Riding into the Wind: How Much Wind Is Too Much for Cycling?

Riding in a strong headwind will help you burn calories and build endurance. You can turn around at the end of your ride and get a speed boost on the way home. However, riding in strong winds can also be dehydrating, and if you’re riding in crosswinds, you may be at risk of a fall. No matter the wind speed or temperature, you need to stay hydrated. 

How much wind is too much for cycling?

If the wind is more than 20 mph / 32 kph, you may want to wait until it settles down to head out. One of the risks of riding in the wind is that you risk blowing debris, falling branches, or simply losing control of your bike.

How to ride a bike in headwinds

If you can, try to ride in a group when the winds are high. Try to get larger riders out front and be ready to swap when the resistance wears them out. Make sure you frequently stop for breaks and stay hydrated and nourished. 

Additionally, remember that wind directions can change, and gusts can lead to extra hazards. If you’re riding along a wooded trail and notice a break in the trees, be prepared for a change in the wind, either in direction or intensity.

How to ride a bike in crosswinds

Riding in crosswinds takes a lot of focus. The environment around you can tell you what the wind is doing on a blustery day when everything changes. Keep an eye on what the greenery is doing; if the tall grass or small trees are leaning or flattening out, you can expect a gust to hit you and your bike.

Crosswind days are not the days to be working on your time trials. Erratic winds that buffet you around put you at risk of blowing debris and garbage, balance issues, and getting clipped by another cyclist. If you really need a ride on a blustery day with winds coming at you from every direction, ensure your vision is protected and that you are fully kitted out with your safety gear.

How to ride a bike in tailwinds

Riding in a tailwind can boost you; a tailwind decreases the resistance you have to pedal against. However, it’s easy to overheat in a strong tailwind because you’re not enjoying the evaporative cooling you get from moving through still air or into a headwind.

If you’re riding on a hot day and enjoying a tailwind, keep an eye on the weather. If the wind doesn’t calm down or switch, you must ride home against that tailwind. Stay hydrated and take breaks even if you’re not tired. 

Is 15 mph wind strong for cycling?

If you’re training for a big race on a track that’s usually calm, a 15 mph steady blow is a good training aid. While 20 mph can be dangerous, 15 mph is a solid resistance that you will feel and not be hampered by. Start with a tailwind, so you don’t overheat on that last sprint home. Moving through the air will keep you cooler.

Is 10 mph wind strong for biking?

Riding in 10 mph winds can be a great training aid. You will get some resistance riding into the wind but not enough to feel like you’re walking. You’ll get some boost from the tailwind but hopefully not enough to cause overheating. If you’re not used to crosswinds, switch your direction as possible to build up awareness of how your bike handles in a crosswind before you build up speed.

Is it safe to cycle in strong winds?

Riding against a strong wind can be frustrating. Riding with a strong tailwind can lead to overheating. Finally, winds move more than bicycles; you can be at risk of blowing debris and branches all over the trail and other riders in the struggle.

Do you burn more calories by cycling in the wind?

The main factor that burns calories on a bicycle ride is your intensity. If you are riding into a strong headwind or your body shape isn’t terribly aerodynamic, you will burn more calories than a narrow person on a calm day.

Read more: Top Science-Based Cycling Benefits

Final Thoughts

Cycling is a terrific way to enjoy the great outdoors, but the great outdoors doesn’t always cooperate. On calm days, check out new trails to see what hazards you may face on an extremely windy day. Look out for spots where you may be facing crosswinds. Find places along the path where you can stop and hydrate. If you ride in a group, be ready to be the lead rider on a windy day to provide temporary breaks for your team.

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