Riding in the Wind

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Dealing with wind is a part of bike riding out on the open road. Like most things, learning how to ride the wind is a skill that must be practiced if you want to do it well. Wind can add extra fatigue in many ways if you’re unprepared for it. You need to understand how to handle the wind and the impact it will have on your execution. For athletes who train on the trainer a lot, it’s wise to get out on the road when you can.

Winds can come as gusts, tailwinds, direct head winds or crosswinds. You can gauge how strong they are or what direction they are coming from by looking at things like flags, tree tops and sometimes even the grass if the wind is very strong.

Watt distribution, RPM and HR will be different than when no wind is present. It’s always best to work hard where the race is hard and when speed is high to go on rhythm. When there are a lot of changes in wind and terrain it’s purely a skill to know what gear to be in. Keep shifting to get the best possible speed for what’s being put in front of you.

In tough wind getting under it and leaning into it as it hits you makes it feel more stable. Think of it like when you see someone running at you and you know you don’t want to get knocked over by them; you get low and lean in.

It’s a mistake, but a natural instinct is to sit upright and become stiff in your arms, or maybe even stop pedaling. Reacting this way will make you more unstable and set you up like a kite! Get low, pedal into it and lean into the ground and against the wind.

  • Tail wind – Move to as big a gear as you can manage to maintain high speed and race RPM. Watts and HR are typically lower.
  • Cross wind – Lean into and under it. Although RPM may be higher, it should feel the same as a threshold big gear session.
  • Head wind – Work the gears to keep speed as best possible. RPM will depend on how steady and strong the wind is. You might sit at or even above threshold for periods into hard head wind.

If you know you’ll be facing high winds it’s best to have a very shallow front wheel for better handling of your bike. The deeper the front wheel the harder it is to handle in winds.

Get out there and practice! It might be unsettling at first but if you practice and learn how to handle the wind you’ll be ready for anything come race day.

CycleMarilyn Chychota