A conversation on the bike yesterday led me to this blog post. It went something like this:
Me: Hey, do you ever get to the point where your breathing is right on the edge of losing control of it?
Riding Buddy: No, I guess I’m not pushing hard enough.
I can confirm that the riding buddy in question can push hard, so it must be something else.
I don’t wear a HR monitor much these days, so I know what kind of effort I’m doing by a) looking at my power meter, and, b) being aware of my breathing. When cycling my ‘breathing scale’ goes something like this:
- Easy. Can talk all day, or at least till my bum starts to hurt.
- Limited to short paragraphs. Philosophical discussions become difficult.
- One sentence at a time. I’m usually looking at my stem by now.
- Hard, deep breathing. This usually relates to around my FTP.
- Then there’s this one: Hard, fast, shallow. I can hold this for my 20 min FTP test. I also remember being in this zone of hideous pain for a long, long time on the TT day of Haute Route in 2013, up Bonette. I’m not one to lose many body fluids when I ride, but this is when I start to drool. I feel like Tony Martin looks.
Beyond this level it’s mostly anaerobic and breathing becomes totally uncontrollable.
I guess that time trialists would understand this experience more than most. Triathletes, too, I suppose. For efforts like my usual objectives (Etapes, Haute Route) it’s pretty rare to have to go this deep and I’m not complaining about that at all. I get nauseous just thinking about it. Do any of you have much experience with this sort of thing? I hope so because Tony Martin probably won’t answer my calls.
8 thoughts on “Gasping for Air: The Edge of Hyperventilation”
Usually on ultra steep (for me) hills
I think it’s just you and me, Fossil…
I have in the past but this year is a bit better. When I start getting to that danger zone, I look for a place to hide till I can come back a bit… And I practice exhaling fully, then letting my lungs fill without forcing it. It’s been awesome.
I do the same thing, but there’s a point at which it becomes faster, at least for me. I think it’s just on the cusp of that ‘danger zone’.
Yeah, though I call that the “drop zone”… I own two companies, I’m a husband and a dad. I’m too old for the Danger Zone, Sterling.
BTW… Gerry, I know you’re in France – did you get the “Sterling” reference? I know I was taking a chance there so I wanted to make sure you “got it”. I don’t know if they air Archer in your neck of the woods.
On two occasions, I started tasting blood in my mouth because I was breathing too hard. One was a TT, incidentally. It had everything to do with not sufficiently warming up (not at all, actually) and nothing to do with anything else… Just a silly mistake.
I still remember the feeling of my heart coming out of my throat when climbing Galibier because of breathing, but I still blame the giant lunch for any and all trouble I had on Galibier.
HUH.. I just climbed Mt. Baldy in California… average of 345 watts, eating a bacon sandwich, red wine in my bidon reciting Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a climbing buddy…whats wrong with you?