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Old 02-24-09, 06:47 AM   #1
jesspal
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Altitude Advice

I will be going to CO, in April. I will definately be hitting some mtn roads and was wondering at what elevation altitude really starts to have an effect on your breathing. The area is already at 1000ft asl. This will be my first time riding large hills and was wondering at what elevation it is really felt.

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Old 02-24-09, 07:01 AM   #2
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The group that I ride with believe that they need Three Days in Colorado to get adjusted to the Thin Air.
34 ft above sea level here.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:03 AM   #3
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Yeah, unfortunately i'll be there for four days. I'll have to be happy with a 2000 ft climb, so that would put me at 3000 ft. I just want a good climb and a really fast descent. I'll be back there in July as well.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:05 AM   #4
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Watch for Headaches.
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Old 02-24-09, 07:06 AM   #5
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Yeah my brother-in-law is a very experienced rider. I plan on riding with him and he can definately let me know the warning signs and all. I'll be using a demo bike from his shop i'm sure he wont' want me to pass out and wreck it lol. Forget me keep the bike upright.
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Old 02-24-09, 08:58 AM   #6
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In my expereince, in a past life as a marathon runner who lived all of his life at or near sea level, you will probably be ok all of the way up to 6-7 thousand ft without much acclimitization. YMMV.

Don't get fooled into thinking timezone change affects are altitude affects.

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Old 02-24-09, 09:06 AM   #7
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Very good point, I didn't even think about jet lag. From what I was told the alttiude should be cool up until the levels you were speaking of. So as long as i stay below 5,000 i expect I will be cool. The highest hill/bridge in Miami is Rickenbacher causeway which is really a mole hill. Good for hill intervals though, definately makes me stronger, and a good place to practice standing up and pedaling.
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Old 02-24-09, 11:01 AM   #8
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I live in Colorado, and have lots of friends and relatives from the east coast that come and visit. You never really know what altitude is going to do to you, until you are there.

At 5,000 ft. elevation, the elevation where I live, visitors almost always notice that it takes a little longer to catch their breath than usual. Most people don't get any MORE out-of-breath than usual, but it takes a little longer to stop panting after even a small exertion (like 1-2 flights of stairs). People that are sensitive to elevation can get headaches, but that usually goes away in a 2-3 days.

We always try to make sure that visitors stay at our house for 2-3 days before we head up above 8,000 feet or so. Some people say wait only 24 hours, but we've found that it puts a real damper on their fun if we take them up there that fast. Most of visitors get altitude headaches in the 8,500+ elevation range if you stay up there overnight no matter what. Waiting 2-3 days can make a big difference, though. It can mean the difference between having a little headache that you can ignore while having fun, and having a pretty bad and droning headache, accompanied by feeling bad all-over, and maybe being semi-nauseous.

The roads are not as steep as they are along the west coast, or in the Appalachian Mountains back east, so you probably don't have to worry about any 13% or greater slopes to climb on the bicycle. If you feel the elevation, climbing hills WILL take a little more lung and heart effort than usual, and WILL definitely make you more worn out by the end of the day. If you take it a little bit easier on the climbs, and make sure that you sleep more than you stay up drinking beer and chatting, it should be a damn fun trip.

Oh, and if you are only here for 2-3 days, I would suggest that you stick to riding in the foothills, and only drive and walk around at altitude. The roads over the foothills should be plenty steep-enough for you, and the scenery is usually just as nice as riding way up high (more western canyon-gulch, usually with great views of the Rocky Mountains across valleys and reservoirs and such).

Have fun!

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Old 02-24-09, 12:09 PM   #9
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Altitude is a funny thing. One of my annual rides is the Death Ride, which starts at @ 5,500 feet and goes up over 8,000 feet over 5 passes. We also go up and camp there a month before to ride the roads, so I've done this several times. Sometimes, I don't notice any altitude effects at all. Other times, I do feel like it takes a bit longer to recover after each hard effort. The one consistent thing I've noticed is that the air is much drier at altitude - be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Another thing that I've heard is that it takes 3-4 days to adjust to altitude, and during that adjustment time your performance may actually get worse. The recommendation for the Death Ride is to get up there late the day before the ride, and just go do it unless you can spend a full week getting acclimated. I haven't tried acclimating for a full week, so I can't say if that's true from personal experience.

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Old 02-24-09, 12:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
The area is already at 1000ft asl.
The very lowest point in Colorado is about 3300 feet above sea level...the average elevation of the state is about 6800 feet. You will feel the effects of the altitude. At 5000 feet, the air pressure (and the oxygen partial pressure) is only about 83% that of sea level. At 6000 feet, it's about 80%; and at 7000, 77%.
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Old 02-24-09, 12:58 PM   #11
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If starting to get a headache at the higher altitudes (or preferably before getting a headache), many people find that drinking more than their normal amount of water will help alleviate or prevent the headaches. Everyone seems to react differently, as stated in a prior reply. Effect can be noticed well below 4,000' with some people.
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Old 02-24-09, 03:21 PM   #12
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I live at 1000 ft. Training rides are up to 5,000 and never noticed a difference. A couple of the rides I do ride up to 8,400 max elevation on Onyx Summit. To tell you the truth, I don't notice a dern difference. Maybe it's from training at 5,000 but still, nothin'!
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Old 02-24-09, 04:11 PM   #13
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At 3300' (lowest point in CO) you probably won't notice much difference from sea level. Depending on how long you spend at the altitude and how your personal metabolism reacts, you might feel fatigued by heading up to 5000'.
I've done a fair amount of high-point climbing here in WA, meaning 6000' - 8000'. Certainly not the 13K+ that you can get in CO, but it's mostly glacier travel up here. Slow going, so it's a long bunch of hours above 5000' and I notice that it's a little "thicker" feeling to get a good breath if I'm slogging up a steep climb, carting 30 pounds of gear.
By comparison, I can haul up Mt. Pilchuck in under 2 hours and not feel a difference at the 5300' summit.
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