As avid road cyclists, we cycle through the entire year... though we avoid rain, snow, and sub 32° temperatures when ice can pose a hazard. We also avoid road cycling in windier conditions - or when windier conditions are anticipated. Encountering a strong headwind when returning home after a couple / few hour ride is not, in our opinion, a desired way to conclude a morning or afternoon of cycling. The Windfinder website / application below helps us plan when, where, and how long we ride. Their wind speed and wind direction forecasts have been very accurate.
The Effect of Winds on a Bicyclist's Speed - an excellent Bicycling Magazine Bike Tech article from 1984
Overcoming wind resistance aerodynamic drag) presents the main effort for bicyclists, although climbing hills is more daunting. Unlike wind resistance, climbing effort does not diminish at lower speeds, which is partly why bicycles are used mostly in the flat lands. The effort of pushing one's way through the atmosphere is so limiting that most bicyclists ride in a fairly narrow speed range below 20 mph. Regardless of whether racing, touring or shopping, aerodynamic analysis reveals unexpected effects.
Wind can have a very significant impact on cycling speed, even quite gentle wind. The graphs show how both headwinds and cross winds affect performance, and that, in an out-and-back time trial, a tailwind does not make up for time lost riding into a headwind of the same speed. Accordingly, a relatively simple 25 mile ride on a windy day can, and will, take considerably longer than on a calm day.
Click on the Wind Finder Application (below right) to find Wind forecasts for your area
Keep in mind that weather tracking / reporting wind speeds are usually measured about ten meters above the ground.
So forecasts are for a similar height above the ground - and wind speeds typically decrease as you get closer to the ground.
Ride With The Wind
"Most cyclists find the wind is what makes a ride tough, rather than the hills. Hills only crop up occasionally; the wind is a constant. This is where route planning matters. Work out how the wind is blowing and select a circular route, with the outward leg going against any wind, so the breeze blows you home as you get tired. This matters even more in winter because of wind chill - avoid turning into the wind when you are already sweaty, as that will make your body temperature drop. Find smaller roads with hedges and bends rather than wide, exposed main roads."
Bradley Wiggins - The Guardian, 2009
Numerous articles have been written about cycling in the wind.
Some of the more insightful tips from respected publications are listed below:
How to Ride When It's Windy (Bicycling Magazine)
Six Ways to Beat a Headwind (Road Cycling UK)
How to Ride in the Wind (Cycling Weekly)
Our Favorite Cycling Wind Gear (Bicycling Magazine)