Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Remember to Breathe When Cycling, Ondine


Just when I had vowed off of cloud pictures forever...

Ondine's Curse is a rare condition where the autonomic function of breathing fails, and breathing becomes purely conscious. Sleeping, or otherwise just getting tired or forgetting to breathe, for those with this condition, also known as Central Hypoventilation Syndrome, causes obvious and serious complications. The tie-in with the Little Mermaid is interesting, but distracting to my topic. 

I don't have the curse, but in taking up a meditation technique known as breath counting, I have gained more focus on the autonomic function of breathing than I've ever had before. Yesterday, when a distracted man in a shiny Mercedes clearly failed to notice me in the intersection and started forward right at me until I yelled at him, my breath caught (paused) and my heart raced. This is a natural stress fight-or-flight reaction, or part of it, but was in that situation counterproductive to my goal of yelling my head off at him to gain his attention so that his son propped in prime viewing position in the car seat in the back didn't have to watch his distracted dad slaughter a cyclist with his two ton killing machine.

Also, while mountain biking, I've noticed that my breath also catches just when I need it not to, as I am looking ahead to a sketchy or steep section of trail. Smooth, even breathing, accompanied by smooth, even riding, is what I need just then, not a catch of breath and a dump of fear. But that's what often happens. 

I don't think I need Ondine to remind me to keep breathing. Rather, I think I need a counterforce to remind me to relax and breathe easy. Like clouds. Keep that pulse, and pulse ox, dead steady. This made me wonder: do others think about breathing while cycling?
  

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