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Assuming that you have a group of 10 riders that can operate an efficient rotating double paceline and wind speeds of 15 mph, which will be faster 20 miles out into a headwind followed by 20 miles back of tailwind or 40 miles out and back of crosswinds?
 

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That's tough to say. It depends on the strength of the wind as well as the endurance of the riders. If you can form an effective echelon I think I'd vote for the cross winds. Going directly into the wind is going to tire the riders regardless of the pace line. You'll still need a lot of gas in the tank at the turn around. Riding with a tail wind may be lots more fun but you'll still have to work hard. If the wind is 15 mph & you're riding 25, effectively you'll be riding into a 10 mph head wind. When I was racing I was a time trialer, & since I'm a big guy & had a lot of horse power, I used to pray for long, flat, windy time trials. Smaller, faster guys could have their way with me, but not into the wind. If I were riding alone I'd go into the wind & ride the tailwind home. In an effective paceline...maybe not.
 

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Hard to say for sure, because crosswinds can do a lot of damage. But in general, comparing headwinds and tailwinds, you will lose more time on the headwind leg than you can gain on with a tailwind over the same distance, because the drag increases generally with the square of the speed of the relative wind.
 

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No such thing as crosswinds

Joe the biker said:
Assuming that you have a group of 10 riders that can operate an efficient rotating double paceline and wind speeds of 15 mph, which will be faster 20 miles out into a headwind followed by 20 miles back of tailwind or 40 miles out and back of crosswinds?
The problem is one of vector summation, and as soon as your bike starts moving forward, your crosswind becomes a partial headwind, and the faster you ride, the more of a headwind it becomes. The problem is the same whether you have 10 riders or one: how much power is required to overcome the direct headwind vs. the "quartering" headwind that results from a 90 degree crosswind while riding at speed. This immediately becomes a very complex fluid dynamics problem due to the variables of body shape, wheel design, frame tube size, body position, etc.

Short answer is that a 15 mph crosswind will "probably" do less damage than a 15 mph headwind, but there are a lot of variables and you might not really see much difference on a timed ride with a power meter.
 

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Another consideration.

Joe the biker said:
Assuming that you have a group of 10 riders...
As to the crosswind, much depends on the width of the road and/or a willingness to cross the centerline. If you can stagger ten riders into a rotating echelon across the entire road, all ten will contribute to the effort. If the road is too narrow or the centerline rule is observed, some of those ten riders will be forced into the gutter* and will almost certainly come off the back.

*squeezed out of the echelon and forced to ride behind (instead of next to) someone in a crosswind.
 

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I should know the answer to this with as much west Texas wind as I ride in, but I don't . I do know that i can solo every bit as well or even a little better in crosswinds. But 40 miles of it would get tiring and begins to become a mental fatigue thing after awhile. I think it might depend on the mix of riders and their ability to stay in the gas with the tail wind. Of course then you have the whole lane usage and guttering issue as well. I think I might have to give the edge to the head/tail scenario. But it might be really close on time either way.
 
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