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Safely Acclimating to Altitude?

Old 01-18-19, 10:05 PM
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Not that high, you will be fine at any elevation below 5000'. I lived in Denver for a decade, that's where about where one first starts to feel it, and only mildly, unless totally unfit.
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Old 01-19-19, 08:00 AM
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While there are sensible measures individuals can take to help adjust to altitude, individual susceptibility to altitude sickness cannot be predicted. When I was touring in Colorado, I encountered an Adventure Cycling group. They had begun on the coast of Oregon, so everyone was certainly in good shape by the time they reached Colorado. Obviously, they had gained altitude gradually. Two members of that group experienced serious altitude sickness in the higher elevations found in Colorado and both had to abandon their tour. I have a family member who had never previously had altitude sickness, but on a subsequent trip where he was over 9,000+ ft (2,700m) he experienced altitude sickness and ended his trip.

Here's a link to a medical article about altitude illness:
https://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1101/p1103.html
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Old 01-19-19, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
While there are sensible measures individuals can take to help adjust to altitude, individual susceptibility to altitude sickness cannot be predicted. When I was touring in Colorado, I encountered an Adventure Cycling group. They had begun on the coast of Oregon, so everyone was certainly in good shape by the time they reached Colorado. Obviously, they had gained altitude gradually. Two members of that group experienced serious altitude sickness in the higher elevations found in Colorado and both had to abandon their tour. I have a family member who had never previously had altitude sickness, but on a subsequent trip where he was over 9,000+ ft (2,700m) he experienced altitude sickness and ended his trip.

Here's a link to a medical article about altitude illness:
https://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1101/p1103.html
Good point. Just because someone else never had a problem doesn’t mean another person won’t have problems. And, just because a person has never had problems before, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have problems in the future.

Another consideration is that TimothyH is jumping from low altitude to high altitude quickly on routes that are fairly steep and require a lot of effort to climb. That increases the chances of altitude sickness significantly.
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Old 01-19-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute


Good point. Just because someone else never had a problem doesn’t mean another person won’t have problems. And, just because a person has never had problems before, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have problems in the future.

Another consideration is that TimothyH is jumping from low altitude to high altitude quickly on routes that are fairly steep and require a lot of effort to climb. That increases the chances of altitude sickness significantly.

That's part of the reason I regularly stop to take pictures when I ride out there!
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Old 01-19-19, 12:21 PM
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Old 01-19-19, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute


Good point. Just because someone else never had a problem doesn’t mean another person won’t have problems. And, just because a person has never had problems before, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have problems in the future.

Another consideration is that TimothyH is jumping from low altitude to high altitude quickly on routes that are fairly steep and require a lot of effort to climb. That increases the chances of altitude sickness significantly.
ditto on the fact that altitude sickness can be a crapshoot roulette wheel for who suffers from it. I did an exchange programe 35 years ago and a guy from my town was on the same program that went to Bolivia. He was young, super fit, yet had the bad luck to get pretty serious altitude sickness that didnt happen to others in the group at the same altitude.

as already mentioned by others, being aware of hydration and exertion amount you --following established guidelines, is probably going to be your best bet and defence.
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Old 01-19-19, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Not to hijack the OPs thread but I have had similar concerns. But I am going to be much lower. 3800 feet. My problem is no chance to acclimate. I will be going from pretty much sea level to that altitude in a day. I realize it is not that high but again I have never ridden that high before. I will be 60 at the time. In better shape than most people my age, but not as good as some.
a number of years ago, I visited the country I had lived in on an exchange program when young, and went from not far off sea level to maybe the level you are mentioning, 3800ft, I was at maybe 1200 m or thereabouts, cant recall.
I hadnt biked for a couple of weeks, but went mountain biking with the grandson of the family I know, and he and his friends took me on a two hour ride going higher and up stupid steep stuff. I'm in reasonable shape, but my heart was pounding harder than it had practically ever, and there were times I was walking the bike up these stupid steep dirt paths and I'd have to stop and let my heartbeat lower, as it was too much.
Was the altitude diff so quickly that did this, pure and simple.
A few years later I was biking my loaded bike over much higher passes over and over, but the gradual acclimitisation gave me no problems whatsoever other than normal tiredness.

another time, after biking down the west coast, so mostly at sea level, a friend that I visited near San Fran took me on a hiking trip in the Sierra Nevadas. So in a day of driving, went from sea level to about 10,000ft and got to 12,000ft and even though Im sure it helped being both much younger and in great shape after the bike trip, I still really had to pace things and dial back the exertion--pretty normal and average I guess, but now 25 years later, I think I would want to plan more acclimatization time in.
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Old 01-19-19, 07:49 PM
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And don't forget to stand up slowly, just like when you smoke cannabis. You can get pretty good headrushes, even without the weed, so be careful. 😎
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