Sunday, 22 January 2017

Handle The Headwind

Riding into a hardcore headwind can be like trying haul your bike up a particularly tough climb with your brakes on. Not only will they quickly drain all the fun out of a ride, but also all the energy from your legs. So how do you beat the blustery stuff when you have to ride into it?

1. Prepare

Check the weather forecast before any ride to give yourself the best possible chance of understanding what you’re heading out into. It’s worth pre-planning your route, too. A training ride that takes in sheltered roads is going to prove a fair bit more enjoyable than one that predominantly takes place on exposed ones. Think about the timing of your ride, as well. Winds tend to be lightest earlier in the day although it’s not always a given.

2. Elegance Ride

When you’re cycling, you should look to spend as much of it as possible turning the pedals in as smooth and steady a cadence as you can. Elegance is the order of the day but it’s not just about looking good. It’s about efficiency of energy. Headwinds are similar to climbs in the respect that you’re required to put in greater effort. So it pays to drop down a gear to maintain a smooth, fluid, pedalling style. Yes, this will mean riding a little slower, but it’s worth remembering that just because you can’t see it that headwind still presents a significant obstacle.

3. Keep going

It sounds corny but staying positive is the key to overcoming any obstacle, whether that be on a bike or off of it, and headwinds are no exception. As you cycle into that headwind, too, remember the words of Winston Churchill: if you’re going through hell –keep going! By which we mean don’t stop and let the enormity of the task overwhelm you, instead break it down into small, achievable victories, whether it’s reaching the next lamppost, that parked car, or the weeping cyclist at the roadside who’s found it all too much. It’s not supposed to be easy, remember, it’s supposed to push you beyond your limits.

4. Share the workload

Riding in a group, or sitting on a wheel, saves approximately 20 to 30 per cent compared to the effort required to ride at the same speed when exposed to the elements. The bigger the group, the greater the advantage, as if you’re sharing the workload – as you should – you will have a longer break in the bunch after doing your turn on the front. Stay close to the rider in front, six inches to a foot off their wheel, in order to maximise the slipstream.

5. Get down

While bicycle manufacturers seek to eek every aerodynamic gain out of their latest, greatest machine, the rider remains approximately 80 per cent of the frontal area, so get low in the drops and tuck your elbows in to reduce exposure to the wind. If riding into an ever-present headwind then you may be there for a while so it pays to have your position dialled in. Ensure that your clothing is close-fitting. That will already be the case for most performance-minded cyclists, but make sure your jacket also has a slim fit to stop it billowing in the wind and effectively acting as a sail.

Bikes Etc 1/2017

Ride On!

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