Old Enough to Know Better
Join Date: Mar 2006
I hope I'm not replying too late.
On our first trip to Colorado that included bicycling, I found that the change in altitude makes a very big difference to me. Around where I live in Oklahoma the elevation is around 1200'. We decided to take the bicycles on a trip that passed through Colorado Springs and set out one morning to ride around the Garden of the Gods. (I highly recommend it!) The altitude at the garden is around 6500'.
I thought we were going to die. And there aren't any hills there. There is some small elevation change as you go around the park, but compared to the surrounding countryside, it is essentially flat.
Now, we're certainly not world class racers, but 20 mile rides during the work week and organized rides on the weekends of 62 miles plus, had us in reasonable shape for a leisurely ride; or so we thought.
We did get to see some fantastic scenery, and the U.S. Olympic Bicycling teams (Men's & Women's) blew by us on their morning ride through the park, which was thrilling to see. I'm just glad there wasn't a several thousand (hundred?) foot climb we had to make to have a successful day.
As our week-long trip continued our breathing efficiencies increased dramatically, and the rides were certainly easier for a week or so after we got back home! But I always deeply discount my "flat land" performance when traveling to the high country.
Last August we summited Red Cloud peak
and intended to also do Sunshine peak (both are 14,000"+ peaks in close proximity) but ran out of time because we couldn't breath well enough to maintain hiking speed.
Your experience may be different of course depending on a number of factors, but until you know how you will react for sure, plan conservatively. And have fun!