Why is their a "G" in diaphragm?

I was out with a client this week and he was looking for some help on climbing trail. Before we met, I asked him what his specific concerns were and his response was about how he gets tired and stalls out.

His description was pretty vague and left me worrying about how I would approach this problem. Add to the fact that here was a person on a budget and he worried about return on investment. Of course I want to be sure I can offer a quality product and his worry kind of had me a little nervous about being able to provide something tangible. Plus he could only afford an hour. Talk about a challenge!

I'm happy to say I feel like we made great progress within that hour! What we ended up working on were a few important techniques that many people don't think about, which will improve their riding and performance immensely.

1. After talking more extensively about the issues, it became apparent that the real issue was planning for the upcoming climbs. Specifically choosing a good gear going into the climb and shifting in a controlled, gradual manner that allowed him to find a good rhythm.

As you come into a climb it's important to anticipate gear choice, otherwise you'll find yourself trying to shift too many gears at once or suddenly trying to push a gear that is too big. The second scenario leads to stalling out on the steep climbs. If you're in too easy of a gear going too fast into a steep climb you loose balance and control.

You can practice good technique by approaching a steep hill at different speeds and effort levels then trying to match the effort you were putting out on the flats to the one going up the hill. The important distinction is to match effort levels, not speed. This might mean you feel like you are going very slow at first, but the goal is to have greater awareness of pedal feel and the balance you gain by having just the right amount of pressure on the pedals.

When it comes to shifting, think of it as the opposite of when you are transitioning to the the flats from a climb. As you come over the top, you don't generally dump a lot of gears and sprint. As you pick up speed, you start shifting one gear at a time as you go faster to match a comfortable cadence. Now reverse that when going up a hill. As you slow down you shift up one gear at a time. The initial "prediction" shift might be a couple gears, but the remaining shifting is best done one at a time. If you shift to too easy of a gear, click down one at a time while soft pedaling at a comfortable cadence until the gear catches up to your feet. It's always easier to click down while soft pedaling then shifting up while under load.

Practice this for a week and you'll notice you're finding the right gear more often and climbing smoother than ever.

2. One of the other important elements we worked on was breathing and pace. Specifically keeping the diaphragm from being closed off. I can demonstrate to you right now how this works. Try to touch your chin to your belly button. Of course you can't do this, but it demonstrates that as you arch your back you close off your diaphragm and make breathing more difficult. A lot of time, when people are on the bike they have an arch in their bike. Your mother would tell you this is bad posture when standing in church, and I assure you it's bad posture on the bike.

If you bend more from the hips, keep your chin pointing forward and let the shoulders relax, it will be easier to breath when riding your bike up big climbs. You can still get a low center of gravity without reducing the oxygen to your body!

Those are just a couple of the things we were able to improve in the hour that we had together. Over-all I felt very good about the session, as did my client.

Originally when he was a little unsure about the value of an hour lesson (I'm cheaper than most), I realized the best argument for investing in a lesson was that unlike buying a new lighter bike part, a lesson doesn't wear out. It only gets better with use. It's worth being more comfortable and happier on the bike, which leaders to better performance.

I still don't know why there is a "G" in diaphragm.


  1. Great info Harlan.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Sounds familiar.happy easter