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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

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    It IS all about the bike! HRUMPH!! Here I was thinking I might have a medical issue and my bike just stunk! Well, ok, the motor still does need work, but the new bike is AWESOME. I flew up the hill everyone was dropping me on today; still out of breath, but not in a huffing and puffing, going to fall over sort of way and with more speed to show for it (and a much faster recovery). Rode with (well, LED! whoot!) the mellow group (with one first timer) today so I can't really judge yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing how long I can hang with the "big boys" next week.

    Still going to work on intervals, breathing, and the other suggestions here of course. Obviously I should be able to ride any bike and not feel like I'm going to pop, so I still have stuff to work on for sure. Feeling much more confident that it's just getting into the swing of things though now.

    I wish my DSLR wasn't in Nikkon's possession so I could post some pics for you guys.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    its not about the bike but it helps!

    I have that quote but only cos I started riding to conquer chronic and terrifying illness( yes! I am on my bike,well not today but tommorow, when I can get out of bed again!)
    I used to ride a cheapie chain store one, and man, that sucked! My subzero flys where the other one made knees hurt.

    I take spin class, for strength too. Its hard for me, alot of days as virus flaring up makes even the light gear seem like a HUGE hill, at high altitude. Plus it tends to increase my lactic acid.( put it this way, I can barely break into run for a couple of meters without breathing heavy.) So I figure, its about equal to busting a gut riding after faster riders, up hills, sorta!

    So what I do( rather than cry!) is pretend Im Lance.I picture my legs pumping away, like pistons( and I say this, my legs are pistons, my legs are steel springs!) and flying up alp d'euz or whatever. Then I forget for the most part, how hard it is. Then once I have that down, I do what he does, that is concentrate on breathing out of your nose and mouth in long breaths. Youll breathe all you need to in. I like to picture stuff I watched on facebook, of Tour greats, when I train so I dont get bored( even half dead, with fatigue my mind wanders, go figure!)

    PLus a heart monitor will tell you if your really at your limit. If I know I am working at my hardest heart rate( I have one for bad days and one for good), and and am riding as hard as I can go, I figure - hey ! I am kicking *** for today!
    Plus, stepping up intervals to four times a week helps build up to hills and keeping up.

    Im glad to hear your bike helped out!
    Id love a carbon bike,myself.
    Conquering illness, one step at time.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    I am in excellent shape and have no "breathing" problems outside of sports, but one wouldn't think so listening to me swim, bike, and run, I huff and puff my way through, even practicing breathing excers. I breathe so heavy you can hear me a mile away, but I am actually NOT that tired, and don't FEEL like I am gonna collapse or drown, so I have stopped worrying about it. At the pool the lifeguards come and ask if I am ok,(until they get to know me), when I am riding up hill, people turn around to see who is breathing so hard as I come up to pass, and running, even slow-ish, I breathe heavy. Just decided that some people breathe heavier, just like some people are more flexible.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    The middle of North America
    Quote Originally Posted by BleeckerSt_Girl View Post
    Yep, I have the same problem. It's my respiratory limitations that get me on the hills. But 2 1/2 years of biking and walking have helped noticeably. I did used to smoke a lot years ago, plus had very severe pneumonia as a child, so all of that has taken it's toll. Sometimes I simply cannot breathe hard enough or deeply enough to get the oxygen I need on a big hill.
    ah ha! that is my overall problem - I never thought about it before.
    I do have asthma and am trying a new inhaler that will hopefully help and may get a new preventative. But some of my lung problems may have came from the fact that I almost died of pneumonia when I was only 2 weeks old - who knows what damage was done to those tiny little lungs.

    As I am gasping going up hills and the others are merrily chatting along - I just gasp out "Just you all wait until I can breathe again! ! ! "

    But I must say, if I keep my weight down, strengthen my legs, and ride tons of hills I do see a lot of improvement.

    It's about the journey and being in the moment, not about the destination

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I don't know if you have use of an elliptical, but no matter how in shape I think I am, all I have to do is hop on an elliptical and get a rude awakening about how awful my cardiovascular becomes over the winter months.

