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Top Tips to Beat a Headwind

By Christopher Ashley

“You never have the wind with you – either it is against you or you’re having a good day.” All cyclists intuitively understand Daniel Behrman’s dark humour – you only notice the wind when it’s being unhelpful. Follow these tips to blow away a headwind.

Mental attitude

Probably the most important adjustment you can make is your philosophical approach to headwinds, just think of them the same way you think of climbing hills – they’re to be embraced, cherished, and conquered.

Just look at the maniacs above for their inspirational attitude – now get out into that headwind!

Spin in a lower gear than normal

Wind is inconsistent, so attenuate your power output quickly and with ease by opting for a lower gear. Pedalling faster produces more power – which the drive chain converts into greater output torque. More torque allows you to respond faster when the wind suddenly picks up speed.

Keep pedalling on descents

On a windless day, you can allow yourself some recovery time by coasting on descents, but in a strong headwind with no power output your bike can literally be blown off course. You won’t need much power to keep to your line, but you will need a little if the wind is blustery.


Tight clothing

Look at what pro cyclists wear – tight clothing, and low-profile helmets. Aerodynamic performance becomes exaggerated in a strong headwind, and simply zipping up your jacket to stop it flapping will prevent you from wasting a surprising amount of energy.

Avoid the drops

The other aerodynamic gain is your posture on the bike, and recent studies suggest that riding on the hoods with your forearms horizontal can reduce power requirements by a staggering 13%.


Not only is this more aerodynamic, but as your respiratory system is less compressed, over longer distances more of your energy will be converted into power to battle the headwind.

Attack in the middle of your training rides

Don’t leave the hardest part of your ride till the end. If possible, try to finish your ride with the wind behind you to cool down. Professional stage races often finish in adverse conditions for your viewing pleasure, but the cyclists still have to hop on a turbo to gradually warm down.

The same applies for the start of your rides. Either, cycle into the headwind and accept that you’re going to move at a snail’s pace, or start with the wind behind you. Once you’ve warmed up, steer your route into the headwind and drop a sledgehammer on it.