tunnels, even the smallest changes can have an impact.
Get stronger. Hills and wind have one thing in common: They push cyclists to their limits. Whether you’re grinding uphill or grunting through a headwind, you’re forcing your body to adapt to a hard interval. All this work boosts fitness and forces the body to grow stronger. Read our blog Bicycle Hill Climbing Tips to ease your pain when climbing heavy hills.