I’ve always had a strange admiration for the headwind. While I’ll still curse each and every one I encounter right there with the best of ’em, there’s still a certain redeeming quality to a nice, stiff headwind.
If a tailwind is that friend you can never really trust completely, full of promises too good to be true, you have to appreciate the headwind for its brutal honesty—it’s out to get you and makes no effort to hide that fact.
A worthy adversary, the headwind always factors into my riding plans, as here in San Luis Obispo, it’s never a matter of if there will be a headwind—there will—but simply a matter of which direction it’s blowing.
Dutch mountains, as they’re also known, headwinds can adopt a downright nasty disposition. I’ve spent many an afternoon spinning away into gale-force winds, legs burning from climbing a never-ending horizontal slope.
For those who don’t see eye-to-eye with climbs, they’ll tell you they catch themselves looking up, searching for the summit more often than they’d care to admit. Alas, with climbing of the horizontal variety, there’s no summit by which to meter out your suffering, only adding to the headwind’s sadistic persona.
Ride into a headwind long enough and you can almost swear you hear it laugh.
Sure, there are definitely a few ways to mitigate a headwind’s menace. Riding with others and sharing the burden on the front, tackling the headwind at the beginning of your ride, dropping a few gears and spinning, or trying to avoid it entirely—you certainly have options.
But, if you really want to beat the headwind, there’s really only one thing you can do: Embrace it.
Note: For particularly heavy headwinds, I recommend finding a roadside pub, or, if you’re lucky, a tasting room at a local winery, because in these cases, sometimes a little buzz is necessary for becoming one with the breeze.