Wind blows. OK, I’m stating the obvious – perhaps I should be more specific. Biking in the wind – especially a powerful crosswind that gusts with unpredictable rhythm – pretty much sucks. Not only is it hard to stay upright, much less shift or reach for a water bottle while white-knuckling through Mother Nature’s outbursts, it’s downright scary. Boulder (where I live and ride) is often host to wild winds that whip even the most skilled cyclists into an irritated frenzy. For me – certainly not one of the most skilled riders around – the wind is at times enough to turn me back toward home, too fearful of being blown into a ditch to continue.
I recently went on one such ride. My consolation came in the knowledge that I wasn’t the only cyclist stopped on the side of the road, waiting for the battering gusts to stop – there were clusters of us. When I did finally arrive safely home, I texted the most talented cyclist I know, Julie Dibens:
One of these days will you teach me how to ride in the wind? Without crying, I mean?
The response came back:
Haha. I cry often!
I saw through Dibens’ text to her self-deprecating British humor, as I seriously doubt that she sheds any tears while cycling. In fact, I imagine a sly smile forming on her face each time she heads out on a group ride or a race course marked by maniacal wind, knowing she’ll have even more of an upper hand than in calm conditions. So I pressed on, and thus I learned…
Julie Dibens’ Top Tips For Biking In The Wind (without becoming a blubbering idiot on the roadside):
1. Do the turtle! Keep your head low to stay aero when riding into a headwind.
2. Always beware of what’s up ahead in gusty conditions – like gaps in hedges or buildings – so you can anticipate stronger gusts and be ready. Or look for riders ahead of you getting blown around, as chances are you will get blown at the same spot in the road.
3. If riding with others, make sure to give each other plenty of room.
4. If on a road bike, put your hands on the drops. Keeping a low center of gravity is the most stable way to ride.
5. Don’t ride with deep rims if you know it’s windy.
6. In a crosswind, lean into the wind rather than fighting it.
7. In gusty conditions, don’t fight the wind and bike too much. Stay relaxed and in control with a low center of gravity.
Of course, if all else fails and the wind is far too strong, another key tip is to cycle with a cell phone – the number one tool to recruit a rescue ride home!