Your Wind Training Workout

You can't control the wind, but you can train for it.

Chris Carmichael |

You can’t control the wind, but you can train for it. – By Chris Carmichael

Image By Zoon Cronje
Image By Zoon Cronje

Riding in the wind is a tricky business. Sheltering behind riders in a paceline helps, but when the wind gusts, which it is prone to do especially in the Cape, riding in a paceline can also prove to be a real challenge.

Assuming you do your fair share of the work, there’s the initial pull into the wind, when you need to work hard to maintain the group’s pace. Thirty to 40 seconds later, when you pull off, you’ll decelerate as you drift towards the rear. Getting back into the paceline can be the most difficult part. On a calm day, you can often slide onto the back of the line without accelerating, but in high winds you’ll have to work hard to get into the draft – or risk being dropped. The bottom line is, you need to be able to handle extreme fluctuations in power output: You might put out 95 watts when you’re five spots back, but 350 watts while you’re leading the pack.

[box]To prepare for windy rides and races, try paceline intervals. Each one-minute effort has three phases:
PULL 30 seconds: 90 to 100 revolutions per minute (rpm), at 115% of lactate-threshold power (LT is the point at which it gets hard to speak in full sentences), or 9 on a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale of 1 to 10.
DRIFT 15 seconds: 60 to 70 rpm, 50% of LT power or RPE 3.
SURGE 15 seconds: 100-plus rpm or about 120 to 125% of LT power, RPE 10. Spin easy for one minute between intervals.[/box]

To make the workout more like a real group ride, gradually progress from easy spinning to an endurance­ pace (RPE 5 or 6) during recovery: This simulates the increase in effort required as you move towards the front of a paceline. Think of this exercise in terms of total time rather than the number of surges – in a paceline, you need to ride for an extended period of time, not a set number of
pulls. Start by aiming for 20 minutes (10 intervals); advanced riders should be able to go for at least 40 minutes.

Chris Carmichael is the CEO of Carmichael Training Systems ( and the author of The Time-Crunched Triathlete.


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