Thinking About Breathing While Riding Cygnet Coast Road

First, appreciation: Cygnet Coast Road is my favorite OL ride. Although Sir @michael.cotty is irreplaceable ("Just look at the view! Come on!!) and perhaps no one else could make me climb as many mountains as he has, there’s just something about CCR. The quick,unpredictable intervals are so like real life and the time goes by in a flash, so I never get bored and feel I can repeat this one over and over. Perhaps I like that it’s a physical challenge similar to racing without the competition (which is a turnoff for me). And I love hearing Nicole Frain’s self-talk through a workout that’s obviously part of her personal training routine. It’s a nice glimpse into the mindset of a pro rider. Thanks, Systm, for the magic and more, please!

Now to my breathing thoughts: So while I’m riding, my HR gets into the appropriate zone and I’m definitely pushing up the inclines, but it’s not exactly killing me. And from the very start all the way to the finish, I can hear Nicole breathing twice as fast as me. While still being able to speak. So I’m wondering:
a) Has the workout been scaled down such that I’m not supposed to be working as hard as she is?
b) Is she using some breathing technique that I don’t know about?
c) Have I been sandbagging on my HM tests?
d) Have I ever in my life breathed that fast for that long?!?

I also noticed this on the UCI: Road video. Of course, she’s going as fast as she can (and getting a QOM) and I’m…differently motivated to say the least. But it still makes me wonder.


I did the OL Cygnet Coast Road session yesterday for the second time, and I absolutely loved it. Super session that flies by, and it is very engaging with Nicole’s great commentary. The KICKR Climb integration is fantastic, and adds a lot of fun.

I too found the session relatively easy, and my heart rate only ventured into Zone 4 a few times. Then again, my 4DP rider profile is “Attacker”, and this type of session plays into my strengths.


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I noticed this as well on the UCI Road video.

I would rule out sandbagging it on the HM tests, although it is possible that if you are not testing frequently enough, the ride is “too easy” for your actual fitness. That has happened to me in the past. An exercise seems not as hard as it should be, and a HM a few days later shows an increase in MAP and FTP.

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So, I expect it’s this but of course I don’t know. My HR stayed generally a zone level low for a lot of the efforts until there was cumulative affect, but I did find the slightly longer short climb efforts taxing and it generally felt like a very good workout. Great video IMHO.

Agreed with another poster on the climb integration (for me on the KICKR Bike).

It may very well be the difference between an elite athlete and an amateur enthusiast like myself (ourselves?).

One very OLD trainer video that made a huge impression on me 10-12 years ago was a Vision Quest video where Robbie Ventura was riding what I think was a USA National Criterium Race with a helmet cam (and it was probably a HandyCam camera size, this was pre-GoPro) with other riders attempting to supply lead and follow cams where possible. I was flabbergasted as his heart rate went from about 40 bpm to 200+ bpm in maybe 8-10 seconds off the start line. He then proceeds to talk to the camera mid-race as he moves up in the pack and dive bombs corners where I would have been passed out and dead from any similar effort. IIRC, he was already retired as a pro-racer when this race video was made.


So, funny story. I was riding along the Cygnet coast road (in real life!) one day thinking about how we needed to do On Location Tasmania (it was Covid times and I couldn’t travel outside of AUS and Mike Cotty couldn’t do any filming in Europe). I had ridden the coast road while sprinting up every hill a few weeks beforehand in an attempt to replicate Violator and figured it would make an awesome session. As I rode, I also thought we should have a female host and that the local rider Nicole Frain would be a great option.

Well, lo-and-behold, not a few kilometers later I hear a bike coming up behind me quite quickly and passing me not a second later – it was Nicole! We’d never met before, so I called her name and introduced myself and (after getting her to slow down a bit) explained what SYSTM was all about and what I was thinking. She was game!

Between then and filming, she went and won the Australian National Championships, which was pretty awesome and then finished 2nd in the Tour Down Under (where we filmed her ProRides series and which is also awesome). The Cygnet Coast Road ride was filmed in one day, including all the tourist features (the artist Matt Calvert is also a very good cyclist). Nicole normally does a big loop from Hobart down toward Cygnet, but the coast road isn’t one she had done very often, so it was a rather new experience for her and one she absolutely nailed (she actually rode the 45k down to Cygnet before the ride to ‘warm-up.’).

As for the breathing - two things: 1) I suspect your MAP targets aren’t as high as they should be and 2) Nicole never took it easy on the descents. If you look closely, you’ll see she’s still pushing hard! So she never recovers quite as much as we do when doing the video.


Great story! Makes my day!

I suppose now I need to repeat the workout, pushing on the descents. After a HM retest.


I haven’t done this one yet, but did PR Tour de Suisse Women 3 and it made me feel good that Clara was breathing as hard as I was :slight_smile: I really enjoy the PR, OL, and SUF rides and I like having the variety.


Great story! It makes me think more of an idea where some Behind the Scenes video workouts would be great. I’m curious on how the various types of videos get made across SF, OL, PR, AW and it may be fun to do a workout that includes some of this behind the scenes, outtakes, or other stuff…


BTW: Follow Nicole on Strava as she tackles the Pro peloton in Europe: Strava Pro Cyclist Profile | Nicole Frain


:+1: Great back story, great video, impressive it was all shot in a day. Did this by accident the other week (had intended to do a challenge one) and it’s now definitely a favourite, the scenery and route is gorgeous, area sounds great.
I’ve pre-warned the family before that if we end in up Tasmania, next time we’re visiting rellies in that part of the world, I May Never Leave. This vid really hasn’t helped that :grin:


You may be interested in reading both “The Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown and also “Breath” by James Nestor. They kind of redefined my approach to breathing while exercising…


I will check it out! Thank you.

That is a GREAT story!

:smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Will try to think these happy thoughts when I ride it for the first time this afternoon…


Enjoy! It’s a LOT of fun!

First time?! This is SUCH A GREAT RIDE!


Yeah, COVID cost me six weeks of shiny new toys…



Yeh. That sucks. About the same for me.Only a few days of a really bad cough and feeling blech but over a month of residual congestion and fatigue. So far, no return since April last year :crossed_fingers:t2:


Really enjoyed the story-behind-the-story. That said, I just rode Cygnet Coast and, as a time trialling kind of guy, found it pretty hard as the constant changes rattled my brain. And because it is the Land Down Under and things are reverse, like the direction of water going down the sink, Nicole kept saying “Ready?” when it was recovery (for those, what, 8 seconds?) rather than for acceleration. It went very quickly, however, and I felt the need for Italian food afterwards. :blush:


Sounds about right.

The Tassie series are really, really good. Nicole is a real ledge.


Similar experience in the tour de suisse 1. I could clearly hear Jasha sütterling happily chatting to the other laughing bunch riders whilst I was wondering where I had left my suitcase of courage!!! :luggage: :mountain_snow: :biking_man: