Question: I live in the western Mojave Desert near Edwards Air Force Base. The wind howls but there aren’t any hills. Is there a way to use headwinds to become a better climber? Also, how should I do recovery rides when the wind is always blowing? Finally, do you recommend that I use a power meter and structure my training? Now, I just go hard and rest a day or two when I feel fatigued. — Jim C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Wind in your area is a challenge, for sure.
One year at the Furnace Creek 508, our team got blown around for most of the 24 hours. In fact, the organizer called it the windiest 508 on record. The nighttime sandstorm in Death Valley was something we’ll never forget!
Wind can help your climbing to some extent. Riding into it requires muscular power just like riding up a hill. But because it’s not quite the same, you can’t expect your climbing to improve dramatically. Only riding lots of hills will make that happen. Still, you should make gains by using the wind.
The biggest problem with recovery rides in windy areas is probably mental. You can always gear down to reduce headwind efforts. But it’s a drag to pedal along at less than 10 mph. Instead of facing the gale again when needing an easy spin, do it inside on your trainer while watching a good video.
Monitoring your workouts with a heart monitor and/or power meter has value and I advocate it (with some reservations) in my eBooks. But training by intuition works, too, if you’re experienced enough — and it sounds like you are.