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Altitude, hills, and speed

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Altitude, hills, and speed

Old 01-21-09, 05:25 PM
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Altitude, hills, and speed

How long can a person blame a change in altitude ... moving to a place that is at a significantly higher altitude ... for a drop in average speed? I would assume that at some point the person would adjust to the altitude and the speed would return to what it was at the lower altitude. Or not??

What about a change in terrain from dead flat to fairly hilly? Again I would assume that at some point the person would adjust to riding in hills and the speed would return to what it was on the flat terrain. Or not??
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Old 01-21-09, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
How long can a person blame a change in altitude ... moving to a place that is at a significantly higher altitude ... for a drop in average speed?
As long as you need to.

Next question?
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Old 01-21-09, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
How long can a person blame a change in altitude ... moving to a place that is at a significantly higher altitude ... for a drop in average speed? I would assume that at some point the person would adjust to the altitude and the speed would return to what it was at the lower altitude. Or not??

What about a change in terrain from dead flat to fairly hilly? Again I would assume that at some point the person would adjust to riding in hills and the speed would return to what it was on the flat terrain. Or not??
0 days.

You are actually faster on the flats at altitude due to reduction in drag. Peak power is slightly reduced but it more than compensated for by the reduced drag. Only when climbing fairly steep grades (slow speed, less contribution to resistance from drag) are you actually slower at altitude.

Default rider in drops at sea level producing 200W will go 20.7mph
Same rider at 2000ft will go 21.2mph

https://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm
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Old 01-21-09, 05:55 PM
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^^^

That jives with my experience at moderate (4000) to hgih (10,000) altitudes when riding around Bishop, Mammoth, Yosemite, and at Everest Challenge.

Last edited by umd; 01-21-09 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 01-21-09, 05:56 PM
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What about oxygen intake?
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Old 01-21-09, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
What about oxygen intake?
That's what he meant by peak power is reduced.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:00 PM
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Never really ridden at altitude, but I did do some hiking at 10,000+ ft. and it felt invigorating. Pretty sure the pace was at least that at sea level.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:00 PM
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As to the other part of your question, you never "adjust" your average speed to riding in hills to match flat terrain. You just don't make up as much on the descents as the ascents; you will always be slower. Just ask someone from Florida vs. someone from California what their average speeds are...

Edit: I suppose the extra difficulty could cause extra training effect which could pull up your average speed along with your fitness in general to some degree, but depending on how flat and how hilly you probably still wouldn't get it all back. This is why people say not to worry about average speed.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:01 PM
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You can get acclimated to altitudes, and develop more muscles for hills, but that doesn't mean things are the same afterwards, either. I've read that you should feel a lot better just a day or two after moving to higher altitudes, and should develop more red blood cells in a few weeks. (Everest climbers try to stay at Base Camp for a month or so before they go on up, if I remember right). Even if you develop more red blood cells, there's still less oxygen to be had, so you may or may not ever be the same. Those Everest guys can deal with high altitudes, but it definitely slows them down, too. If you had the same power output at the higher altitude, you'd actually be faster, due to the thinner air giving you less wind resistance.

On the hills, consider that if it was hilly enough, you might not ever match your former speed, no matter how much you worked at it. You're asking how long it takes to move from fitness level A to fitness level B, and the answer could be a week, a month, a year, or never.

If this is a move you've made, don't sweat it and just keep working out. If it's a move that's upcoming, just wait and see- you might not see any difference at all if the change isn't too drastic.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:02 PM
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You could sleep in a home-made hyperberic chamber like Floyd does.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:05 PM
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Looking at that applet, I don't see any correction factor to compensate for less O2 taken in by the lungs for a given breathing rate at altitude. For steady long climbs, I would say a month to acclimate gains one the compensatory red count to carry equivalent O2 for the same rate of breathing. But, I'm certainly no expert.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by dysFTP
You could sleep in a home-made hyperberic chamber like Floyd does.
Or just drink milk like Floyd does.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH
Looking at that applet, I don't see any correction factor to compensate for less O2 taken in by the lungs for a given breathing rate at altitude. For steady long climbs, I would say a month to acclimate gains one the compensatory red count to carry equivalent O2 for the same rate of breathing. But, I'm certainly no expert.
Depends on the person and the altitude. IIRC I figured about a 10%-15% reduction in sustainable power at Everest Challenge due to the altitude, by comparing steady effort power outputs and heart rates at elevation and in training. However I also had broken ribs so that complicated the calculations. Some of my reduced output was due to my condition and I'm not entirely sure whether that is completely reflected in the HR correlation or not.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dysFTP
You could sleep in a home-made hyperberic chamber like Floyd does.
Checking e-bay....
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Old 01-21-09, 06:20 PM
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A rule of thumb is 6 weeks for full acclimation. I moved from the 800' elevation of Kansas City to the 5-6,000' altitudes in the Denver area and began climbing to 7500+ regularly, five years ago at age 50. For quite some time, even moderate hills were got me huffing and puffing and I was always considered a good hill climber at lower altitude.

