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This has been a really windy spring. I’ve received emails from California to Virginia asking how to deal with it.

Wind moves as if alive. It swirls, changes velocity, changes direction, wraps around and over objects, moves debris, and howls endlessly in your ears. Wind can be a good thing when it’s at your back and horrible when it’s on your nose. Wind in unpredictable and seems to have an element of sentience as it changes  direction, at will, simply to remain in your face.

How do we deal with it?

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1. Mental fortitude and physical toughness. Keep in mind why you ride. Maintaining focus and mental discipline in the wind is a great way to train yourself to doing just that. Each time you accomplish a ride and the winds beat you up, you are a stronger rider.
2. Bike handling. Sometimes the wind is so strong that it makes cycling unsafe. You need to know your limits. However, in most cases we can go out into some pretty strong winds and ride safely. Learning how to correct your bike in a crosswind improves bike handling as does maintaining a straight line during swirling or buffeting winds.  Key to bike handling in this environment is comfort. You must learn how to be relaxed, upper body loose, arms bent, light pressure through the hands and a light grip while powering with your legs and positive attitude! A great way to practice bike handling in an indoor safe environment would be to ride rollers.
3. Clothes. On a windy day, the wind can be very unnerving. It agitates hair follicles and dries the skin.  I’ve found it useful to wear long cloths that fit tight. Voler makes a set of white arm and leg “coolers” that are ideal for this. They block the wind and allow for evapotranspiration.
4. Posture. Tiny adjustments to your position can result in huge changes with respect to drag.  Get in the drops, stay low, keep your head up and nose into the wind, elbows bent, back flat and knees just brushing the top tube. Improving your aerodynamics not only improves your speed, it improves your ability to handle your bike, your safety and your overall form.
5. Equipment.
a. Wheels – Aero spoke wheels, solid disk,  or deep dish rims can make controlling your bike difficult. But, with practice, these cut through the wind more efficiently.
b. Aerobars – make your bike more difficult to control, but again, modifying your geometry can make you slice through it cleanly and quickly.
c. Helmet- Holy helmet Batman! Try an aero helmet.
d. Skin suit, shoe covers. These keep you honest :)
6. Group riding. This is where the wind can be fun! Use the wind to your benefit. This takes skill and practice. When you play your cards right, you can come out up front almost every time! I won a lot of crits this way.  Here’s a snapshot of things to try:
a. Find the bubble. Behind or to the side of every cyclist is a sweet spot where the wind is no longer hindering you, it is helping you. Sucking wheel may not necessarily mean riding 6″ behind the person in front. That sweet spot may be a few feet back and to the side. When you’re in it, the sounds will change, you’ll feel a push from the back and your ears might decompress. The bubble is always shifting, so don’t be complacent.
b. Split riders. If you have two people in front of you, use them both. A bigger bubble is better!
c. Don’t be a hero, only take short pulls.
d. Stay out of “no man’s land”. It’s better to be caught in a trailing group than to be in between  alone and fighting by yourself.
e. If you’re turning into a tailwind, get to the front as soon as possible! You control the pace.
f. Never take a pull downhill into a headwind.

Join the discussion at: http://www.facebook.com/BtBoP

Please feel free to contribute any questions about cycling that you would like to have discussed in future emails.

Tailwinds!
Paul

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