Cycling is at the mercy of weather conditions. Based on my observations, while most riders check for rainfall, many overlook the importance of understanding wind direction and strength.
Neglecting these elements can turn a pleasant ride into a challenging ordeal, affecting your performance and safety.
Battling the Invisible Force
Imagine setting out on a ride only to be caught off-guard by strong headwinds or crosswinds.
These conditions can make pedaling feel like a Herculean task, drain your energy faster, and even pose a risk of accidents, especially with sudden gusts. Without proper preparation, the wind can become an invisible foe that diminishes the joy of your ride.
Plan with the Wind in Mind
Here’s what I do before every ride.
- Check wind conditions. Before heading out, use weather apps or websites to check the wind direction and strength. This knowledge is crucial for route planning and setting realistic expectations for your ride.
- Plan your route accordingly. Choose routes that minimize exposure to strong headwinds or dangerous crosswinds. Sometimes, riding into the wind at the start (when you’re fresh) and having it at your back on the way home can make for a more enjoyable ride.
- Adjust your riding strategy. In strong winds, adopt a more aerodynamic position, reduce your speed to maintain control, and be prepared for sudden gusts.
- Collaborate with other mamils. If riding in a group, take turns at the front to share the workload of cutting through the wind. This teamwork makes riding in tough conditions more manageable.
One of my favorite weather apps is Epic Ride Weather, which is widely used by professional cycling teams today. It syncs your routes in Strava, Ride With GPS, Komoot, etc, and overlays the weather forecast. You select a start time, and Epic Ride Weather forecasts the weather for the duration of your ride based on your selected pace.
How cool is that?
Being mindful of wind conditions and planning accordingly can transform your cycling experience. It prepares you to face nature’s challenges head-on and enjoy the ride, no matter how the wind blows.
Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.
He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.