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  1. #1
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    How much speed change from headwind/tailwind?

    Hey guys, I was starting to look around for a good cycling club in my area and I found that they usually categorize by average mph. My question is, how much do you guys slow down from headwind, or speed up from tailwind? I have a slight concern that I might get dropped if there's a massive headwind because of my ... size.

    With no wind, my average mph is 19~20, but with a 10mph headwind, my mph tanks to 16 flat. With a 10mph tailwind, my mph is about 21~23. I'm curious how this compares to other riders.

  2. #2
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    The best thing I can tell you is to go out and ride in the wind alone and see. It really depends on the wind, if it is hitting you directly and to be honest, what you are wearing. Wind breakers and baggy coats do you NO favors. This is only my opinion but I have been riding to work and on the weekends all year long and during the winter.

    I would also offer a few tips (or shall I say things I learned the hard way).

    - Eat well a few hours before the ride. The wind sucks out the energy like no tomorrow.
    - Learn to draft and pull if you havent learned it already. When drafting, do NOT overlap tires! When pulling, no sudden jerks.
    - Get a cue sheet if you can. Then if you are dropped, no issue.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SuncoastChad's Avatar
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    Headwinds suck. Tailwinds rock! Even if I don't get a speed improvement I can get along with less effort! Oh, crosswinds have their own set of challenges.
    Before hitting "Enter" or "Send" ask yourself: Is this true? Is this kind? Is this NECESSARY?
    I once had a Colnago/Campy bike built in Italy...then life caught up with me!
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    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    On group rides, headwinds are your friend.

    Although weighing 2x as much as other riders, your frontal area is not 2x as big as theirs. The headwind will become the Great Equalizer. As long as you stay in their draft, they will have to work harder than you to go the same speed. Let them do the work.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Headwinds kill me, and definitely affect my speed, especially on my errand bike with a very upright riding posture. Not as bad on my road bikes, but they still suck. I hate them. I love tailwinds. A bad headwind makes me wonder why I ride a bicycle. A tailwind reminds me why I do.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  6. #6
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I had a headwind last night that knocked my top speed on a hill I go down frequently from 38 mph to 32 mph. Very depressing.

    Riding with groups can be harder - you don't get to go easy for a minute or two just because your legs are feeling tired for that precise moment. On the other hand, you can generally get the benefit of a draft.

    I'd suggest you give it a whirl - the absolute WORST thing that can happen is you get dropped. No big deal. Best case you have a blast and get a great workout in.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    On group rides, headwinds are your friend.

    Although weighing 2x as much as other riders, your frontal area is not 2x as big as theirs. The headwind will become the Great Equalizer. As long as you stay in their draft, they will have to work harder than you to go the same speed. Let them do the work.
    +1. Riders do not generally get dropped from group rides due to headwinds. Under those conditions the group tends to stay together since the person out in front is slowed down by the wind and everyone else can easily keep up since they're partially sheltered from the wind.

    What splits up a group ride are uphills where drafting doesn't provide the usual benefit and, to a lesser extent, strong tailwinds, which also reduce the benefits of drafting.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    - Learn to draft and pull if you havent learned it already. When drafting, do NOT overlap tires! When pulling, no sudden jerks.
    Some people to wheel touch drills. Usually at low speeds on grassy surfaces. I wouldn't recommend it unless it's something you're worried about, but it's good to know there are options.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  9. #9
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    there was a lady two weeks ago on an A ride who overlapped and touched the wheel of the leader. She went down and died. Not good.

  10. #10
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    On group rides, headwinds are your friend.

    Although weighing 2x as much as other riders, your frontal area is not 2x as big as theirs. The headwind will become the Great Equalizer. As long as you stay in their draft, they will have to work harder than you to go the same speed. Let them do the work.
    Yes, having a "compact geometry" (you, not your bike) can play to your strengths. I have some scrawny bike pals that practically float up hills, but I can drop them on the flats/downhills and headwinds. It helps to be able to ride in an aero position.

  11. #11
    Senior Member snowman40's Avatar
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    I don't notice the speed difference as much as say a difference in effort.
    Quote Originally Posted by snowman40
    If you must speed up to pass me, you don't deserve to pass me
    Quote Originally Posted by abstractform20 View Post
    farts are greatly appreciated as long as the other riders are talented and experienced. at the precise moment of release, a vacuum is formed. this is the optimal time for the rider behind you to get as aero as possible and "ride the brown rhino". his face should be within 2-3mm of the anus to receive maximum benefit (reduced drag...duh, its in a vacuum). i have hit speeds of over 53mph in such conditions.

  12. #12
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Usually riding solo, out here in the high desert, I notice about a 5-7 mph difference heading west directly into the wind and a 10-15 mph difference heading east with the plus or minus 20 degree tail wind. Winds out here typically are westerly, between 15-20 mph in the afternoon. If riding a north/south route, the winds are usually on the beam and don't affect speed-of-advance, but do require more effort to track a straight line and not wander into the traffic lanes. Thankfully, most of the roads out here are lightly traveled, so that really isn't an issue.
    Deut 6:5

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    I get about 3-4 mph +/1 from a strong head or tail wind.

    I think the headwinds are more problematic for the lighter riders because they have a comparatively easier time riding up hills.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rec3036's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zowie View Post
    I get about 3-4 mph +/1 from a strong head or tail wind.
    +1 exactly what happened to me on my commute to work today... avg 13 on the way in avg 10 on the way home with strong head wind in my face.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Street Pedaler's Avatar
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    I don't love headwinds, but I'd much rather have to deal with a 25mph and gusty Header than a 25 mph and gusty crosswind. Headers suck, but I can at least keep a line. Gusty crosswinds can make things get really hairy in a hurry. I'm not sure I know what a tailwind is. lol

  16. #16
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    I am ok with head winds. Makes me stronger in the long run.

  17. #17
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    If you can honestly say your average is 20mph you will have no issues with most groups. Keep in mind when clubs state average that is overall average. Our club has lots of issues with new riders saying their average is 20mph but then never keep up. A 20mph average is over the coirse of whole ride including hills. Average is not what you average on flat ground.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by youcoming View Post
    If you can honestly say your average is 20mph you will have no issues with most groups. Keep in mind when clubs state average that is overall average. Our club has lots of issues with new riders saying their average is 20mph but then never keep up. A 20mph average is over the coirse of whole ride including hills. Average is not what you average on flat ground.
    Ahh.. the 19-20mph is based off my daily commute which is fairly flat. On my weekend ride with some rolling hills I get around 17-19. Any climbs over 3miles slows me a lot though since I can't muscle through it...

    I do try to get as aero as possible within my limits regardless of wind, but I guess it can always be improved.

    I guess I can re-learn how to draft again... I (or rather a friend) had a bad experience when the rider ahead of him decided to take both hands off to put on earbuds and started wobblin...

  19. #19
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    The wind is my friend

    It makes me a stronger rider just as effectively as hills do.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  20. #20
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by floatsinwater View Post
    With no wind, my average mph is 19~20, but with a 10mph headwind, my mph tanks to 16 flat. With a 10mph tailwind, my mph is about 21~23. I'm curious how this compares to other riders.
    All of those speeds are better than my averages. With a 20-30 MPH headwind, I've gotten as low as 5 MPH. Most of the time, I vary by +/- 5 MPH, and my instantaneous speed hovers around 15 MPH.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    You can go faster (with a tailwind) if you set your bike up like this.

    Don't believe everything you think.

  22. #22
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.
    Love your signature. Threw me for a moment, then the light bulb turned on. Great one.
    Deut 6:5

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    - Vizzini during his "battle of wits" with the Man in Black

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