Let’s talk about headwinds while cycling. My friends did over a 100 km ride this weekend. All they complained about was riding in strong headwinds. There is no way to fight mother nature, however, do we have a way around headwinds while cycling? Furthermore, can we ease up our riding in strong headwinds? Riding in strong headwinds is an art. Let’s find out more about it.

Headwind While Cycling!

When I ride, I usually look out for headwind. This is because I want to get as many good stats on my STRAVA. At times riding against the headwind, you start feeling tired quickly. The idea is to relax and use headwinds to your advantage.

Ways To Counter Headwind While Cycling

Let’s take few ways by which we can counter headwind while cycling. Here are some tips to help you, both physically and mentally, when you’re riding into a headwind.

Headwind Blocker & Drafting

I do this a lot. This is quite mean way of looking at headwind. However, I do this very often while riding in strong headwinds. I usually utilize the strongest rider in the group to lead the riders and all the riders ride or in other words draft behind the strongest rider.

Let’s Understand What Is Drafting From A Professional Rider?
Trilok riding down hill Nahargarh against the headwinds.
Trilok professional rider from Jaipur cycled for 24 hours battling headwinds.

Drafting is an important strategy in cycling. This reduces the efforts of riders when riding behind a more experienced and strong rider. The idea is to use the strongest rider to beat the headwind. Riding behind another rider shelters you from the worst of the wind, and makes pedaling much easier.

When we’re riding at 30km/h on a flat road, wind resistance accounts for approximately 80% of the total resistive force. When we increase our speed to 50km/h, wind resistance increases to a massive 94%. Quite simply, the greater the speed, the greater the drag. And the greater the drag, the greater the benefit to riding in someone’s slipstream.

Difference between the two cycle tires when drafting is of mere inches. The rider on the front will be using significantly more energy than those behind and therefore if there is a difference of ability and you want to keep the pace as high as possible, the strongest riders should spend the most time on the front.

Get Into An AeroDynamic Position

aerodynamic position on a road bike with drop bars
Get into an aerodynamic position

When you cycling against headwinds, the resistance of the air increases. The way to cut down this resistance is to minimize your own drag. When you ride your cycle the drag is basically you and your bike. Your body constitutes 80% of the drag and rests 20% is off the bike.

You can reduce both of them. Anything you can do to reduce your frontal area is a bonus. If you’re on a road bike, get onto the drops, and if you’re not, keep your body low and your elbows in.

Elbows placed together and low riding position on an MTB to lower the drag.
Elbows placed together and low riding position.

Just imagine you’re playing hide and seek with the wind, and you’re on ‘hide’. Imagine your body like a flag in the wind, because that’s basically what you are.

Check The Clothes You Wear

No flap out clothing
No flap out clothing

Do not wear loose clothing while cycling. No part of your clothes should flat out in the wind. It sounds insignificant, but in a severe headwind, you will really notice the difference.

The more the flapping more the resistance and the drag. If you know it’s going to be windy, opt for a closer fitting kit. If you find you get blasted whilst out, zip up the zips you have (right to the top!) remove anything you don’t need.

Ride planning needs to be done to battle headwinds While Cycling

riding in strong headwinds requires great deal of planning

Most of the riders check the weather before heading out. I know because I do the same. Always remember, if you encounter a headwind on the way to your destination, you will get a tailwind as well while returning. Use it to your benefit. 

If you’re riding a loop, you’d probably rather start out riding into a headwind, and then enjoy the easy push back of a tailwind on the way home. This will initially feel like an awful decision, but you’ll change your mind on the home straight when you barely have to pedal. Phew!!!!

Use Your Gears Wisely

riding in strong headwinds with proper gears helps reduce the drag when riding in strong headwinds
Use gears wisely!

In any type of bike that you purchase, gears are to be used effectively. We all know that gear selection is important whilst climbing, but do you keep it in mind when it comes to dealing with headwinds? 

The higher your gear, the more resistance the bike throws up. So, if you’re already struggling with the added kickback from the headwind, churning your normal gear is probably not a good idea.

If you have a long slog into the wind ahead of you click into a gear that is easier to pedal. Do not drain yourself against the headwind, wait for that lovely tailwind.

Be Mentally Strong Against Strong Headwinds While Cycling


One of my rider friends did 170 km while other did 70 in the same headwinds. The rider who did 170 km was tough in his head, the second rider lost the battle in the head first. Mentally you will have to be tough and if needed make small goals and milestones. Half of the battle when you’re faced with a long stretch of headwind is in your head.

It can be disheartening to be riding twice as hard as normal, yet going twice as slowly. Remember that the problem is the wind, not you. Any questions please drop in the comments and I will answer you back.


  1. All this is known to experienced cyclists.
    Your first photo shows a rider with flat bars, which increase your frontal area.
    No good on road bike!
    And 30kph is too fast for the average solo rider. 20-25 would be more reasonable. 50 kph? That’s the speed of a pro peloton!


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