Cycling In the Wind: Beginner Basics

One of the most disappointing things you'll encounter in cycling is to be pumped up for a good ride, only to realize there is a 20 to 30 mph wind howling outside.

Cycling in the wind can potentially cut your speed in half with the same effort expended as when there is no wind. This means you have to work twice as hard for the same output. Don't get discouraged; there are some things you can do to help counteract the effects of a strong wind.

Get Low

Ride in a tucked position if you can do so comfortably. A tucked position will lower your wind resistance by keeping your body small so you can slice through the wind easier. This is where a road bike is far more efficient; using the drops, you can ride much lower. If you're riding a hybrid, you still want to get as low as you can.

Wear Tight Clothing

Wear clothing that is form fitting and keep your jersey zipped. If you wear a shirt or jacket that lets wind inside of it, it will act like a small parachute that gets dragged through the air. This tip will have an increasingly bigger effect the longer you ride.

Gear Down

Ride in a lower gear than normal. It might cost you some speed but you'll be able to keep your stamina up longer. Give up a little speed for endurance. Staying in a higher gear will overwork your legs and cause you to run out of energy sooner. Try to keep your cadence between 70 and 100 rpm.

Draft

If you are riding in a group, drafting is a very effective way to cut wind resistance. You can lower your energy expended by up to 20 percent by drafting properly. Check out the wind direction as you ride and draft to the side away from the wind and behind the other riders. Take turns drafting and share the workload so everyone can benefit.

Ride With the Wind

If you are riding alone, choose a route ion which you'll spend the least time riding directly into the wind. For example, if you live in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis, the wind generally blows from the north or the south. You'll want to choose a route that goes mostly east and west, with a long north/south leg that you can ride with the wind.

Cycling in the wind is never going to be easy or fun. The key to still being able to have a good ride is to follow these few tips.  The most important thing is to get out and ride whenever you can, with or without wind.

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Minneapolis Cycling Examiner Steven Pease lives in the suburbs of Minneapolis, one of the best cities in America to live if you enjoy cycling.

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