Why is it difficult to ride a bicycle against the wind?
When it comes to cycling in the wind one of the most common questions is why is it so hard to ride a bike against the wind.
Overall, since the wind is blowing against the rider from an opposite direction, it will act as friction or even worse as a resistant force against the movement of the bike.
Riding in Headwinds
Riding into a headwind will usually reduce a cyclist’s speed by about half the speed of the wind in question. For instance, if you can ride at speed of up to 28kph in calm conditions on a flat road and then ride into a 32 kph headwind, your speed could drop to 12 kph even with the same power output.
If you are riding in 40mph headwinds you will need to produce enough power to ride at 43 kph in calm conditions if you are to ride at 7 mph into the high winds. For most riders, this would be too much wind and an impossible feat to maintain for very long.
According to experts such as doctor Ed Burke wind tunnel studies show that quartering winds may be just as difficult to ride as compared to headwinds. According to studies wind in the forward 200 degrees of the imaginary circle around a rider will make it harder to ride.
For the most part, only quartering and direct tailwinds in the trailing 160 degrees will make cycling easier. As such, this is why cycling will oftentimes feel like riding into a headwind no matter which direction you take.
It is for this reason that most riders prefer long climbs rather than headwinds. The reason for this is that long climbs will inevitably end in a summit while headwinds seem to go on forever.
Check out tips for cycling in the wind
Other Reasons why Headwinds Are Tougher
Temperatures May be Colder
If you live in places where it can get particularly cold in winter, riding in winds can make everything seem colder despite the actual temperatures.
Wind May Blow Debris Into Your Path
In winter the wind tends to be stronger and may blow ribbons of snow and other debris into the road making riding into winds even more challenging.