    There is also a little plastic gadget you can get that helps to strengthen your lungs. I'm not talking about the sports kind they sell, not sure about those, but my husband has one his oncologist gave him when he was in the hospital and it actually helped my husband. It has a plastic tube hooked to a container that has a plastic ball in it. You gauge how well you do by the rise of the ball.
    Bianchiste TE Girls

    flectere si nequeo superos, Achaeronta movebo

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Quote Originally Posted by eclectic View Post
    ah ha! that is my overall problem - I never thought about it before.
    I do have asthma and am trying a new inhaler that will hopefully help and may get a new preventative. But some of my lung problems may have came from the fact that I almost died of pneumonia when I was only 2 weeks old - who knows what damage was done to those tiny little lungs.

    As I am gasping going up hills and the others are merrily chatting along - I just gasp out "Just you all wait until I can breathe again! ! ! "

    But I must say, if I keep my weight down, strengthen my legs, and ride tons of hills I do see a lot of improvement.
    Wow, that is a total description of me!
    Even after riding 3500 hilly miles in 2007, I was still the only one gasping and breathing hard up hills while even people totally out of shape would be chatting and cruising up the hill! (But on the downhills I drop them like flies, and I can ride much longer distances than they can.) And yes I do improve with more walking and biking....but always lagging way behind others when it doesn't seem logical.
    It's fascinating to me your story because when I was 6 months old I too almost died of pneumonia- in fact the doctors had already told my parents that they didn't expect me to live...it was that close. Now hearing your story I wonder about the longterm lung damage that may have caused. Pneumonia causes permanent scarring in the lungs, and scarred lung tissue just doesn't work as efficiently. Hmmmm....
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Southeast Idaho
    I have very mild asthma and allergies and have found especially in the spring that I feel like I am breathing through a straw and it is only when going up hill. An inhaler helps.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Folsom CA

    Thumbs up thanks!

    I had an asthma attack yesterday after completing a long climb. It was only the second one I've ever had, the first one was almost three years ago (SadieKate and aka_kim got to witness that spectacle back then). Happily, this one was nowhere near as bad, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to die this time but I still had that horrible feeling of my throat closing up for a few minutes.

    Anyhow, I poked around w the search function and came across this thread. There's some good info in here, many thanks! It's making me realize that I do routinely get out of breath on long climbs or other long, strenuous activities. I didn't think too much of it, just assumed I was out of shape, but perhaps there's else something to it.

    As luck would have it I'm going in for a physical exam this coming week. I'll be discussing this w my Dr.

    Thanks again!

    2009 Lynskey R230 Houseblend - Brooks Team Pro
    2007 Rivendell Bleriot - Rivet Pearl

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm sucktastic on the hills too! If I'm really trying hard to keep up on an incline I can experience this as well. Just can't get a deep breath. I moved to Georgia, developed major allergies and have asthma as a result.
    I have to take my Allbuterol inhaler and suck a shot down after the hill to recover. I'd get checked out for asthma or exercise induced asthma.

  10. #40
    Join Date
    May 2007
    San Antonio Heights, CA (Upland)
    I haven't read every reply, but yes, intervals should help. Also, the more you ride, the better you will get. Now that you are pushing yourself more than commuting to work, your body will slowly improve.

    I can relate to sucking wind issues. This was a big deal for me, and still is, but less so. I took some time off during most of December and rode like once a week in January. In February, I started riding a bit more and realized that on hills, I wasn't gasping for air at the top like I used to. I was still breathing harder than most people I ride with, but it was nothing like it used to be. This was SO encouraging. I attribute this to, #1 more riding last year and pushing myself, #2 giving myself a break, thereby coming back stronger and #3, I lost about five pounds (and counting). The less you weigh, the less you have to pull up a hill. I'm not overweight, but at 5'9", I automatically come with more pounds to deal with. I don't want to be a stick, but I'm trying to lose some more weight to help me keep up with my climbing friends.

    Also, when you climb, make sure you're not hunched over in such a way to keep your lungs from being able to be fully filled with air. Keep your shoulders back and, if it's not too steep of a climb, keep your hands on the top of the bars. The steeper the climb, sit back in your saddle to get more use from your glutes and drop your hands to the shifters, but always be aware of how your position is affecting your lungs. I think that is another thing that has helped me. Being conscious of that.

    Riding technique is important too. If you are pedaling efficiently, sitting properly, etc., you'll use less energy, therefore, gasping for air less. So study up on over all riding technique and this should help you with your breathing.

