How to ride into a headwind

A headwind need not sabotage your Strava score if you know how to handle it...

Headwinds can feel like riding uphill when they strike, but there are ways to minimise the effects of the resistance experienced when riding on the road — or indeed make the most of them.

Here are four tips to help you handle headwinds.

1. Work with the wind

“If the headwind occurs during a training ride, on a long flat stretch riders should increase their cadence to keep the pace high,” says former One Pro Cycling rider Yanto Barker, ambassador for cycle clothing brand Le Col.

Doing this means the headwind won’t stop you in your tracks when it hits. Also riding in a big gear can make it easier to power on pushing through it. “Where possible ride on the drops, get your back flat and tuck in low to the bar.”

2. Find your spot

“In a race, hide yourself near the front behind the first two rows of riders ahead of you,” says Barker. “If your team isn’t leading the pack, get yourself in the back and take advantage of the other teams’ work.

If you’re part of a leading group take short turns to lead — keep rotating positions as staying too long at the front will become too tiring.”

3. Beware, wind changes

As the course takes its turns or the wind changes direction you need to keep your wits about you.

Maintain your focus on the road but be aware of crosswinds as you change direction, especially on winding routes. “As you pass by gaps in the trees or hedgerows the wind can cut across your path,” warns Barker. Taking shelter within your group can counter this.

4. Use it, don’t lose it

Riding into a strong headwind when you’re training can actually have some advantages. “It’s often like doing a hill climb ride without a hill, it demands increased effort and can add variety to your training,” says Barker.

If you are aware of some strong winds forecast for one of your training days, investigate a route that offers the challenge of a headwind on your way out and a speed-improving tailwind on your way back.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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