CYCLING IN WIND
Q Can you give some tips on how to cycling in windy conditions please? If I see it’s breezy I stay indoors!
A It’s no coincidence that the flatlands of Europe have produced some of the strongest cyclists ever. There are no hills, but there’s an awful lot of wind!
Knowing how to deal with the wind is essential to not only improve your bike PB, but also to start the run with enough energy and to finish feeling strong. The following pointers will see you riding smoothly through the windiest courses, setting you up for the final race to the line…
With a strong head or tail wind, disc and deep-profile wheels can make a real difference but can also be a real handful in a sidewind. Try to get some pre-race information on what wind is expected and consider taking a couple of wheelsets.
Make sure all cables are neatly installed and keep your cockpit similarly clutter-free. Too many age-groupers go mad for oversized bento boxes; just look how clean a pro’s front end is. Store spare bottles, tubes and food behind your seat and out of the airstream.
Get your position sorted. It’s always a balancing act between aero gains and power loss, so it’s worth getting some professional input.
When riding into the wind, smooth is the order of the day. You’d shift down to climb a hill, so shift down into the wind.
Not fighting a big gear will help keep your upper body still, meaning you’re not having to punch as big a hole in the air. Try to keep your knees working slightly over your top tube. Be warned: ‘bandy-legged’ pedalling is an aero disgrace!
In a race situation, when speed is everything, sacrificing that bit of comfort for skin-tight aero slipperiness is well worth it. Ditch the billowing windproof. Instead, don a pair of arm warmers to take the edge off any chill.
If it’s a hot day, resist the temptation to unzip your jersey. Wind-tunnel research has put the time loss of having an unzipped jersey at almost a minute over 40km.
Prioritise wind-proofing your extremities and you’ll go a long way to keeping the rest of you warm. Windproof gloves, an under-helmet skull cap and overshoes are all essentials on cold, blustery days.
There are some excellent jerseys available with windproof fronts and fully breathable backs, as well as tights with windproof panels on the knees. Finally, whether racing or training, a quality pair of wrap-round glasses are a must-have to prevent streaming eyes.