How to ride hills in a long course triathlon is a common topic, but most triathletes know very little about how to strategically tackle a long-course triathlon on a windy day. And if you've every experienced cross-winds or gust over 20 mph, you know that dealing with these conditions can be every bit as challenging as tackling a course littered with monster climbs.
Since you can't plan training rides to deal with windy conditions like you can hills, you'll need a good plan to have success on race day. Here's some guidance to help you when the wind decides to show up at your next big event.
#1: Do Your Homework
Do research to determine if the bike course is known for being windy, and find out from what direction the wind typically blows. You can usually find this information with a few Google searches for race reports.
Be sure to check out the bike course map too and see if you'll be riding in one direction for a long time. This is important because you could experience the effects of wind in one direction for a long time without receiving the benefits of the wind like you might on an out-and-back course.
#2: Ignore the Wind
How you should pace your effort on a windy bike course is simple: Ignore the wind and ride your race. Follow these tips to deal with different wind directions:
Headwind: Don't increase your effort into a headwind. The reason is because, unlike a hill, which will eventually end, you can't predict how long you'll be riding into a headwind. So if your plan is to dial up your effort into a headwind but the wind lasts for 5, 10, 15 or 45 minutes, you can mess up your game plan. Conserve your energy and base your pace off of your planned heart rate instead of your speed.
Tailwind: Don't decrease your effort with a tailwind. The reason for this is that your natural tendency when riding with a tailwind is to back off our effort. If your plan is ease up and rest with a tailwind, you'll be giving up a lot of easy speed. It's better to maintain a consistent effort and rely on your heart rate to guide you.