Feedback requested: Downhill on way back with headwind or uphill on way back with tailwind

So this is more a theoretical question at this point but I thought I would put it out for further discussion.

When riding south of the city with a group, it is typically a fairly consistent downhill on the way out and a fairly consistent uphill on the way back. Normally we would ride with the wind.

However, there has been a few rides recently going that way where the hills on the way back seem to be the deciding factor rather than the wind direction. Strong climbers are fine but the weaker climbers drop off the back and the group is stretched (or it breaks up).

So I thought of another option, do a different route where we road uphill on the way out (hopefully with a tailwind) when everyone is fresh then downhill into a headwind on the way back. Strong riders would do more pulls and take the brunt of the wind. Those that are tired could then take short pulls or miss them altogether. This should keep the group together better. It would only work when the group was bigger (doing this would hurt with a small group!).

What are peoples thought on this alternative approach?

What a thoughtful question as you fly up the hills and are clearly thinking of others :slight_smile: Fine by me to try. I’d consider two things beforehand. One, riding south is overall downhill but only about 125m in elevation change between Sobeys and, say, Paris (according to the internet, which is always right). This is a factor but gets somewhat lost in the over 800m we’d climb on that ride. The second is consider the magnitude in wind speed change. If there is a light tail wind out and a strong headwind back, the 125m bonus in elevation may not be as appealing as we had hoped. If the forecast calls for more even wind speeds then maybe that is the day for the experiment.