Stupid Flatlander Needs Advice on Riding at Altitude

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by 82zman, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. 82zman

    82zman New Member

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    In an act of adventure or foolishness (depending on how you look at it) I signed up for the Mt. Evans hill climb in Colorado that starts at about 7500 ft and climbs to over 14k. I live and train near Chicago which is a mere 750ft. I figured Mt Evans would be cold and maybe a little harder to breath but the more research I did on this I am now concerned about Altitude Sickness. I am fairly fit right now and just finished climbing Mt. Mitchell in NC fairly easily but it starts about 1500 ft and finishes at about 6500 ft.

    I can get to the ride no more than a day or two before so my question is would it be better to show up the night before or two nights before. I read something somewhere that if you cannot spend a week acclimating(and I cannot) then show up as close as you can to the starting time.

    [FONT=&quot]Does anyone out there have experience with training at low altitude and then attempting an event at high altitude? Insights greatly appreciated[/FONT]
     
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  2. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    To get use to that altitude you need about 3 days for normal activity.Geeting to where you can do intense levels of physical takes quite a bit longer depending on the individual and the symptoms vary.
     
  3. Eldrack

    Eldrack New Member

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    Altitude sickness is a potential problem anywhere over 10,000 feet so yes, that climb is in the problem zone. If you feel any symptoms of altitude sickness during the ride turn straight around and descend. Alive and failing to finish is better than dying part way to the summit.

    As JH said, acclimatisation is helpful. If you can find somewhere to stay that's 10,000 feet or so stay there for the two days before the race.

    Finally, your power output at altitude is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than at sea level.

    How does altitude affect power output? | Two Wheel Blogs

    You're starting at 7000 feet, or around 90% of your FTP. By the time you hit the summit your FTP will be 70% of what it was. So take it easy! Real easy. Since this is your first race at altitude I wouldn't worry about your time (hard for competitive people like us I know), just take it easy and finish without keeling over. Then next year you'll have a much better idea of how hard you can do it.

    Oh! And one last thing. Definitely not stupid for doing this! A challenge like this is always fun :). Good luck.
     
  4. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    You need to do as much aerobic work as you can ...

    Also, do a lot of wind sprints to open up your lungs as much as possible ...

    Then, do more aerobic work!
    If you live in-or-near the northern suburbs, then head to Sheridan Road & ride a loop which goes through the "ravines" between Tower Road & County Road as many times as you can ... going north, it's a fairly hard left hand turn at the bottom. You can add a short hill by starting the loop just south of Tower.
    If you are using Shimano shifters, then give serious consideration to changing them to 10-speed (non-QS) Campagnolo shifters -- Campagnolo shifters won't balk when you are downshifting to a larger cog when the drivetrain is under load ...

    You should probably anticipate needing a largest cog that is 8t more than you are currently using -- really.

    Don't hesitate to put an 11-32 cassette on your bike ... the 32t may-or-will provide you with a welcome bail-out gear!
     
  5. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I will add that the last time I was at 13000' I got very ill on the third day and got winded so easily I felt like a 90 year old.
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I live at 100ft and just completed a 200 mile event that spent most over the day over 7,000ft with some of the 8 passes getting close to 9,000... but there's a significant difference between 9,000 and 14,000ft. One year, I showed upto a similar event several days before and performed significantly worse than I had if I'd showed up late the day before...

    But, everyone is different so, as they say, your mileage may vary.

    Gearing is key. There's a big difference between a 8% slope at 5000ft and one at 8,500ft when it comes to perceived effort. Transpose that to 14,000ft and what once, at near sea level may not seem too bad, becomes an a$skicker. Look at using a 4 tooth bigger sprocket as a bail out gear, so if a 25 is what you'd use normally on a similar grade at sealevel then a 30 tooth bottom may be your friend. IRD and SRAM (XX mountain) offer 10 speed cassettes that will provide a 32 tooth bottom (will require long cage MTB rear mech but works well with 10speed STI levers). IRD do one that has a 30 (should work with Shimano standard road rear mech) but has a funky gear spacing for the bottom 3 gears - 25,28,30 IIRC. The SRAM XX cassette is a CNC milled MTB version of the SRAM Red but for mountain bikes and is significantly lighter than the all steel IRD - but, unless you're in the 6% bodyfat range I wouldn't worry about the added weight too much.

    Go have fun and take the challenge and try and pace well. If you feel overly dizzy or nauseous - STOP. If you feel disorientated do not try to ride downhill. Sit down, wait for a course marshall or SAG to show up and take it from there. 14,000ft isn't in the altitude range than something really bad should happen to a fit guy, but stupidly riding into something or off the side of a big drop at speed will. :pYou'll likely be fine and the only effects following the climb will be intense pain and exhaustion.

    One point to remember is that you tend to dehydrate faster at altitude. The day before the event drink a little more and if you can, space that extra fluid out evenly throughout the day. Avoid alcohol while at altitude the days before the event too. It might be colder out, due to the elevation, but remember to use some sunscreen too. A good dose of sunburn the day before will also lend itself to being a little dehydrated in addition to being uncomfortable.
     
  7. AshesGlory

    AshesGlory New Member

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    I would want to arrive 2 nights before. Here is an article on this very subject. The Science of Sport: Altitude: Arriving and adapting
    Good luck and you are not alone. I have a friend from TN competing in the citizens category.
     
  8. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    • Be sure to stay hydrated. Dehydration makes you more susceptible to AMS, HAPE, and HACE.
    • Gingko biloba 80-120mg/day has been shown in some studies to prevent AMS or reduce the severity of its effects (headache, nausea, lassitude, sleep disruptions...). It might be worth considering.
    • Make sure to get sufficient sleep. Fatiuge/lack of sleep can make you more susceptible.
    • I'd advise staying somewhere at a lower altitude to insure good rest and good sleep.
    • Being at altitude unaclimatized can cause some breathing derangements (Cheyne-Stokes respiration, for one) during sleep which will definitely challenge you to sleep. Once I spent a couple of nights on mountain with Cheyne-Stokes breathing going on and it was, uhm, unnerving to say the least.
     
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