After a long winter training inside we’d like to be able to get out on our bikes when spring comes along and have perfect conditions for the rest of the season. Seeing as that is very unlikely however it’s best to be prepared for the various weather conditions. The main weather elements that will affect you are rain, wind and temperature and they all require different preparation and race strategy
If you are road racing, rain will have less of an influence on you. If it looks like it might rain be sure to carry additional clothes for warmth and waterproofs in case it really does come down.
Wind on the other hand will have a far larger impact on strategy during a road race. Situations such as a strong head- or tailwind can completely decide whether a breakaway group or solo cyclist has a chance of making it. A headwind is a very hard thing to contend with and the pack will be able to expend far less energy in catching the breakaway. A tailwind will be more of an advantage to a breakaway group as they benefit more from it than a large group of chasers. If there is a large crosswind you need to be near the front of the pack. This ensures that you don’t get caught in the back half of a split
The temperature will determine how much food and water you drink. More drink in hot weather and more food in cold weather as the body burns more fuel to keep warm. An easy way to see if you are dressed appropriately is to see if you are a bit cold in the beginning of the races. This means that you will be fine when you have worked up a bit of a sweat.
Racing in time trials is also affected more by wind than rain. Rain is mainly an issue when going round corners as these can’t be taken quite as quickly as when dry. As long as it rains throughout the time trial this will be the same for everyone. If it starts raining halfway through then the people who raced in the dry will have an advantage.
Having a strong wind blowing during a time trial will completely change your strategy depending on which way the wind is blowing. If you have a head wind when going out then you should cycle harder as you will have the support of a tail wind when coming back. The opposite goes when you have tail wind going out, as the return leg will be a lot harder you should conserve energy for it.
Temperature is less of an issue in a time trial. Dress as necessary for the conditions then focus on those vital split seconds between you and your rivals.
Shorter city based races won’t be affected hugely by wind unless they are very open. However rain will play an important factor in how fast you can take the corners. Don’t misjudge this or you’ll be out of the race before you know it.