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Yesterday I was riding with my brother and Bill and it was pretty windy.  Not really windy, just pretty windy.  It was probably less than 20mph, but not by much.  Bill was saying that he didn’t think that he’d done a ride in January with wind less than 15 and most of the time it was more.  I agreed.  He was sort of complaining about it.  He said he would appreciate a calm day that he could just go out and do a long ride and not have to fight the wind.

I told him I thought the wind was great.  I give the wind credit for the reason that many times, riders from around here beat up the competition pretty seriously at the regional races in early season.  There is no easy riding when the wind is blowing over 20 most of the time.

I’ve always liked the wind.  I’m not that big on straight tailwind (because of my lack of power), but I do like wind to help make the plan at the start of the ride.

Early season, I’m not big riding into straight headwind off the bat.  When it is super windy, we tend to try to do more crosswinds on the ride.  I’ll usually try to convince everyone that we generally head out against crosswind, slowly jogging into headwind every once in a while, thus storing up the potential tailwind for the ride home.   It doesn’t really do anyone any good by having to struggle into a 20 mph headwind, while the rest of us are sitting on going way too easy sitting on.

I’ve raced in some pretty windy places.  The windiest has to be in Southern New Zealand.  The Tour of Southland is a windy mess.  And by windy, I mean 50+ mph windy.  I did that race 3 or 4 times and it was always the same.  One year there, they stopped a stage at the top of a climb because the officials had deemed the descent too windy to race.  I wasn’t into that at the time, but now looking back upon it, that was a good decision.

Races in windy conditions interest me.  I like the dynamics of fighting for positions.  Riders with more experience will nearly always excel in these conditions.  I wrote a post about racing in New Zealand a few years ago.  It shows how being smart in big wind can work out well.  Here is a link.

Anyway, don’t let the wind scare you off when considering whether you’re going to be riding inside or outside this winter/spring.  And never skip a windy race.  Racing in the wind is the absolute best way to get good at racing in the wind.

Historically, it has been pretty windy racing in the Middle East.

Historically, it has been pretty windy racing in the Middle East. I think the beauty of cycling exposes itself with windy echelons.


13 thoughts on “Windy

  1. Joe C

    I always pretend it’s a hill, since it’s pretty flat here in west Texas. And it’s a mental thing for me; I have to go out with my mind made up, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be slow, turn into it and grind. And plan so it’s downhill on the way home.

  2. TreyH

    Training into the wind is why us flatlanders can still be respectable on long climbs in the mountains.

    1. Craig

      Andy Hampsten became one of the best climbers in the world by doing two things: riding highway overpasses and riding into the wind in a big gear.

  3. John H

    While living in Belgium, I always joked that Flanders wind was it’s hills. Hills are hard, but wind is demoralizing.

  4. mike crum

    steve, how could you have the power to ride into the wind, but you say you have no power with a tail wind? i read in a lot of your posts and you’re pretty good into the wind, which means you’re strong, so why do you say you lack power in a tail wind?

    1. Craig

      Into and against the wind differ in one way … pure power. With a huge tailwind your CdA matters much less as does mass so absolute power rules. Into the wind your aero profile and body mass matter more. Steve probably meant that he lacks the huge watts of a lot of guys even though his power-weight is pretty good as is his aero profile. One of the reasons crits tend to be dominated by huge guys who can hide from the wind when needed.

  5. James

    6-7 guys who can work a head/cross wind for 4 plus hrs is a dream. Unfortantly that seems near impossible in my neck of the woods. And no luck teaching newbs, cause they have their heads buried in the power meter & worried about the next segement.

    1. dave

      To hell with the damn power meters. Rid away all the distracting gadgets that just get riders minds twisted around. Concentrate on going hard and recovery/rest. Period .


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