When you’re watching the Tour de France on TV, it’s hard to truly understand how grueling it can be. Sure, you’re cycling along for a long time and that must be pretty tiring, going up and down all those roads.
But nobody can ever truly understand, unless you are a cyclist, how much of an effect crosswinds can have on your cycling. Here’s a hint: the effect is strong. In fact, it can have such a significant impact that it can change the game entirely.
This can either be for the worse or for the better. Let’s take a look and see how this can be.
What is a Crosswind?
Some of you may be unaware exactly what is meant by “crosswind”. In laymen’s terms, it’s the wind that blows across the cyclist’s direction of travel. So, it’s not directly opposite to the direction of travel but close enough.
This slight difference could make the difference between being blown off course of gently floating towards the finishing line. Even if you’ve never put foot to pedal, you can imagine exactly how crosswinds could potentially be harmful or useful.
We’re still going to detail those pros and cons, however, as there may be something you haven’t yet considered while watching Tour de France. We hope this information enlightens you.
It should go without saying that even those with only a rudimentary knowledge of physics understand that if you have a wind pushing behind you then it can propel you forward.
The opposite is also true. If you’re powering down a hillside at top speed and your brakes won’t slow you down, a strong wind could do the trick. Of course, this shouldn’t be relied on, as the bikes ridden here are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible.
However, it could prevent cyclists from seriously injuring themselves and causing a potential pile-up if they happen to be shooting down a hillside. Brakes could actually be harmful in this instance, so a bit of crosswinds should do nicely (even more so if the hillside is curved, which they very often are).
Of course, the natural downside to crosswinds occurs when you’re not going down a hillside, i.e.: uphill or on a straight road. Most the track for Tour de France will be flat but there will definitely be a few uphill climbs too.
Cycling will therefore be made much more difficult if you’re cycling with the wind in your face. No matter how strong your legs may be, mother nature always triumphs and, depending how strong the wind is, it can seriously impede your progress.
In short, crosswinds are both a blessing and a curse for Tour de France cyclists. But now you understand why they can be such a game changer: they could enhance or hinder their progress simply by the position of the road. Pray that your favourite cyclist gets crosswinds going down a very steep hill as opposes to a flat road.