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FatPom

Alpine climbing and oxygen deficit

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After Mallorca last week my next big trip will be a week in the Alps taking on the big hills. I was wondering about the air being thinner and harder to breathe. Is that an issue or non issue for the types of heights I'll be heading to in the Alps? If it is, can you train more effectively for it?

 

The chalet I will be staying at is at 1100 mtrs as well.

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yeah, yeah, we get it. You're off to the Alps next.

 

(I'll be there in July - whoo hoooooooo)

 

It's not that, it's just that the team that report to me are all keen skiiers and keep asking how I'm going to cope with altitude, and I hadn't even considered that aspect of it :shy:

Edited by FatPom

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Nothing to consider, you'll be fine. You're on sealed roads and the altitude isn't so high that you'd need an oxygen mask or sherpa. No sooner do you reach the col, then you're back down the other side anyhoo.

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First ride over about 1000m you'll feel like lead. After about 48 hours you'll acclimatise. What's your highest col?

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1000m is fine. Above 3000 (eg Telluride) is very noticble. Hard to sleep, headaches, dry air, etc. Acclimatisation varies from person to person. Wife and I struggled but kids were ok - but they're much fitter than us. Hope the snow is deep, dry and deep (and deep) then you can rack the bike and have some real fun

Edited by Gunsbuns

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First ride over about 1000m you'll feel like lead. After about 48 hours you'll acclimatise. What's your highest col?

 

Galibier, eek! Doing all these (allegedly )

 

 

  • — Col du Galibier
  • — Col du Telegraphe
  • — Col de la Madeleine
  • — Col de la Croix de Fer
  • — Col du Glandon
  • — Col du Mollard
  • — Alpe d'Huez
  • — Col du Chaussy
  • — Col de l'Iseran
  • — Col d'Izoard
Edited by FatPom

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Galibier, eek! Doing all these (allegedly )

 

 

 

 

  • — Col du Galibier
  • — Col du Telegraphe
  • — Col de la Madeleine
  • — Col de la Croix de Fer
  • — Col du Glandon
  • — Col du Mollard
  • — Alpe d'Huez
  • — Col du Chaussy
  • — Col de l'Iseran
  • — Col d'Izoard
Show off :-)

Love it , have fun FP

Cheers

Ip

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Show off :-)

Love it , have fun FP

Cheers

Ip

 

That's the itinerary, I'll be lucky to make half of them based on current form. I've never even seen the Alps before though, not since school age when I used to ski anyway. TC's 'Doncha thread' has a lot to answer for!

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TC's 'Doncha thread' has a lot to answer for!

Yep

And we are expecting the same quality reports and pics from you :-)

Have fun

Very jealous

Cheers

Ip

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As Gunsbuns says, personal anatomy comes into play. Back in the days when I went climbing in Europe, I'd suffer at the higher altitudes. People I knew I was fitter than, would be in better shape, but once acclimatized things got easier.

 

Enjoy the trip mate, and look forward to reading your diary.

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Anything over 2000m you might notice it, also depends on how long you are at altitude for and how quickly you gain altitude. Everyone is different too, I know a guy, very fit, did Forster IM in under 10 hours, qualified for Kona, went trekking in Nepal a little while after Forster and had to be helicoptered out at about 5000m, while other far less fit people on the same trip had far fewer issues with the altitude.

Either way I am jealous too, enjoy!

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Fitness has very little to do with altitude sickness.

 

About the only thing aerobic fitness helps is your knowledge of how an elevated heart rate feels

Edited by Steno

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Fit people tend to gain altitude too quickly, where as the unfit go slow and get more time to acclimatize - Kilimanjaro is a classic example where that happens.

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Bastard. We didn't even get to drive Galibier as it snowed down to 1200m on the 10th October. It's about 2600m from memory.

 

Izoard on which direction? It will blow you away either way.

 

Altitude is unpredictable. 3100m I was fine, 3300m, peppery feeling almost immediately, both in 2006. then in October we went to 3850 up Pic d'Aguille and I was fine for over an hour. A couple in the gondola up were staying the whole day to acclimatise for a Nepal mountain a month later.

Edited by tortoise

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my experience with alt; in europe should be ok.

 

ive not noticed anything until you start going above 2000m and even then its not much; at above 3000m you will notice more; at 4000m above = yes its very noticeable.....

~ for the record - my best (riding bike) is 4340m starting from 2300m - after 3,600 (for me) was when things got difficult.

Edited by louey

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yeah, yeah, we get it. You're off to the Alps next.

 

(I'll be there in July - whoo hoooooooo)

 

Me too. :)

 

FP, I could still breathe ok at the top of Galibier but I couldn't talk very well, which was unusual for me :D

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FP,

 

I did alot of those climbs last year and they are not a problem. As you go past 2000m it becomes a little harder, but to be honest that could have been the fact that I was just getting tired from doing a big ride day. Alpe d'Huez is no problem. I had the best and worst day when riding Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier in one day (I found out later that they do this as a 1 day classic like "Around the bay" in melbourne). It was unbelieably rewarding but a hard days work.

 

My biggest problem was that I had never riden a hill longer than about 4 km of climbing (5 repeats of Arthurs seat), but its not the same as climbing continuously for an hour or more, .

 

You will have a blast.....I'd love to go back.

 

Cheers

Stephen

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You will have an amazing time FatPom! Picked some stellar climbs to ride...

 

my experience with alt; in europe should be ok.

 

ive not noticed anything until you start going above 2000m and even then its not much; at above 3000m you will notice more; at 4000m above = yes its very noticeable.....

~ for the record - my best (riding bike) is 4340m starting from 2300m - after 3,600 (for me) was when things got difficult.

