So you’re thinking about a tour next year involving altitude? Col du Galibier sounds enticing. After all as you achieve the zenith the signs reads 2,642 meters and that sounds reasonable. Doesn’t it?

Well 2,642 meters equates to 8,668 feet above sea level. Most cyclists living in the Colorado Front Range have acclimatized to those heights since most of us train “high” regularly. But nearly everyone suffers at altitudes 8,000 feet higher than their home base.

Cyclists living at sea-level and traveling to higher elevations often face performance anxiety. Remaining symptom-free is a common goal. As a ski instructor at Vail Resorts, I encountered guests with high-altitude sickness numerous times. The worst cases were the youngsters trying to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, eating only “sugar flakes” and donuts while drinking sodas or juices. 

Even if you aren’t prone to serious high-altitude sickness, consider incorporating these tips into your regimen to enhance performance and avoid the nausea and headaches associated with altitude. No guarantees on your performance, but you’ll probably feel better than you would have otherwise.

  • Get your rest. 
  • Limit caffeine if it inhibits sleep.
  • Drink more water than usual as it is easier to dehydrate at altitude – especially if you’re flying.
  • Limit alcohol intake and eliminate if possible.
  • Eat healthy carbohydrates and proteins while minimizing sugars and fat.
  • Eat ginger or drink ginger ale to help alleviate nausea.
  • Search for an “oxygen bar” in a ski resort.
  • If you’re especially prone to suffering the nausea or dizziness, consult with your physician about drug remedies such as herbal remedies, ibuprofen or acetazolamide for severe cases. 

Furthermore, Chris Carmichael recently (10/19/13) posted on “arriving for high-altitude” events. He suggested either within 18 hours of competition or 7-10 days before. A week or more time at altitude lets your lungs and respiratory system adjust; allows the time and space to focus on your training, rest & recovery and reduces last minute travel stress. Chris states that the worst interval for arrival is 2-4 days before the event. During that time period, travel fatigue, disrupted sleep and dehydration take their toll.

On second thought……………..maybe a sea-level, tropical vacation is in order!

Tail winds and thanks for reading!
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