Back to normal

This is the longest I’ve gone without writing for years! A few days after the “étape du tour” it became clear that I was coming down with a summer cold/flu type bug – which finally explained much of my unexpected troubles on the étape. This bug wasn’t the worst cold or anything – but it knocked the stuffing out of me in terms of energy levels. Three weeks later I was still coughing up stuff with the lungs clearing. The cycling season had started off badly and seemed determined to continue that way. Getting back on the bike after about two weeks there was no strength. Slowly that has returned and now I’m back to being my normal masochistic self again – but not fully up to speed on the bike yet. Had a visit from this giant fly yesterday. If anyone knows what it is please tell me… (The green border is almost an inch wide) It’s spooky having all of those eyes looking at you. Did two tough workouts in the past three days – from Bourg St Maurice up to the Col de l’Isèran and back – about 100km round trip with 2000m climbing up to 2775m altitude – and one loop through the Tarantaise valley and through Albertville then up to Beaufort and over the Cormet de Roselend – about 116km and almost 3000m climbing. The Col de l’Isèran was the same as usual – very weird! It was boiling hot in the valley but freezing just at the summit with ice still lying close to the road side. I call this spot the “Bermuda Triangle” because the weather is a distinct and permanent micro climate that doesn’t seem to belong there. Often the mechanics and electrics (GPS, Heart rate monitors) on a bike just stop working here.  The Beaufort workout was tough today due to tiredness from the previous high altitude climb – but that made it an interesting challenge. Managed to avoid looking at the results for Wiggo in the Olympic time trail when I got home and so was able to see the whole thing properly on catch-up TV on the internet. It’s mind boggling how fast those guys go. I have his two published books and have been a “believer” in him for several years now. Suddenly all of those who were not really recognising his capacity are all over him as if they’ve been behind him all the time! I’m glad he is finally getting the respect he deserves – but he needs to slow down so that the rest of us don’t get so depressed with our times.


I managed the entire 5hr 5minute workout today nasal breathing. Normally that would have fizzled out by the latest at the climb up to 2000m over the Cormet de Roselend – but today was breakthrough day for breathing. It’s been bugging me for some time how uncomfortable nasal breathing can be during really strenuous effort. You can feel like you are suffocating and eventually have to revert to breathing through the open mouth. Early on I learned to sort of grunt when exhaling through the nose. I don’t know why but it’s a hard habit to avoid or stop once you discover it – perhaps a bit like tennis players grunting. This noise accompanies a relaxing that takes place during the exhalation – in contrast to a strongly forced inhalation. I know that singers and divers are taught that for good breathing technique you need to focus on forcing the exhalation and not the inhalation – because the exhalation is not reflexive but the inhalation is. For some reason that had never felt right for me, until today! I started forcing the air out of the nostrils even harder than the inhalation – and suddenly I didn’t have to breathe in so hard and all of the “suffocation” disappeared along with the grunting. The entire climb was done this way and at no point was there any feeling of breathlessness even with the heart up at 164 bpm. There was no tendency to start to sneak in breathes through the mouth from time to time. I could feel the reflexive inhalations and the fact that they didn’t need to be too big either. Big breathes seem to be a compensation for not exhaling properly and the system not functioning efficiently. Perhaps I can cross this over to my swimming now that I feel it – because there I have even bigger breathing problems!

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