Anyone who claims that reduced air density makes up for the lack of oxygen should climb the 28 miles from Idaho Springs (about 7500') to 14,000' at the top of Mt. Evans. After 12,000' the drop in power is quite noticeable as the air gets thin. I've done it 6 times since I moved to Colorado. My best time was 2:35 (solo) against a world record of about 1:42. In the real race, the pros have rabbits to bring up the pace and draft on for the first 5-6 miles until the real climbing starts.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dysFTP
You could sleep in a home-made hyperbaric chamber like Floyd does.
Michael Jackson was known for that also, Apparently great minds think alike. lol
BTW is certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. If Floyd's was home-made, I wonder if it is anything more than a mosquito net.
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Old 01-21-09, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH
If this is a move you've made, don't sweat it and just keep working out. If it's a move that's upcoming, just wait and see- you might not see any difference at all if the change isn't too drastic.
The move to a much higher altitude and much hillier terrain happened 4 years ago ... and I still haven't regained my former flat and low speed. However, I'm not quite as winded when I climb hills now as I was when I first got here.
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Old 01-21-09, 07:03 PM
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Yeah, average speed is going to go down considerably if you move to hillier terrain. I moved from Sacramento to San Francisco and saw my average go down 3-4 mph, or about 15%. Like umd says, you just can't make up that average speed on the downhills compared to the uphills. But you will get stronger.
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Old 01-22-09, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
The move to a much higher altitude and much hillier terrain happened 4 years ago ... and I still haven't regained my former flat and low speed.
And you never will:



Living at altitude also makes you slower over time, since you can't work out as hard or as long in the reduced atmosphere.
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Old 01-22-09, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
The move to a much higher altitude and much hillier terrain happened 4 years ago ... and I still haven't regained my former flat and low speed. However, I'm not quite as winded when I climb hills now as I was when I first got here.
It's natural for average speed to drop with higher elevations and hilly terrain. My average speed is at least 2 mph lower on my regular route from my house into the mountains, compared to the slightly rolling terrain around Kansas City. I spend nearly an hour climbing at 10-11 mph and the descent doesn't make up for the loss in average speed.
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Old 01-22-09, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
The move to a much higher altitude and much hillier terrain happened 4 years ago ... and I still haven't regained my former flat and low speed. However, I'm not quite as winded when I climb hills now as I was when I first got here.
Are you "faster" when you go back down in elevation? Say close to sea level.
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Old 01-22-09, 09:43 AM
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Chew coca leaves, like the Incas.
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Old 01-22-09, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
The move to a much higher altitude and much hillier terrain happened 4 years ago ... and I still haven't regained my former flat and low speed. However, I'm not quite as winded when I climb hills now as I was when I first got here.
Are you talking about R.D. or Ed area? Neither of those places are at elevation or particularly hilly.

Originally Posted by terrymorse
And you never will:

That’s maximal aerobic power, not speed. Furthermore, I highly doubt she is spending much time riding around near VO2 max. At low intensities, O2 uptake by the lungs is absolutely not performance limiting.

For fun let’s look at a maximal aerobic power example.

Default athlete in drops riding at his MAP of 400W will go 26.6mph.
Acclimatized to 2000ft his MAP will fall to 393W (98.3%) but his speed will rise to 27.1mph.

https://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm

I wonder where modern athletes would attempt the hour record…?
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Old 01-22-09, 12:09 PM
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This is why the pros train at altitude, live at sea level. I thought hypobaric chambers were illegal for pro cyclists. It's also why Eddy Merckxx and company go for the Hour record at altitude(Mexico City)
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Old 01-22-09, 12:49 PM
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After I moved to a place with an increase of about 5,000 ft (~1667 m) altitude, I also found that it was harder to maintain speed on 3+ hour rides. I used to ride in semi-hilly areas as well, so it was not just an increase in elevation on a given ride. I had to mix in more aerobic and power intervals to go the same speed that I used to near sea level.

But, I don't know how much of it is just due to getting older. That happens to all of us as well. You can't be 20-30 something forever.

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