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Breathing in the drops

Old 07-05-12, 06:20 PM
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Breathing in the drops

So something I have been working on lately is riding in the drops. As I believe is common with most bid guys this is not always the easiest thing. I've found at least in the short run the most difficult thing for me is getting enough air. My chest just is not as open as it is when I'm on the tops. Is this just a matter of losing the gut (I'm 5' 10" currently 275) or is it something that is learned over time? Is there anything I can do now to help with this?

Riding on the local MUP today I was headed back to the parking lot when I came up behind two riders who were on their way back from their ride. They were going a little slower than I had been so I announced my presence and that I was passing. One of them light heatedly says "you know you're gonna have to pull us now right?" and I was like "sure jump on." Given the circumstance I decided to have some fun and dialed it up to 400w (as 41 as that sounds according to this it is true I held 22 mph average for the last 1.25 miles: https://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm). No I didn't drop them, but that wasn't really my goal, I just wanted to go hard. It was a lot of fun, but I can't help thinking that if I was in the drops I could have gone even faster, about 25 mph according to that calculator. I didn't try it because I was working heard and didn't want to risk losing any air.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wfournier
Is this just a matter of losing the gut (I'm 5' 10" currently 275)
IME yes, it is. Bike fit/stem angle and length play a role as well, but mostly for fine tuning. In the meantime, stay on the hoods but bend your elbows as close to 90 degrees as you can. You'll gain some of the aero advantages of the drops without all the breathlessness.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:38 PM
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as a skinny guy that wandered over here i would say it may be a combination of both. when you are in the drops are you bringing your elbows in? if you are it could be making it harder to breath. as i said i cant speak from experience (6' 1" 175lbs), but i often do my climbing from the drops and rarely feel that breathing is my limiting factor. i cant help but think extra weight would cause restrictions.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:46 PM
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how much drop are you currently running? raising your bars (or installing ones with a shallower drop) so the hooks are just a little lower than your your hoods are now may be a happy compromise. keep in mind it would be a step back if you still stay on the hoods.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:50 PM
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It's your gut...if getting in the drops means your gut is compressing, or even hitting your legs, that's the issue.

And 400 watts for any sustained period, is pretty massive for a Clyde. I had intervals today where I was suppose to average 215 watts for 12 minutes with a 5 minute rest between the intervals...I couldn't imagine a 400 watt average for 12 minutes (for me anyway)
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Old 07-05-12, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by thirdgenbird
how much drop are you currently running? raising your bars (or installing ones with a shallower drop) so the hooks are just a little lower than your your hoods are now may be a happy compromise. keep in mind it would be a step back if you still stay on the hoods.
I'm running Soma highway one bars that are a "short and shallow bar" with 75mm of reach and 130mm of drop. From the back of the saddle (highest part) to the top of the bars there is a 3.5" drop.

Originally Posted by vesteroid
It's your gut...if getting in the drops means your gut is compressing, or even hitting your legs, that's the issue.

And 400 watts for any sustained period, is pretty massive for a Clyde. I had intervals today where I was suppose to average 215 watts for 12 minutes with a 5 minute rest between the intervals...I couldn't imagine a 400 watt average for 12 minutes (for me anyway)
Well it was hardly 12 minutes, looks like more like 3:20, but I want to keep working at that. I've been thinking about some more structured training, and I need to make myself work. I feel like I have a bad habit that I can't get myself to give 100% unless I'm trying to catch someone or someone is on my wheel.

I feel like I need to clarify that I do not own a power meter and I am basing this off of the numbers that Sport Tracks is giving me using a plugin to calculate power based on speed, weight, grade and windspeed as well as comparing those numbers to what the other calculator I posted is giving me.

This is what I'm looking at in Sport Tracks:


Last edited by wfournier; 07-05-12 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 07-05-12, 07:20 PM
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do you have any steerer above the stem? it may not hurt to try a little less drop.
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Old 07-05-12, 07:34 PM
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I'm 5'8" and have gone from 252 down to 210. I've also moved from a very upright position to the hoods to aero bars and finally into the drops. I still have quite a bit of belly to lose but I can ride a couple of miles at a time in the drops. The advice I would add to the above is to begin working on core strength. Push ups and crunches seem to do it for me.

As I moved lower, I also rode with my hips rotated more which changed the way my bike fit. It's taken some tweaking along the way to keep comfortable.
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Old 07-05-12, 07:38 PM
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As a 400 pounder I have no input to this thread besides stating the obvious; that my massive gut gets in the way of sustained pedaling in the drops, and are henceforth only used for descents where my speed outpaces my gearing. I would love to be able to eventually use the drops, as my speed seems to increase by about 2mph during the 15-30 seconds I'm able to use them, but I run out of air far too quickly and just don't bother anymore.

Lesigh.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:40 PM
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I was afraid that my gut wouldn't allow me to even use drops which is why I went with a hybrid bike. By the sounds of it I made a mistake
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Old 07-05-12, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfador
I was afraid that my gut wouldn't allow me to even use drops which is why I went with a hybrid bike. By the sounds of it I made a mistake
nah, a hybrid with flat pedals will be great for running around town after you buy a road bike
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Old 07-05-12, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by wfournier
Given the circumstance I decided to have some fun and dialed it up to 400w (as 41 as that sounds according to this it is true I held 22 mph average for the last 1.25 miles:
Wow, I swear I am like the only Clyde without massive power. My 21.7 (near 22) is only a sissy'ish 239 watts

Distance 7.4mi
elevation gain 191ft
Elapsed Time 00:20:24
Average Speed 21.7mi/h
Power 239W

That's according to Strava............https://app.strava.com/rides/7591306#141635163

