Daily Archives: October 21, 2009

Making Peace with the Wind

Eagle River at Diamond Star Ranch
Eagle River at Diamond Star Ranch

Riding into a headwind takes a special mindset. During my early days of cycling in the early 1980’s I was at odds with the wind. I would cancel planned rides if the wind kicked up. If the wind caught me by surprise during a ride, it would put me in a foul mood and I found myself fuming as I’d be struggling to get to the end of the ride and to any kind of wind block – a local resturant, bike shop or my car or home. ANYWHERE out of the wind.

That was then, and this is now. In the last 3-4 years, I have made peace with the wind. I have come to believe “beating” the wind takes a few things. 1) Confidence in yourself and your fitness level and 2) Adjusting your time/distance expectations 3) Dressing right 4) a different metal attitude towards the wind.

When the wind howls now, I think of it as a training opportunity. I dress (or bring along) clothing that keeps me comfortable in the wind. A feather-light wind shirt from Go-Lite and a pair of nylon tights that I can pull on over my riding shorts. If I’m riding when it is cooler, I also stuff a “Turtle-fur” cap and long-fingered gloves into my bike shirt pockets. And, perhaps one of the most important changes I’ve made, I adjust my pace and my time/distance/speed expectations. As you probably figured out already, I am very data driven. I love data! And, wind really messes with my data!!! Now, I acknowledge the fact that the wind is a huge factor in performance. My approach is now to take whatever the day gives me. Although I would prefer to climb an incline where I can see the obstacle that is slowing me down, wind is very similar as far as training is concerned. You can get a GREAT workout by riding hard into the wind. I still have issues with cross winds. Perhaps someday I will figure out how to make peace with them as well, but I find them often dangerous and they take incredible concentration and constant adjustment which take away from my ability to enjoy a ride.

I mention this now because today I rode up in Eagle County, Colorado and the wind was howling. Not uncommon in the mountains of Colorado. And, as is also often the case, there was only a slight breeze when I headed up valley from Diamond Star ranch up towards Edwards in the late morning. It was a gorgeous ride along the Eagle River on Rte 6. A winding side-road with gentle grades that takes you past the turn-off to Steamboat at Wolcott. Very little traffic. I think I was out for about 1.5 hours. I allocated extra time for the return trip so I wouldn’t be stressed about time (I guess that’s another important aspect of making peace with the wind). It turned out that since the ride back was down hill it took about the same as the climb up valley.

This is a beautiful spot and it was wonderful to be able to get away and spend time with our friends as we work our way west and south to Telluride. I got up early and took photos of the grounds and a few of the folk art pieces that adorn the shelves of the entry way.