Avoid battling a headwind by yourself. Early on, I decided that attacking into the wind at the beginning of the backstretch was a stupid move. When a cyclist rides 25 miles an hour against a headwind of 10, it will feel like 35. While it might be easy to sit in a group cruising along flat ground at this speed, the wall of air that awaits a lone escapee is overwhelming.
of the rectangular course, while a headwind stalled progress all the way down the back.
Since a breeze from the side diminishes the benefits of linear drafting and hinders everyone, racing aggressively in these conditions is more likely to pay off. In this sense, a crosswind is similar to a climb: Pedal hard and it will be tough for others to follow.
Tweak timing and positioning in a field sprint. The gallop to the finish line at Somerville aptly nicknamed the Kentucky Derby of Cycling occurred in a partial tailwind and partial crosswind from the right. Under these conditions, it made sense to jump early (because of the gust from behind) and on either left the side of the road (sheltered from competitors) or on the absolute far right side of the road (protected by fans and fencing).
As racers embarked on a blisteringly fast and sultry 50 mile, 40 lap competition around a wide open criterium course, my interior monologue was more than just hot air. Here's what I told myself to do:
Use the tailwind to your advantage. Attacking just before the tailwind section (by getting a jump into the corners before the homestretch) was the smarter move. It's Air Max Classic Red easier to accelerate into a headwind (assuming slower speed), but when it comes to maintaining a gap (at high speed), a tailwind is helpful. Since gaps appear larger at high speed (a 5 second gap between riders moving at 25 mph is much smaller, in terms of physical distance, than the more intimidating one that separates two riders moving at 35 mph), fewer competitors would attempt to follow the move on this stretch of road.
Ride aggressively in a crosswind. As the race in Somerville wore on, the groups of riders who rolled off the front held their advantage for more time with each round of attack and counterattack. Sure, it was hot and the chasers behind were tiring, but aggressive riders benefited from a midrace switch to a crosswind.
ahead of everyone else.
A couple of weeks ago I visited the blustery mountains and plains of my home state, Colorado, and I shared a few thoughts on how to ease the challenge of riding on windy days. But how about racing in the wind? Well, I've had to do some of that too, like last week at the Tour of Somerville in New Jersey, the country's oldest bike race and a gusty affair. It provided an opportunity to hone a different set of wind defying tactics.
Cheating the Wind
Identify the wind direction. During our pre race meeting, my teammates and I discussed how wind conditions might affect the race. In this case, a strong tailwind pushed riders along the long homestretch Nike Air Max 95 Green And Black
But as soon as the break was caught and it was time to perform the leadout for our sprinter, my concern was for my teammates only. If possible, the leader would ride close to the gutter on the leeward side of the road but leave only enough room for his companions behind.
Make friends or enemies in a crosswind. During the first portion of the race, my mission was either to attack off the front or bridge across to a breakaway up the road. In either case, I had no interest in helping Air Max Flyknit Mens
Shelter yourself from a crosswind by planning ahead. In the approach to each corner, I deliberately positioned myself on either side of the group depending on the direction of the crosswind blowing on the upcoming straightaway. In general, it's best to be on the leeward side of the group, and it's easier to occupy a coveted space on that side of the road if you think one step Air Max 95 Children's
Eventually the gusts shifted, and a crosswind blew along the two long sections of the rectangular course. Again, a crosswind can be surprisingly difficult to judge in the chaos of competition, and the easiest place to gauge the direction of the airflow was on the brief section where we faced a headwind.
anyone behind me. As often as possible, I'd make my acceleration on the leeward side of the road, presumably launching ahead in the shelter of anyone nearby and, more important, leaving no room for anyone to draft next to me.
For instance, if the wind comes from left, the clever move is to attack on the right side of the road, sheltered from competition on the left, while eliminating space for passengers in the gutter on the right. Later in the race, however, my team's goal was to help chase a breakaway and then lead out the field sprint. In that case, I wanted to enlist the help of fellow racers, so it made sense to occupy the windward side of the road to leave as much room as possible for others to draft and help chase.
My team's designated sprinter, Luke Keough, chose the line on the far right, sheltered by the crowd. After an afternoon of deftly using an invisible force to our advantage, the payoff was tangible: the trophy for the victory at the 2012 Tour of Somerville.
Identifying wind direction can be tricky when air is swirling off riders and landmarks nearby, so it's a good idea to check conditions before the start. Still, as the race unfolded, I paid attention to how the breeze affected flags (abundant at the Memorial Day event), pieces of litter, and even tree branches that lined the course.
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