Leadville 100 Altitude Acclimatation

Discuss light weight issues concerning mountain bikes & parts.

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by Gregorio

I have read many opinions on the best way to acclimate to high altitudes. I need real life experience help.
I dont have the 2-3wks to spend out there prior to the race. I live at 800' elevation
Race elevations are from 9,200'-12,xxx something.
Distance and the climbing doesnt have me really worried but the altitude sure does.

Also any equipment recommendations would be helpful as well. My current bike is a 2003 cannondale hardail sram xo mavic crossmax disc brakes.

Thanks for any help.

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by Colin

While, I've never raced Leadville, I've done a bit of racing/riding at altitude. I've found it best to spend as little time as possible at altitude before hand. If I were you, I wouldn't show up until the day before just so you can get registered and everything.

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by 5shot

I live at 6500 ft above sea level and regularly ride up to 8500 feet, so riding in the Colorado Rockies is not an issue for me. However, my father, who lives in Texas at about 200 ft, used the following acclimation plan before riding with me above 10000 ft in Colorado last summer. My father drove up from Texas to Salida, CO where a friend of his lives. They spent three days road riding in the mountains around Salida. On the fourth day, my father drove to Copper, CO and on the fifth day we road the Copper Triangle ride. He reported that at no time during the trip did he suffer any ill effects from the altitude. So, it doesn't necissarily take two or three weeks to acclimate but a few extra days at altitude before your race probably wouldn't hurt.

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by TheRookie

To help increase red blood cell count (the key longer term benefit of training at altitude) I have heard of runners training using a swimming snorkel to restrict air flow so they have to work harder to get the Oxygen in.......worth a try?

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by Gregorio

Packet Pickup is Thursday and the Race is Saturday.
I have ridden up to 11,200 ft but never stayed at that elveation for any length of time. Just climbing and descending. Whats worrying me is a 9hr ride at that elevation.

What about equipment choice. I am leaning toward a hardtail 29er would be best, but not sure. I may just ride what I have

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by fat tire

If you are not willing to commit to success by taking epo then get there as late as you can. HAHA One huge factor with altitude is dehydration. So Drink Drink Drink.

Without approximately 3 weeks to spare at altitude before hand physiological benefits are not actually going to happen. (Caveat: The time that your body will take to acclimate will vary between people.) Either way it is probably going to take more time than you have.

Another important thing to do in such a long race at altitude is to not go into the red zone. When I say red zone I am speaking in terms of HR not altitude. You will suffer the rest of the day if you do. Plus eat early and often.

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by clarkson

I wish I had some actual science to back up my statement, but it's conjecture. You could try google scholar as I'm certain there have been studies on this;

The body will go through a period of fatigue etc while acclimating, a process which will require weeks - as stated above. So, the worst approach is to show up in the middle ground, where your body will be at the dip of most fatigued come race day, but without any significant acclimation. If you can't show up in advance, best bet is to leave it as late as possible.

Regarding equipment choices, I would look at last year's top 5 or 10 places and see what they rode. Most pros have the option of 26/29" wheel and FS/HT, so that might be a good bet as to what's best.

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by Briscoelab

You aren't racing to win, so just go there and ride... enjoy yourself :) Don't worry about planning your arrival and such... that race is such a zoo anyway. The real thrill is just being there with so many people. If you want to spend a few more days there ahead of time, then do it.

Also on the bike front. I certainly wouldn't go buy something new just for the race (unless you really just want an excuse to get a new bike!). It's basically a race on dirt roads and pavement.... it's just the altitude that kills you. If you are comfortable and confident n your current bike. Just go with that!

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by Tubularnator

We went last year, my brother raced leadville. We stayed at Vail, Colorado, which is a 30-45 minutes drive to Leadville. If I'm not mistaken the elevation at Vail was 8,000 feet, We didn't feel the altitude change even though I come from a city with an elevation of 200-400ft.

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by xyzgeoman

Second the hydration!!!!

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by legsrburnin

I lived in New York (flat, about sea level) and raced the US Nationala at SolVista Basin in Co a couple of years ago. It was about 8000ft-10500.

You can definitely feel the difference, but I rode it without an issue, it just takes far longer to recover after a big effort.

I arrived the day before the race.

I did some reading before and most people agree that unless you have weeks to acclimatize just show up on the day and race. Many say that is can actually hurt performance to arrive 3-4 days before racing because your body's stressed from the altitude, but hasnt had time to adjust.

My tip- Just show up and ride!!
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by prendrefeu

My tip: arrive a few days early, and just like warming up for a TT on a race day you'll need to spike your hear rate and give your body a full run down at the altitude before the event. It does not take weeks, just a day or two before the event. Each of those two days go out for a ride nothing too long, but enough terrain and stress variety to give a your body an 'appetizer' of the event's conditions. That's it. Recover well each day. Eat & hydrate plenty. By the third day (race day) you'll be fine.

Not doing that and you'll feel like you're riding with flat tires.

My background in experience doing this practice has been successful:
-Alta Alpina Challenge (that's 200mi, 23,000+ft climbing at a base elevation of 6000')
-Death Ride (129mi, 15,000ft climbing supposedly) 5x. Starts at base elevation of 6000'
-Climbed Mt. Whitney 7 times from the portal, one-day ascents and returns. This is speedy-hiking, true, but the elevation is a significant factor.

I live at an elevation of 500ft.

On my first attempt at a 50k XC race (running) that started at 7000' I arrive the night before. Let's just say it did not go well. Where did I learn my lessons? There - both in action, and the advice from a pro XC runner (I see her all the time in running catalogues now).
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by Cristallo

I'm doing the qualifying race this year in NY and hope to be there. Levi and Lance broke the course record on 26er FS, may be they road them because trek did not have a HT 29er (only Gary Fisher branded) but practically everyone seems to recommend HT 29er. Some say you can manage it on a cyclocross bike, but that sound nuts to me unless you had one with disk brakes. Out of the top 3 last year 2 were on HT 29ers and one was sponsored by a company that did not make one (canyon).

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by Gregorio

A friend of mine gave me almost identical advice. He did some crazy off road iron man type race in Utah. He said that worked for him although he was hospitalized afterwards :shock:
That is my plan. Atleast I think. I feel pretty good about it now.
Today I did 150 miles in 8 hours and still had gas left for Atleast another hr. 500- 1000' elevation though.

Cristallo, good luck. I am saving up for a 29er but if not...no big deal. I am thinking a niner carbon or maybe ORBEA alma.

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by Hubert

I did Leadville last year on a hardtail 29er.

I arrived on Thursday evening, picked up my packet on Friday, did a short ride, and went to bed early. Race on Saturday went pretty well... got to the top of Columbine in 4:30ish, but at the 7 hour mark my stomach shut down and I lost over an hour in the last 10 miles. Finished in 9:53, an hour slower than my goal.

Anyway... I never really felt the altitude cardiovascularly or aerobically, but it could have contributed to my GI issues. So, make sure you're taking on energy/calories AND plain water during the race. Too much of just one can backfire. Badly.

My teammates for the race were current NAVY SEALs who have spent a lot of time acclimating to altitude in Afghanistan; their advice was to arrive as soon before the race as possible (i.e., the day before) or to spend 3-4 weeks acclimating to the altitude. Anything in between would likely hurt your performance.

You could also get a Rx for Diamox, as prophylaxis against altitude sickness AND altitude induced pulmonary edema - getting an IV and O2 after the race is a total bummer.

Turn down the suck knob.

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