bike75.gif (2872 bytes)


  Last updated: xxxxxxxxx

Riding into a Headwind

A headwind will significantly increase your pedaling effort and affect your cycling performance (particularly if you are riding at competitive speeds). Why? The relationship between your effective air speed (ground speed plus head wind speed) and the resistance to pedaling (energy needs to overcome this resistance) is an exponential one. This means that doubling your air speed will MORE THAN double the Calories expended per mile traveled.(This graph visually demonstrates that relationship.) And the graph also shows us that adding a 5 mile per hour headwind to a ground speed of 20 miles per hour has a much greater affect on you total energy requirements per mile than if you are riding at a recreational pace of 10 mph.

Are there any secrets to dealing with a headwind? A good attitude is probably the best. You can't do anything about it till the road turns, so welcome the wind as an aid to becoming a better rider. Think of it as a form of hill climbing (at slower speeds, each 5 mph of wind speed equals ~1% of grade i.e. a 20-mph headwind would equal a 4% hill). Then it becomes a challenge rather than something to hate for part of your ride. Here are several other ideas:

Are there any drills to improve your riding in windy conditions? If you have hills, doing hill work comes the closest. As an alternative, you can find a gear that lets you pedal easily at 80 to 100 rpm, and then shift 2 to 3 cogs harder for 15 to 20 minutes - a simulated hill interval. Then recover for 10 minutes and do it again. And of course focus on keeping your head still, which is a challenge as you slow the rpms and start to use your body to compensate.

Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

Cycling Performance Tips
Home | Table of Contents | Local Services/Information