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  1. #1
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    Low Landers VS Altitude

    Hey CO Gang,

    Planning a trip to the Breckenridge area in August. I've gotten a ton of great info from the other post about trips this summer, but my question is this, how bad will it be going from low lands (I'm at about 800 feet and my buddies are down around 300 feet above sea level) to riding around Breckenridge? We were going to go right there from Denver, but should we do a day closer to Denver to get acclimated? Would one day even help? We only have 4 days of riding so time is of the essence.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  2. #2
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    Oh yeah, most of the riding will be XC, but we want to do a day at Keystone on the lifts. Should we do that first to help with the altitude?

    We were planning on doing it last to minimize chances of any vacation ruining injuries at the beginning. We had one guy break his arm on Porcupine Rim our second day in Moab last trip.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  3. #3
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    recommendations

    1) Water - drink lots, bring lots on your ride.

    2) Advil (ibuprofen) - bring it, use it as necessary.

    3) Alcohol - abstain, maybe completely during your trip or at least until the end of the trip.

    4) As you mentioned, do a ride closer to the front range (Denver) prior to traveling up I-70. It may help.

    5) Get lots of rest at night.

    Change in altitude affects everyone differently. Some people who live here still get altitude sickness when traveling up to higher elevations. Acclimation to the altitude varies from person to person. Some people acclimatize within 3 days. Others take a week or more.

    My 2 cents worth. Have fun!

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    Rolling
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    The best thing you can do is arrive in Denver, sleep a day.

    Go to Breck and ride, then return to Denver and sleep.

    You cannot really acclimatize in a short time . But since the most important thing is sleeping at low altitude, you can actually do that.

    However, that might not be reasonable so just go for it and see. Do as above and take the pain killers and avoid the booze.


    That said, I have ridden with many fit lowlanders visiting here and they did fine as far as I could tell. So being fit really helps.

    People from low altitude come here all the time to ski so it can't be an epidemic.

    I normally live at 5000 feet but have flown in unpressurized planes at 14000 feet with no problem...but got loopy at 15000 feet after only 15 minutes of flying with no oxygen.

    "four of spades"

    Last edited by lidarman; 05-14-2008 at 10:40 PM.

  6. #6
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    Easiest way is for all of you to sleep in oxygen tents for a month prior to going out.
    -no alcohol.....yea right....
    but really hydrate constantly BUT NOT just water, can u say hyponatremia kemosabi, cut you riding time and effort 20% and make less epic after only a couple of days they will all seem epic. Exhaustion will take you shall we say down real fast. Elevate.....slow to prevent the bends.
    See people make the same mistakes over and over without getting it.

  7. #7
    MTB B'dos
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    As a fellow "flat lander" who did this last year I think I can give an honest idea - YOU WILL THINK YOU ARE ALMOST PERMANENTLY GUT PUNCHED AND SUCKING FOR WIND. Seriously if you're above 7k that's pretty much how it'll feel once you need to get the aerobic system going. Didn't really feel like it too bad when I did the Laramie race which was held between 7,500-8600ft, but taking 9 hours I think says yes it did. Over that altitude you will actually feel it BIG TIME, get into your granny and you may be thin king "WTF why do my legs feel like they did when I hit a hill for the 1st time when Istarted riding?"

    My advice.....ride slower, enjoy the scenery and just know that in the tech stuff when climbing you will not have it aerobically like you do at sea level.

    If you want cold hard facts, here they are AFAIK.........your HR will drop by about 15-20% depending on the altitude. The oxygen available over 5k feet is way less, about 15+% less and gets much worse over 10k ft. When I did my tallying for riding in Leadville last year, I figured I lost as much as 25-30% of the normal oxygen my body was accustomed to getting because of the lowered HR and lower oxygen content of the air. And just so you have an idea of fitness - I had in about 3,500 miles of decent training in prep for doing the Laramie 70 mile and Leadville 100 miler. I live at an altitude of 1100ft or less. Almost forgot, at these altitudes temps are way cooler than sea level so make sure to take along some warmer clothing and be ready for super low humidity levels, dry nose etc.

    Oh and the advice above - loads of water, rest and cut out alcohol spot on. Also consider easing up on tea or coffee if you're a big drinker.

  8. #8
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    I came out here from Sea Level and I thought I was about to Die, Went to Thunder Valley to ride my crf250 and I thought my bike had the brakes dragging and 1 Lung working

    Got rid of the 250 for a 450 and adjusted to the altitude after a week or 2.
    Pretty brutal for awhile.
    How would you like to be an egg?
    You only get laid once.
    You only get eaten once.
    It takes four minutes to get hard.
    Only two minutes to get soft.
    You share your box with 11 other guys
    But worst of all..
    the only chick that ever sat on
    your face was your mother!!!
    So cheer up, Your life ain't that bad!!!!

  9. #9
    zrm
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    Altitude effects everyone differently. It's more physiology than fitness. So you may be fine or you may suffer, you won't know till you get here. Spending a day and night in Denver or anywhere else below 6000' will help. After you get to Breck, look for easy rides at first; there are Lot's of gut busting climbs around Summit County, but there are easier rides too. The first day might be a good one to do the gravity slave thing at Keystone.

    Sports drinks like gatorade with electrolytes will help. As others have said, booze is NOT your friend when you are acclimating. (If you can't go 2-3 days without alcohol you have bigger problems than altitude sickness) Diamox can also be helpful and most local doctors will prescribe it if you are having problems that a normal acclimatization period doesn't cure. Just take it easy at first and odds are you'll be fine, most people loose all symptoms of AMS after a day or two.