    At a metric century I did last year, my friend and hooked up with a couple of other guys who were going our pace. We ended up doing most of the ride together. On one particularly steep and long hill, one of the guys says, "Okay, here's the plan ... " I'm expecting some great pearl of wisdom to come out of his mouth that will help me with my climbing. But he says, "Just listen to Jen's breathing!" I think my gasping for air was supposed to be a distraction for everyone else and maybe keep them in a good rhythm or something!

    I can't wait to do that ride this year and see how much better I get up that hill. I used to avoid hills like the plague. Now I'm CHOOSING to do hills, because #1 I'm getting better at them and that encourages me and #2 I know I have to keep doing them in order to KEEP getting better. I just did the Solvang Century with 4500 feet of climbing. I did it! I conquered those hills and I'm so proud of myself.

    You will improve with time, but you've gotten a lot of good tips to help you get there.

    2009 Cannondale Super Six High Modulus / SRAM Red / Selle San Marco Mantra

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    St. Louis, MO
    Spinning class over the winter helped a lot with my hills. I can go a lot farther up before I start gasping. And like Jiffer said, hills make you better at hills. My husband started training at the hill mecca in St. Louis--Babler park. He not only got better at hills, but overall faster on the flats.
    "Well-behaved women seldom make history." --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    '09 Trek WSD 2.1 with a Brooks B-68 saddle
    '11 Trek WSD Madone 5.2 with Brooks B-17

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Southern Arizona

    Lightbulb Now for something completely different

    I've been skimming this thread, and while I haven't read every single reply and update, I noticed a few things missing. Namely, no one has addressed technique. By this I mean, breaking up your pedal strokes on your climbs/efforts. Conventional cycling "wisdom" teaches "use the full rotation of the pedal stroke". In other words, when you pedal push down, scrape back, pull up all the time. The largest group of muscles is in the legs: quads, hamstrings and glut's. But how long do you think you could tow a motor home up a steep hill in a Geo Metro? Your body is no different. What if instead of the all torque all the time you break it up? How about scrape (like something nasty is stuck to the toe box of your shoe) back only, and for 10 pedal strokes to start with. Now gently lift your knees (like you have no feet, imagine a string at the top of your knee cap lightly pulling up. BE GENTLE THIS IS A VERY SUBTLE MOVEMENT) Do that for 10 pedal strokes. Oh! and while you do those two pedal strokes turn your hands into hooks and hook the middle of your handle bars, near the stem, while leaning back on the saddle, RELAX. It will feel a bit odd at first, but if you do this correctly you will see two dramatic changes take place: first- all the energy is now in your legs where you need and want it, second- you are very stable on the bike (but it must be a hook made with the fingers) and it's easier to relax. The last pedal stroke is going to involve going 1-2 gears harder and getting out of the saddle. Now all you have to do is push down, let gravity do the rest. Again, try it for 10 pedal strokes. Can't do 10? Do 4, or 5, or whatever works. How do I know this? I have an amazing husband who took me from:a 7 years absence from cycling, 150#, 5'3", 46 yrs old, a part time smoker, and a proud couch potato, who's best AVS (ever) was 13 mph, and the slowest climber on every ride I'd ever done. To: 16 mph AVS, and I just climbed the first 6 miles of Mt Lemmon (5-6% grade over 3,000 ft evelvation gain- after a 4 mile warm up at 19 mph AVS), ladies it took me 22 minutes to get to that 6 mile point, and it was only the second time I've done it. I say that's pretty good for this 47 year old who is still 130#.(BTW got on my bike for the first time in 7 years on 8/10/08, did a 33 mile ride that almost killed me, last to get up every 'hill' and to the turn around point, within 3 weeks I was the staying with the pack, 4 weeks after that I was staying with the leader who races-has raced her whole life- and is about 40# lighter and 7 years younger, AND on EVERY hill) My husband has always said cycling focuses on training and fitness, which are important, but technique can give you an edge that no amount of fitness can beat. He also made me learn to ride rollers. Yes, rollers. I hated it at first but in a hallway, with elbow pads and loud music, I'm a believer! 5 minutes is like an hour of any Spin Class on acid, and you will get strong, fast, fit and have better bike handling skills than you ever imagined! Anyone who rides them has that knowing smile right now.

