The weather has many ways to mock the humble cyclist, but for those of us who spend endless hours pedalling around coastal Lancashire the wind is our true nemesis (if you’ve never had the dubious pleasure of riding, for mile after mile, into a stiff headwind, trust me on this).
On a recent spring day of sunny skies and 17 degrees Celsius, my usual cycling companion had booked me in for a 9am start at Millennium Bridge, a 40 mile ride, and a café stop half way round; in short, a little slice of cycling heaven.
We headed out with a spring in our pedal stroke to find that, yes, it was a glorious day, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t half windy.
But my meteorologically aware friend had a plan.
The wind was a north-easterly, so naturally we rode north-east (with a few twists and turns here and there) towards Kirkby Lonsdale.
‘North-east!’, I hear you say, ‘that’s straight into the teeth of the wind’.
Which it is, of course, and that’s where the rule of thumb comes into play.
You see, when you hit the road on a glorious sunny morning you’re so happy to be alive and pedalling that you’ll take a headwind in your stride; we simply got our heads down and rode hard, taking it in turns to tuck into each other’s slipstreams a la Mark Cavendish or Bradley Wiggins (any excuse to try and look a bit ‘pro’). And the pay-off?
After a mid-ride coffee and cake we emerged to claim our prize: a glorious and life-affirming tail-wind; with the hard yards already done we floated home, wind-assisted, effortlessly cruising at 25 mph and whooping with child-like joy.
So next time you plan a ride on a windy day be sure to get your bearings first, plan your route wisely, and remember the rule of thumb: headwind on the way out, tailwind on the way home (with a café in the middle if the mood takes you).
You might be playing with fire of course: there’s always an off chance that you’ll jump back on your bike post café to find the wind has swung around and robbed you of your moment of glory – you know what they say about ‘the best laid plans’