Maybe I should ride the drops. Nah! I do 99.9% of my riding on the hoods.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz
Wow, I swear I am like the only Clyde without massive power. My 21.7 (near 22) is only a sissy'ish 239 watts

Distance 7.4mi
elevation gain 191ft
Elapsed Time 00:20:24
Average Speed 21.7mi/h
Power 239W

That's according to Strava............https://app.strava.com/rides/7591306#141635163

Maybe I should ride the drops. Nah! I do 99.9% of my riding on the hoods.
Well it's entirely possible that the calculated numbers I'm looking at are bollocks, I guess that's why people say that a power meter is the way to go. I've always heard that this calculator https://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm is one of the most accurate, but I've heard that strava is decently accurate too so who knows.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by thirdgenbird
do you have any steerer above the stem? it may not hurt to try a little less drop.
I've got a quill stem so it can move, however the current stem is up as far as it can go.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wfournier
I've got a quill stem so it can move, however the current stem is up as far as it can go.
if you keep riding you may fit yourself to the bike
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Old 07-06-12, 12:31 AM
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The gut won't help. But the way to ride aerodynamically and breath properly in the drops, if you can do it, is to try to bend at the hips rather than the waist. You rotate your hips forward, keep a flat back,and this allows you to open your chest much more than if you are in a posture in which your back is bent over. It takes practice and some getting used to, and certainly a huge gut will intervene, but that's what you're aiming at.
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Old 07-06-12, 04:43 AM
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When I got my road bike, I always wanted to use my drop but breathing was a problem, hunched back, and my gutt. I wanted to gain a little more areo dymanicness from it but that was not the main reason. I wanted to use the drops to stretch a little and also to give me another hand position so when I was getting the fit right for the 80 mile ride we did together, I raised the stem. PROBLEM SOLVED. I could use the drops, breath, stretch, and another hand position opened up.
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Old 07-06-12, 04:44 AM
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Also, you could use another ring on the stem to make it a little higher.
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Old 07-06-12, 08:01 AM
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try this tip next time. it will seem counter to what you will think you should do to get your gut out of the way.

When in the drops pretend you are trying to stick your belly button out and forward and like you have a superman emblem on your chest that you want to show everyone. What this does is rotate your hips which gives your legs more room to put down more power, it also opens up your diaphragm (chest) to breath better.

First time i tried it i was shocked not by the breathing but the comfort. I have been trying to force myself into habit of doing it all the time riding even on the hoods.
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Old 07-06-12, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz
Wow, I swear I am like the only Clyde without massive power. My 21.7 (near 22) is only a sissy'ish 239 watts
I don't even have any watts.
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Old 07-06-12, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir
As a 400 pounder I have no input to this thread besides stating the obvious; that my massive gut gets in the way of sustained pedaling in the drops, and are henceforth only used for descents where my speed outpaces my gearing. I would love to be able to eventually use the drops, as my speed seems to increase by about 2mph during the 15-30 seconds I'm able to use them, but I run out of air far too quickly and just don't bother anymore.

Lesigh.
Riding in the drops is one of those things that comes for us... I weigh in at 320, and I can go into the drops for an okay period... 5-10 minutes... But then my gut keeps my diaphragm from expanding the entire way and I run out of breath eventually.

Just keep riding, eventually you'll get to the point where you can ride in the drops... and eventually your weight will be less of an issue... and people will tell you to HTFU.
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Old 07-06-12, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by wfournier
So something I have been working on lately is riding in the drops. As I believe is common with most bid guys this is not always the easiest thing. I've found at least in the short run the most difficult thing for me is getting enough air. My chest just is not as open as it is when I'm on the tops. Is this just a matter of losing the gut (I'm 5' 10" currently 275) or is it something that is learned over time? Is there anything I can do now to help with this?

Riding on the local MUP today I was headed back to the parking lot when I came up behind two riders who were on their way back from their ride. They were going a little slower than I had been so I announced my presence and that I was passing. One of them light heatedly says "you know you're gonna have to pull us now right?" and I was like "sure jump on." Given the circumstance I decided to have some fun and dialed it up to 400w (as 41 as that sounds according to this it is true I held 22 mph average for the last 1.25 miles: https://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm). No I didn't drop them, but that wasn't really my goal, I just wanted to go hard. It was a lot of fun, but I can't help thinking that if I was in the drops I could have gone even faster, about 25 mph according to that calculator. I didn't try it because I was working heard and didn't want to risk losing any air.
The way I discovered BF and C&A specifically was as a result of a Google search that I did after suffering what I thought was a heart attack. It turned out to be exactly the problem you described - my gut pressing against my diaphram so that I couldn't get enough air. A visit to the cardiologist and a stress cardiogram later, I discovered that my heart and vascular system were just fine - I was just too effing fat to ride hunched over.

Be careful.

As far as your question is concerned, yes, losing the gut helps a lot and may be your whole solution. I've lost 68 lbs since that happened, my BMI is now finally back in the "normal" range, and I have no problem getting the air into my lungs. Unfortunately, issues with arthritis and stenosis in my neck don't allow me to ride in as aggressive position as I did 15 years ago, but it's still infinitely better than a year ago.
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Old 07-06-12, 01:13 PM
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Will: Heard in another thread that Strava is not accurate in power. just fyi
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Old 07-06-12, 01:26 PM
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I'm surprised nobody has asked about the OP's handlebar width; it's a factor in being able to open up your chest to breathe while in the drops.
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Old 07-06-12, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooper
I'm surprised nobody has asked about the OP's handlebar width; it's a factor in being able to open up your chest to breathe while in the drops.
I guess I assumed he had he proper width but you make a good point.

It may be unorthodox, but have any of you tried dirt drops? They have a shallow drop and are nice and wide at the bottom.
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