What a difference the wind makes? Or lack of it!

I rode my Wilier Cento Uno again yesterday and whilst I have been raving about the 3T Ergosum shallow drop bars on the De Rosa Merak the fact that the Ritchey Logics drop lower probably makes me faster. Low is good especially in Worthing, one of the top kitesurfing venues in the country.

At 20 mph 50% of your effort goes into cutting a slice through the air. Air is tough stuff, meteorites burn up trying to pass through it. Just imagine how much effort you need to ride into wind? So low is obviously good. That it is why road racing bikes have drop bars and thin tubes. Unfortunately, human beings sit on them and they are just about the least aerodynamic thing in cycling. These day the market obsesses with “sportive” bikes. Like women specific bikes, it’s just a nice marketing term for a comfortable bike that fits. A good fit rarely comes straight out of the box but is something that any good shop will spend time (sometimes a lot of time) to get right.

I ride low. In fact I have to remove my watch or put it over my arm warmers or jacket as it hurts when the buckle of the strap rest right on the bend of the handlebar. When I first started road riding I shared the road with a mountain bike racer and he too road with his wrists flat on the bars, fore arms parallel with the ground. I went to a bike shop and asked if they could set my bike to do the same. They laughed at me. It wasn’t the bike! Twenty five years of road riding, countless snowboarding holidays (you stretch your back and hams to do your bindings up) and now regular stretching has got me low on the bike.

I used to say that I can ride hills (you can see and focus on the summit) but couldn’t ride into wind where no final goal could be seen. But, since opening the shop, I have done a lot of road races and I can’t remember one that wasn’t windy. In fact the last couple of years we seem to have been racing in gales. So now, whilst I still detest the wind I can cope but now seem to struggle on all the hills!

However, don’t obsess about getting low on the bike. Get comfortable first. I can help. And then let time and comfort in the saddle (and a few windy days) slowly get you lower on the bike. Generating power in the best way that you can is better than being aerodynamic and weaker.

For the first time since riding on Tuesday nights there wasn’t an easterly blowing. The wind seemed to be south-south-west, nearly on shore and not too strong. It seemed that, whatever direction, riding was relatively wind free. I have now moved from 70th along the seafront to 14th. The intervals of these Tuesday nights are starting to have an effect and each effort that I make is getting longer and the recovery quicker so roll on a good south westerly!

Here is the ride: Strava.

An evening ride with shorts, base layer, jersey and arm warmers! I was cold waiting to start but warm once we got going. Summer is fast approaching!

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