Riding Into Headwinds

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by davidkthao, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. davidkthao

    davidkthao New Member

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    Okay, so here in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities, the wind speed will be at 22+ mph for the next few weeks or so and I also plan on doing my training. I would like to ask for some advice on how to ride head on into headwind without getting too tired, because I was barely able to maintain 16 mph on my road bike when I am normally around 20 - 22 mph.
     
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  2. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    I love riding into the wind. We get the Santa Ana winds here, 30-40 mph winds. I find it helps to find a comfortable gear that allows you spin at a high rpm and close red lining then back off half a step so you don't fatigue.

    You can't beat the wind so you try to work with it.

    I know a lot of riders that push hard with the tailwind then die on the return. Use some common sense and it will tell you to conserve some gas for the return into the wind.

    Some riders start their ride into the wind so that they have an easy return. I don't worry about that, I just do my ride and adjust accordingly.

    A little sample of our wind. :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFCJX4cUgqo
     
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  3. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

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    Yes, those are strong winds all right. I too need to learn how to work with winds. I did one ride of about 10 miles to our nearby Research Refuge. The winds were right in my face and it was tough. I bent my head and worked harder and got through it. Then the winds shifted a little and I had a headwind coming home, too, but not not as forceful a wind.

    I wonder if the time of the day has an influence on wind speeds and directions. Perhaps starting a ride in the late afternoon is better than starting one in the early morning on windy days? Or vice versa? I do not know, I lack the "weather sense".

    What sort of gears are optimal for getting through the wind? I imagine gearing would vary: a very fit person would find a different comfort zone of gears than a less fit person.

    Would having a personal weather station in one's yard help? That is, a real wind sock, a real anemoneter, and so on?

    Thanks a ton

    Bob
     
  4. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    Use your drops to get a little more aero. Shift onto the small ring in front, and use a gear combo that lets you spin a decent cadence. Ignore your computer speed readout. Wind slows everyone. Lightweight and heavyweight alike, and unlike hills, there's no down side until you turn. And while headwinds suck enough, crosswinds suck worse. There's still a headwind component in a crosswind, and then you have the added pleasure of gusts that threaten your bike control.
     
  5. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Avoid baggy clothing such as windbreakers. Wear base layers and regular cycling kit. Stay low and avoid the temptation to mash a large gear into a head wind. Spinning at a slightly higher than normal cadence helps to smooth out the effect of wind gusts.

    If you can, plan to ride into the headwinds at the beginning of the ride. Save the tailwind fun for the end. Or have a lot of course changes and treat the headwinds like intervals. Routes in sheltered areas, trees, hills, buildings etc. will reduce the effect of the wind.

    If you have one, you can use a power meter to ration your efforts. Headwinds are more tolerable when you can see that you are sill laying down decent power in spite of a slower speed; this will keep you from going too hard.
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Lots of good advice above.

    Finding that perfect gear that keeps your speed up AND allows you to comfortably get through the gusts is the key. Wind is a perfect condition to work on your position on the bike. Get on those drops and STAY there as long as you can. Gauge your output to remain in control of your effort and just keep laying down the power and cadence that will get you home without folding.

    Last Sunday's ride, the final part of the return leg was 32 miles, one after the other, into either a block 16-17 MPH headwind with gusts in the mid 20's (no Santa Ana, but it sucked none the less!) or with a hard cross-head wind when our route tacked us in that heading. I was forced to work harder and faster than I normally would have done that leg if I had been solo by my younger training partner.

    I just had to work the gears and make sure I was smooth and efficient. Upgrade or down, keep spinning and stay out of the red zone because recovery takes longer and the high output stretches are going to accumulate faster when going into it. This doesn't mean you can not stretch your muscles and even get out of the saddle and grind out a bigger gear to vary your muscle groups or cadence when the opportunity presents (wind dies, you find some shelter, the terrain works in your favor, the guy up front sits up to down a gel, etc.). By all means, I take every break from hunkering down low that I can.

    Like Mr. B said, you aren't going to beat a head wind, but you can learn to work into it with some intelligence and reap the fitness gains in doing so.
     
  7. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    The time of day does make a difference as far as wind. It does here anyway. The trail we frequent is known to have lighter winds in the earlier morning. That is a big reason why most riders start early, to avoid wind. In the afternoon the winds pick up. We usually get plenty of wind since we start at about 10:30 most weekend rides. I don;t worry about the wind though so it makes it nice as most of the trail is clear of traffic on the second half of our ride finishing at about 2 pm.

    I don't use a wind sock but I do look at a site called weatherspark. Although I don't pay much attention to wind speed since I'm riding anyway, there is an option to view wind speed by clicking on "graphs" at the upper right corner. I clicked on it for the image to show you as an example. ;)
     

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  8. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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  9. Bicycleman

    Bicycleman Well-Known Member

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    Getting into the small chainring is always an option, but if I'm in that ring, I'm not going very fast. If I want to go faster and ride stronger, I get into the big ring but downshift into the 19. I have a 12-21 cassette.

    There are those who say get down in your drops to become more aerodynamic. I don't like riding in the drops because I don't feel I have any control so I ride the hoods the whole time but lower my body into an aerodynamic position. One cyclist's way to ride into the wind is not necessarily the way you want to ride.

