It sure is nice cruising down your favorite road at 50km/hr with the wind at your back and barely breaking a sweat. This is what I did a few days ago with a gusty northerly. After an easy hour of riding, I realized that I was 50km away! I still had to turn around…
Its times like these when you’re pushing into a 35 knott headwind that make you contemplate your choice in sports. What to do? Change your perception. Pushing against the wind is great for the strength, but unfortunately the harder you push, the harder it gets. It’s easy to get frustrated while pushing as hard as you can and feeling like you’re getting nowhere. What I do is give up all expectations of 50km/hr speeds and try to work on a different aspect of cycling. You will never be satisfied at the end of a headwind ride if your only focus is pushing harder. I usually concentrate on my pedal stroke efficiency, making sure that it’s completely smooth with a fairly high cadence of 100rpm.
Headwinds also provide a good opportunity to play around with your body position. Watch your computer and notice how small positional changes affect your speed. Get aero and tweak your riding position and see what is optimal. A power meter is particularly effective for this purpose. You can look at your speed (when the road is flat and wind constant) vs power and check when your speed increases while power remains constant.
You can’t do anything about the wind until the road turns, so welcome the wind as an aid to becoming a better rider.
TIP: If you can, take the option to start your ride against the headwind so that you’re blown back towards home when you turn around. I find this makes things a bit more enjoyable. Alternatively, if you ride with the wind on your way out, you can get rather far with little effort. If you end up going further than you normally would, you don’t have any choice but to take the hard way home. Depending on the way you look at it, this could be a good thing or a bad thing!