Part of my problem with the wind is my size. People in my bike club, even riders much faster than me, love to draft me on group rides, because I do such a great job of shielding them from the wind. That, of course, is what causes me big problems when I’m on my own. I’m just this human sail who finds himself slowing rapidly when I’m riding into the wind.
The problem was worse on the weekend ride, because I had miscalculated and picked a route into the wind that was at least twice as long as it would have been had I just retraced the route I took on the way out. It seemed like it would never end. Other riding-related maladies popped up as well. My bum started to pain me, and I was wearing my favorite pair of shorts. I started feeling some soreness in my lower back. It wasn’t a lot of fun.
I probably did everything wrong going into the headwind. I stayed on the hoods, for starters. Everything I’ve read says you get into the drops into a headwind, to make yourself smaller and more aerodynamic. And I committed the real non-no — I shifted into an easier gear. What you’re supposed to do is shift into a harder gear to force you to pedal harder and maintain your speed.
I even let the wind get the best of me, and stopped at the side of the road for a few minutes, to eat some fig bars and drink mass quantities of water. But mainly to rest. I always feels rejuvenated when starting off after a break, but in the wind Saturday, that feeling lasted maybe a minute.
As I got nearer to the end of the ride, I encountered some rollers again. But by this time, the wind was at my back and I could pedal up them without losing much momentum. Hills are a challenge for me. Wind is a chore, an adversary, a powerful foe.
Well, there’s only one way to deal with it. I have to tackle it head on. We’re having a particularly windy spring this year, and I’ll be looking for a stiff headwind on my upcoming rides. Maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll have the same attitude toward the wind as I do toward hills: tough, but doable.
Gina Smith says
I feel your pain. This past Saturday rode 64 miles most of it in 27mph headwings and crosswind. Suffering was given a new level but I finished.
Bike Noob says
Good prep work for your upcoming century, isn’t it?
The wind is your friend … and your worst enemy at times
“I committed the real non-no — I shifted into an easier gear. What you’re supposed to do is shift into a harder gear to force you to pedal harder and maintain your speed.”
I’m not sure this is the best advice for most of us… knees, quads, and the ability to ride in a straight line will suffer. With a multi-gear bike, I thought the proper technique is to downshift/upshift as necessary to attempt to maintain cadence as terrain and wind conditions vary, not to “maintain your speed.” Rebuttals welcome.
The way I ‘tackle’ them is to advoid them.
I always check wind speed & direction prior to rides and adjust my route accordingly. When winds are >10MPH we go for the crosswind route… winds south; take the east – west route, etc.
David Hood says
I wouldn’t mind the wind so much if it would blow consistently, but it seems to always blow around from different directions and at varying speeds. For example, if you are going to go through a 20 mph headwind, you should also get the 20 mph tailwind on the return. Never quite works that way for me it seems!
Ray Garza says
Bill, I agree with you. Downshift to maintain your cadence unless you want to take the opportunity to do some intervals into the wind. That’s what I do most of the time except when I’m pooped and just want to get home then I downshift and spin it.
Bike Noob says
I had a stiff SE wind on a 20-mile neighborhood ride today, so I took the opportunity to attack the headwind. I was pleased with the results. No knee or quad probs–this time. Kmock wood.
You rode in the same SE direction and battled the wind like the
1000+ riders 30+miles east of you! It was a tough wind that
I find it useful to spend training time in the drops
which i rarely use.
The wind can be treacherous. But they certainly are a conversation starter.