    Another way to ride fast into the wind or any place else is to do a pedaling style I call "ankling." When you ankle you move your feet at the ankle when you are pedaling so that it appears that your toes are facing downward as you are pedaling, but your feet are moving in circles at the ankle. It takes the strain off your thighs and allows you to spin faster and more efficiently. Often, though, my achilles tendon will start to ache. When that happens, I stop anklling and merely leave my ankles straight and pedal with my feet parallel on the pedals. After a while, I will go back to ankling.
     
  10. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Ankling went out of fashion in 1977. There's another term that was in vogue in 1972...along with "fartlek" and "souplesse".

    If you can't get on the drops or can't control the bike from down there you've either got a very bad back or a bicycle that does not fit.

    Of course, riding like Roger de Vlaeminck is always cool and in style.

    Low and oh so pro on those hoods and flats. Note bar rotation and lever position. Note elbow bend angle! Note expression of extreme horsepower output. Note the deep drop Cinelli's.

    [​IMG]

    If you've got the back for this shit, there's no reason you can't get on the drops and into the hooks. The hood ride will smooth out craptastic road surfaces a little while staying aero.

    [​IMG]

    On the flats? Still low and pro. Slide back and put those quads and calves to work. When they ache, go forward and put the hams to work. Man! I'll be wearing those leather shoes and slotted cleats on the trainer this afternoon.

    [​IMG]

    When men and bikes were made of steel!

    [​IMG]

    And even Roger had to get into the hooks when Eddy slammed it up a couple gears.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bicycleman

    Bicycleman Well-Known Member

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    I can ride the drops. I just don't like it. I used to ride the drops all the time when I had different handlebars with more curvature in. That way I had something to grip, whereas right now, I don't.

    Ankling may have gone out of style, but it helps me to go faster without the stress so much on my quads. When things really get tight, I bring in the quads as well.

    Since I ride country roads, the roads are fairly rough so maybe that's why I feel safer on the hoods.
     
  12. pwarbi

    pwarbi Well-Known Member

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    For me, I don't know if this is the same with everyone, but riding on the drops took me a long time to get used to and even now I tend to try and avoid it if I can.

    I can't even say why I find it awkward but I just do. Maybe it's my body positioning that I'm getting wrong but either way, headwind or no headwind I'll only use them as a very last resort.
     
  13. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    Funny but I use my small ring all the time. I rarely leave it on flats.

    I run the 39/14 combo which gives me 75.2 gear inch combo.
    If running a 53/19 combo, I'm running a 75.3.

    I checked 2 different gear ratio charts/sites.

    Not much difference.

    I'm running a standard crank so maybe you are running a compact?
     
  14. Bicycleman

    Bicycleman Well-Known Member

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    I'm running a 175 mm crank which affords me more leverage and the fact that I'm tall. I have tried all sizes from 170 mm to 172.5 mm and have always gone back to 175. That may be why I cannot spin as fast as others, but even though I have tried to spin the 39, I am much more comfortable spinning the 53 unless I get into a situation where the hills are just too steep.
     
  15. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    Ah. I'm 6'1 and use 175 on my Madone and a 172.5 on my Cannondale. I've never been able to tell much of a difference but then again I'm a slow rider so I don't push the big gears or use take advantage of the leverage very much. :p
     
  16. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    I'm 6' 1" and I spent decades on the road standard 170 MM. I went to 172.5 sometime around 2000. All my road bike daily drivers are 172.5 MM. Both lengths feel good to me.

    The track bike I just climbed off has 170 MM on it.

    The Tandem is going to be interesting...the captain's crank is Santana's standard 175 MM (the stoker' crank is Santana's standard 170 MM). I don't recall ever riding a 175 MM in 45 years of racing and training. I'm guessing it will slow my cadence a few RPM, but probably not enough to stop my wife from bitching that I'm turning the cranks too fast for her.

    Like I said...it will be interesting to try the longer crankarms. I don't think there can be a direct connection to a single from the tandem, but the generic, 'Does it feel right for me?", question might be answered and the extra leverage should theoretically come in handy hauling that 35 pounds of tandem up the hills...after my wife gets off to walk...

    Mr. B., I will probably be asking for tandem advice shortly. Marital advice I'll just toss to the open forum!
     
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  17. Bicycleman

    Bicycleman Well-Known Member

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    When I raced and did time trials and biathons, everybody I rode with, rode the big ring. It's the same, even today, with the exception of one lady, who rides her 39 and does remarkably well. I think it's the fact that our terrain is mostly flat. Even with the occasional rollers we encounter on our randonneur rides, mostly everybody just powers over these hills. Sure, I can downshift into the 39, but it stops my momentum, and I will end up getting dropped by everyone else, who just stands up in the pedals and goes on despite the steepness.
     
  18. Damien Lee

    Damien Lee Active Member

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    I'm not a huge fan of headwinds, but sometimes they do provide a fun challenge. However, I don't mind them during a day when it's sweltering just to cool down a bit. But we don't get very powerful winds here where I live, and the windy season only starts at the end of the August.
     
  19. ZXD22

    ZXD22 Member

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    Is it so much fun when the wind helps push you along, but riding against them is such a pain in the butt for me. I would usually duck my head and position my body in the most aerodynamic style and try to keep a steady pedal through the tough wind.
     
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