  10. #10
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Over the years I have had many friends come to CO for a visit and trip to the Mtns.
    Here is what I noticed.
    The first sign you are having trouble with altitude is you can't go to sleep even when exhausted.
    1 beer equals 3.
    IF 20 miles is your norm consider 10 a good day above 5K. That's if climbing is involved and out here there's a lot of climbing unless you plan to shuttle.
    Stop alot, to enjoy the views and let your legs recover. It is much harder to recover from bonking at altitude.

    Other tips:
    Pack for any kinda weather. It can snow in July.
    Take double the water you usually do.
    Take emergency snacks.
    Take bike parts. Walking out sucks big time.
    Your bike should be in perfect working order.
    If you brakes or chain is older than a year, consider replacing them.
    Take a small flashlight and matches.
    A GPS can be a lifesaver when exploring new trails. Just besure to turn the tracks ON. heehee
    Save the speed for the ski resorts our trails are crowded even on weekdays in the summer.

    Have a great vacation, see ya on the trails

    04 Azonic Saber
    08 Yeti AS-x
    12 Rocky Mtn 29er Alt 970



  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the tips. We'll see how it goes. Saving the drinking for the airport lounge on the way home
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  12. #12
    Living the High Life
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    There's a difference between feeling normal doing daily activities, walking for example. You'll feel normal after a day or so. But biking will definitely be different, there's no way around less air, so don't push yourself.

    I think ski and boarding is less noticeable because its more about muscle strength than cardio.

    And the alcohol thing is true, more so if you've never been at 9,000ft ever in your life.

  13. #13
    skillz to pay billz
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    what about blood doping? 1000s of roadies can't be wrong.

  14. #14
    Green Hornet
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    Antacids! Can't belive no one mentioned them.

  15. #15
    OMG!
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    you can train for it if you swim. do your normal freestyle, but only come out for air half as often. ex. left stroke breath, right stroke, left stroke, right stroke, left stroke breath.

  16. #16
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    Good job!

    My advice to you, start drinking heavily.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
    Where we should go,
    We just ride...

  17. #17
    tiny rider
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    One thing that helps seems to help me at higher altitude is to breath more actively. Exhale a bit more forcefully and you'll pump more oxygen through your system. This won't help you while you sleep, but it might give you a bit more snap in your legs.

    Btw, I'm basing this more on hiking/back country skiing at higher altitude, but figure it should apply to riding as well.

    Alternatively, just lay about enjoying the views with some good beer in hand.

  18. #18
    Chillaxin 'n Chilcotin!
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwnhlldav
    Oh yeah, most of the riding will be XC, but we want to do a day at Keystone on the lifts. Should we do that first to help with the altitude?

    We were planning on doing it last to minimize chances of any vacation ruining injuries at the beginning. We had one guy break his arm on Porcupine Rim our second day in Moab last trip.
    It isn't going to make much of a difference in your overall aclimation if you do Keystone on the first day or the last. Based on what you mention in your second paragraph, and the fact that Keystone will physically beat you, even if you never crash, I'd say to wait until the SECOND to the last day. Do it the second to the last day in case you have so much fun that you want to do it again on the last day .

  19. #19
    bacon! bacon! bacon!
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    Lowlander vs. alititude is sort of akin to mouse vs. grizzly bear.

    Sorry.


  20. #20
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    Antacids

    I have to agree with Rugby Chuck. In addition to the other suggestions, start eating antacids throughout the day (before, during, after your ride). They really help with altitude sickness.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by adjunkie
    you can train for it if you swim. do your normal freestyle, but only come out for air half as often. ex. left stroke breath, right stroke, left stroke, right stroke, left stroke breath.
    Thats how how I breath now, guess I'll be doing every fourth stroke.
    Disclaimer: I no longer fix bikes for a living.
    National Ski Patroller to feed my winter habit.

  22. #22
    Going, Going, Gonzo
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOby
    what about blood doping? 1000s of roadies can't be wrong.
    Two words: "Pulmonary Edema".

    Not worth the risk IMHO.
    Signature? I don't need no stinking signature.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwnhlldav
    Thats how how I breath now, guess I'll be doing every fourth stroke.
    Don't worry about swimming just do some short sprints while holding your breath. Get your sick on, have fun, just drink water and expect a headache. (drinking only helps with the headache)
    you can get passed a dog... nobody fuks with a lion

  24. #24
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    Supposedly at 5280 feet your dirtbike loses 15-20% off its power. I rode my 450 at sea level and it was a totally different bike

    Quote Originally Posted by superhawk
    I came out here from Sea Level and I thought I was about to Die, Went to Thunder Valley to ride my crf250 and I thought my bike had the brakes dragging and 1 Lung working

    Got rid of the 250 for a 450 and adjusted to the altitude after a week or 2.
    Pretty brutal for awhile.

  25. #25
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    There's a lot of reserach that has been done in the mountaineering field regarding acclimatization. The basics for someone coming to high altitude from low altitude quickly (i.e., with insufficient time to acclimatize properly) are: (1) avoid alcohol -- take none if possible; (2) Be fit; (3) drink LOTS of water; (4) climb (or bike) high during the day, and sleep low at night; (5) watch for signs of altitude sickness and descend immediately if any symptoms occur. Many lowland skiers get altitude sickness or even pulmonary edema in Breckenridge on their second night at altitude (often because they are making things worse by drinking alcohol). If you do at least some of these things you're likely to have few or no problems.

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