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Newbie who can't breath

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Newbie who can't breath

Old 10-08-04, 09:58 AM
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Newbie who can't breath

Well here it is,

Iím about as new at this as can be with a whole two months of biking under my belt (leaving aside the scrape your knees up type stuff when I was a kid). In any case, I stand 6í and weight in just over 200lbs. I bought a Gary Fisher mountain last year (entry level) and had a blast but found myself wanting to get a little more of a steady workout and moved from the bush (painful anyways) to more and more street riding, mainly into work (about 25 miles roundtrip). Of course I found myself wanting something a little less bulky. So I picked up my dadís Bianchi Volpe. What a difference. In any case Iím in fairly good shape, avid soccer player for the cardio and trained for the 100m for years. In any case hereís my main problem. So far (in a whole two weeks of riding the parkway) I cruise at roughly 22-23mph for about 15 miles. Now depending on how I feel (my wife and I just had our first baby so a lack of sleep takes away a little energy) I like to give really good pushes for a couple of miles and manage to get to 29-30mph for 2-3 miles.

Hereís the problem, when Iím pushing I get ďdown in the barsĒ if that makes sense (newbie) and after a couple of miles I feel winded, really badly and have to let up. When I do though, I feel like Iíve got a tone of energy left, muscles are warm but arenít burning and I wish I had never sat up. I figured out that my knees are coming up so high into my chest that I cut off my air at half breaths. My seat is the right height (I almost fully extend) and I THOUGHT I was at a good distance from my handlebars (the same distance as set on my mountain bike) but I just donít feel like I can get my breath in. What the heck should I be adjusting? What distance should I sit from my handlebars? At the end of my rides my muscles feel like their ďjust getting thereĒ. Remember I know nothing, so if you tell me to adjust the ionic-flux-capacitator Iíll stare at my screen like a deer caught in headlights.

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Old 10-08-04, 10:02 AM
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Oh ya, I kant spel ethur.

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Old 10-08-04, 10:53 AM
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Without knowing more about your setup try...
  • bending more at the waist instead of your back (if you sit and round your back, you can feel your whole chest/diaphragm/lungs contract vs. keeping your back straighter)
  • move your seat back if you do this and your reach doesn't feel balanced.
  • adjusting your reach is sometimes a combination of a longer stem and seat adjustment, because seat adjust does subtly change your position in relation to pedals.
  • are you the same general shoulder width as your dad? Sometimes when bars are too narrow for you, you have that same constricting feeling of not being able to get a full breath.
Just some thoughts...good luck

Last edited by Steelrider; 10-08-04 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 10-08-04, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Trix
My seat is the right height (I almost fully extend) and I THOUGHT I was at a good distance from my handlebars...
Sounds to me like your bars might be too low. I am not an expert but if you have the post out the whole way and are leaning way over you may just need the bars to be higher. How much lower than the saddle is the top of your bars?
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Old 10-08-04, 11:22 AM
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It sounds to me like your cardio-vascular system's conditioning needs to catch up to that of your muscles. (Think about the weight-lifter that can pick up 500 lbs, but is out of breath in less than a half-mile of running.) Just keep doing what you're doing--or better, do intervals.
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Old 10-08-04, 12:31 PM
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In addition to what's already been suggested, I've found that the width of the handlebars can adversly affect my breathing. If they're too narrow, I feel like I can't fully extend my chest and inhale deeply.

Handlebars should be at least the width of your shoulders. Sizes are usually measured in centimeters.
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Old 10-08-04, 02:54 PM
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"Sounds to me like your bars might be too low. I am not an expert but if you have the post out the whole way and are leaning way over you may just need the bars to be higher. How much lower than the saddle is the top of your bars?"

Are your knees/thighs smacking into / just missing the bottom of your rib cage? Sounds like the bars are too low.

MTBer's tend to complain that the high-level efforts of roadies are too long. You don't have those built-in breaks through the twisty stuff when you are on a road bike.
When I was younger I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of the bikes of good racers. I noticed that the top of the bars was almost always level with the top of the round part of the seatpost.

Of course this supposes that your saddle is already at the right height, and that the bars are not too far away, but it is a good place to start.

There seems to be a whole new breed of professional bike racer now, and somehow some of them seem to get and keep their bars much lower in relation to the saddle than in the past. I think this is something I could not do.
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Old 10-08-04, 06:21 PM
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i had the same problem and one of the guys here i think it was maj taylor suggested bending at the pelvis rather than at the gut and back and i did it and my problem was solved. just a thought. O and thanx major T
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Old 10-08-04, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by sizmaters
i had the same problem and one of the guys here i think it was maj taylor suggested bending at the pelvis rather than at the gut and back and i did it and my problem was solved. just a thought. O and thanx major T
You're quite welcome. I'm pleased to hear it helped.
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Old 10-08-04, 09:06 PM
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Ride on the hoods to open up your chest a little.
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