Let your favorite weather app choose your route.
In lots of places (especially flat places), wind direction should be the number one factor in deciding which roads to ride. I was reminded of this during a recent week with lots of wind.
The idea is to ride a route that takes you into the wind on the way out. You’re feeling fresh and strong starting rides, so pushing into the invisible wall isn’t a big physical or mental strain.
It gets a lot tougher, though, if you sail through the first half of a ride with it at your back, then have to battle a headwind with waning energy.
Wind direction is especially important as cold weather sets in — often accompanied by brisk breezes.
Starting into the wind, you’re dry and comfortable. The airflow keeps you from overheating even though you’re putting out effort. When you turn back, you have a helping hand pushing to push you home.
Starting with the wind, you’ll overheat as you pedal in what’s effectively still air. You’ll sweat and get damp. Then when you reverse course, the cold headwind will penetrate and freeze you.
TIP: If you’ve already started your ride and you don’t want to stop and look at your phone, check flags to get a good read on wind direction.
Pat Lamb says
This advice works well in cool weather. In hot weather, though, you might want to turn it around — especially on multi-hour rides starting early in the day. Under those circumstances, you may do better to start with the wind, and then ride home against the wind, getting extra cooling from the added breeze. If you start against the wind, you may find yourself in the hottest part of the day, in the sun with little shade, and a breeze going your way means it’s very difficult to cool off.
Oliver Jones says
The US National Weather Service website offers a nice “Hourly Graphical Forecast”. It shows forecast temperature, wind speed, gusts, and direction hour by hour. And a mess of other weather data.
Here’s the one for Boulder CO.
To get yours visit https://forecast.weather.gov/ , type your location into the little box at the upper left and click Go. Then scroll down, look for the Hourly Weather Forecast chart on the lower right of the page, and click it.
You may want to consider an evaporative scarf, cheap at A or WM. You can load it with water and put it in a zip lock bag, removing it and draping over your neck and down your chest when it gets hot. You’d be surprised how effective they are. Longer ride, carry two or recharge anywhere you can get water.
Been doing this for years, especially in cooler months here outside Boston. You just have to be careful of Murphy’s 2nd law of cycling: “When you start out with a head wind and reach your turnaround point, the wind changes direction.” I recently had the opposite happen. We started with a tailwind and at our turnaround point, we noticed a headwind on the return. How cool is that!
Lee Cryer says
The Windy app is excellent. The free version gives you hourly wind direction forecast maps using five different models. I like the HRRR and NAM models best.
David Cole says
The Epic Ride Weather app includes a very useful wind map for a route during the time you’ll be riding it. It integrates with RideWithGPS and other route sources. It’s not free, but I’ve found it to be very worthwhile.