Cycling into headwind

Leaves across the ground in Hyde Park cycle lane

We started off the year with some rather dramatic wind speeds sweeping across the UK and London. For some cyclists, this meant brushing the dust off the Oyster card and braving the public transport system. Undoubtedly, as soon as the aggressive fare rises were noticed, promises were made to get back on the bike.

So with no option of public transport how do you cycle into headwind?

  • Reduce your resistance: This is the time when bikes with drop handlebars come into their element. Get down low over the handlebars to reduce the amount of wind resistance your body creates. If your bike doesn’t have drop handlebars then you may be able to fit aero bars. Remember to keep your elbows in. For an extreme solution – get on a recumbent bike!
  • Avoid loose fitting clothes: They’ll flap wildly in the wind and slow you down. Think lycra.
  • Gear down: Cycling into headwind feels similar to riding uphill. With someone having a huge fan at full speed in front of your face. You should gear down just as you would when hill climbing. This will help prevent any knee problems.
  • Slipstream: If you are riding with someone or near a fellow commuter there is the option of slipstreaming. This can improve your performance by around 30%. Of course some bike commuters don’t particularly want you slipstreaming them.
  • Pack light: This is the right time to be very strict with what you’ve packed on your bike – aim to reduce it and you’ll feel the benefit more than ever when cycling into a headwind.

Did you brave cycling into the headwind? How did you find it? Any tips for fellow commuters?

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.


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