    I'd also watch, and avoid caffeine before and during your rides. i.e. Energy Gels and Performance Drinks! I noticed every time I got into a climb I felt like my heart was trying to burst through my chest and abandon me by the roadside. Got rid of the caffeine and now I'm fine. Alcohol too, makes your legs ache and/or feel like rubber. Starts depriving muscles of oxygen within the hour and lasts about 24 hrs.
    Add the technique and nutrition tips to all the interval training and spin classes, and you'll soon be a monster on those hills!

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Vancouver WA
    Take some interval spin classes during the week and there is a such thing as exercised induced asthma. I carry an inhaler when I ride up high elevation rides. It helps a ton!

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Dorset, England, UK

    Thumbs up

    Came across this thread by accident but pleased that I did. I might be going very slightly off Topic but I think it is relevant.

    So many of us suffer from asthma, obviously varing degrees.

    When I was 4 years old I was in an iron lung for a while with bronchial pneumonia and recently with this Aspergillosis I wonder if there is anything related.

    Anyway, I came across the following and thought how extremely relevant it was, I apologise in advance if you are all already aware of this.

    Benefits of cycling on physical health

    Cycling releases endorphins in the blood stream that helps in reducing stress and creating a feeling of contentment and happiness.

    Cycling exposes you to sunlight that generates vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

    Cycling helps in improving cardiovascular fitness by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. Cycling 20 miles per week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease to less than half.

    It increases joint movement and therefore, reduces the risk of arthritis by strengthening joints. Cycling motion can strengthen knees by providing nourishment that builds up cartilage.

    Being an aerobic workout, it helps pump in more oxygen in the lungs, thereby making then stronger. It combats the danger of acquiring respiratory ailments.

    Cycling increases the production of cells that attack bacteria and strengthens the immune system.

    The sweat generated during cycling helps you get rid of various toxins present in your body, leaving you with a healthier skin and body.

    The red comments, I felt were very important for me. After reading this I have so pushed myself but it has paid off. My energy levels and strength are much improved, I try and not attack hills, it is all good. 4 weeks ago I was riding a mile per day, now in the last 4 days have managed almost 50 miles.

    Am now going to try and find out about spinning classes, phew, there's a first for everything.

    Last edited by ClockworkOrange; 06-25-2009 at 03:53 PM.

    Orange Clockwork - Limited Edition 1998

    ‘Enjoy your victories of each day'

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    New Zealand

    Good points here

    Hi all,

    I've also done a skim of this thread re breathing up hills.
    All good stuff and good points raised.
    Technique is a huge key this both with your legs and your breathing.
    Spin classes will help a lot if the ground work is done at the same time in that rather than go for 'lung busting' workouts you'll also need to get some strength out of the home trainer too.
    Even doing 5 minutes 'on' in the biggest gear you can turn in a circle (not push push push) at about 60 - 70 revs with no hard breathing at all then 5 minutes off in a little recovery gear x 3 repeats 2 -3 times per will see strength results in approx. 3 - 4 weeks guaranteed! You might be in one of the smallest gears on the bike doing this but who cares, you gotta start your strength somewhere!
    This will help with the lung busting stuff because you can't build a breathing base unless you have some strength first.

    On the bike, up the hills try just riding up the hill in a small gear pedalling a high but comfortable rev but without breathing hard at all. If you're breathing you're going too hard so slow down. This way all the air coming into the body is being used to go to the muscles efficiently versus going into the build up of lactic acid 'cos you're breathing to hard. Might not seem like it but it's a bit of a strength exercise in that you're still having to turn your pedal in a circle and go up a hill but you're using the lungs / legs super well and getting max benefit.
    The other way up the hill in training is the same as the home trainer exercise. hands on the drops in race position (a must because it works all ya bum as well as all your legs too!) biggest gear you can turn (not push push but circles) at 50 -70 revs without any hard breathing. Again if you're breathing change gear to an easier one.
    You'll notice that after a while you'll be able to go to a bigger gear and be comfy with it and then on the bunch rides you can approach the hills in a gear where you have good cadence with little pressure on the pedals and keep up better.
    The most important thing to remember when climbing (other than technique) is to concentrate on your breathing by keeping it steady and regular.
    Also, practice breathing through your diaphram rather than keeping it all in your chest. Get way more oxygen on board and way bigger, more relaxed breaths using this method.
    Hope this helps and remember it all takes time but I've found in the past that one of the best ways to get good on hills is to ride hills!

    thanks for listening,




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