 

Agree with the above. Note there will be a drop in power at elevation Eg Galibier is 2645m. Studies show FTP will be ~ 87% of sea level FTP

 

Record sound very much like Mt Evans from Idaho Springs in CO USA 44km climb - http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/mt-evans-13th-september.html :)

 

Surprisingly didn't find the elevation on Mt Evans as the climb was never steep. Pikes Peak the next day was another story. Steep at the top with one km @ 10.6% and only 14m lower than Mt Evans! http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/pikes-peak-14th-september.html

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yes it was mt evans :) - pikes peak isnt sealed the whole way (or wasnt when i was there)

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Last section was sealed October 2011 and opened year round to bicycles only last year after a successful trial September 2012. Prior to this Pikes Peak was only open to bicycles one day a year for a race...

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Galibier, eek! Doing all these (allegedly )

 

 

 

 

  • — Col du Galibier
  • — Col du Telegraphe
  • — Col de la Madeleine
  • — Col de la Croix de Fer
  • — Col du Glandon
  • — Col du Mollard
  • — Alpe d'Huez
  • — Col du Chaussy
  • — Col de l'Iseran
  • — Col d'Izoard

We are heading over in June hoping to do the same as above! When are you going??

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Wow thanks all for the replies.

 

Tortoise: I have no idea which direction we are going to any of the climbs. I was looking for something organised but small and I came across something that looked good and shot the guy an email on a Saturday night. The next morning he rang my mobile (from France) and spent over an hour talking with me about how his camps work and answered all my questions about turning up alone and how that would work etc. I was blown away with the effort he put in so I sent him a deposit that day. He did explain that due to the time of year the itinerary and planned routes might have to be juggled on a day to day basis due to possible closures. But that's the beauty of a small group and flexibility.

 

Blobby: That sounds like a brilliant but very tough day, nice one :)

 

KTJ: I'm there from 31/5 - 7/6.

 

I lived in Bogota years ago and don't remember altitude being an issue (diesel fumes were more of an issue). Just wondered what staying at 1100mtrs will be like though.

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Galibier, eek! Doing all these (allegedly )

 

 

 

 

  • — Col du Galibier
  • — Col du Telegraphe
  • — Col de la Madeleine
  • — Col de la Croix de Fer
  • — Col du Glandon
  • — Col du Mollard
  • — Alpe d'Huez
  • — Col du Chaussy
  • — Col de l'Iseran
  • — Col d'Izoard

Hate to say it but you're probably staying at too low an elevation to get the acclimatisation benefits. I've read anything between 1600-1900m works best. But no matter, better than being at sea level.

 

I've done the telegraph, galliber, alpe d'huez as part of the 2011 Etape along with the Izoard as well. I stayed in Montgeneve which is the ski town above breancon (1800m)

 

The Izoard from breancon is about 21k at 6.5% from memory it's a big climb that tops out at 2300m. The decent is fantastic

 

The telegraph is fine, it's a pretty leisurely climb and consistent the entire way. its 12k at 6% from memory. You'll get above 5k of respite and descending before the galliber begins. It's 16k and the last 8 k is steep. You can see where it ramps up as you see the right hand hairpin a long way off. It's then that steep all the way to the top with sections (kilometres) at 9-10%. The altitude will make it tough, it's over 2600m at the summit.

 

I've only done alpe d'huez once and it was after 95 odd k of racing. It's hard and the first few k are steep. But if you're just doing this one not attached to a bunch of others it'll be fine it it tops out at about 1700m from memory.

 

If you use power you'll have to dial it back, well actually the altitude will limit it anyway you'll find you can't push the wattage you expect. Threshold,d will feel like threshold, the number will just be smaller!

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Fat Pom we arrive on 3/6 and stay in St Jean de Maurienne for a week and then onto Bourg D'sain at the base of Alp de Huez for the second week. May see you up one of the climbs

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Fat Pom we arrive on 3/6 and stay in St Jean de Maurienne for a week and then onto Bourg D'sain at the base of Alp de Huez for the second week. May see you up one of the climbs

 

I will be based in Valmenier (wherever that is!)

 

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=Valmeinier,+France&safe=active&ie=UTF-8&ei=yycXU8PVB4SrhQeOtoEY&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ

 

I will be the one on the side of the road making deals with an religion that will have me at that time. :scared:

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FP, you're about 10km from Les Lacets de Montvernier - that little switchback road in my first post on the DONNCHA thread.

 

You're right by the the Télégraphé and Galibier climbs. Also Madeleine is to the Nth from La Chambre

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FP, you're about 10km from Les Lacets de Montvernier - that little switchback road in my first post on the DONNCHA thread.

 

You're right by the the Télégraphé and Galibier climbs. Also Madeleine is to the Nth from La Chambre

 

Sounds sweet. I saw a picture of the chalet and all you can see is an eyeful of Telegraphe. :shocking:

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I will be based in Valmenier (wherever that is!)

 

Great location. Will they be providing transport to the climbs? Otherwise riding back up to Valmenier at the end of the day will be tough...

 

Doubt you will be bothered staying at 1,100m.

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Great location. Will they be providing transport to the climbs? Otherwise riding back up to Valmenier at the end of the day will be tough...

 

Doubt you will be bothered staying at 1,100m.

I think they take a van out some days and strategically place it in a location that's good for a bail out. But as far as I know, it's riding all the way, every day (except Wed rest day).

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Eeew, doesn't that mean mega climbing even to get to the climb of the day. Like how do you get to L'Alpe from there other than up and over Galibier or whatever col gets to to Alemond?

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Eeew, doesn't that mean mega climbing even to get to the climb of the day. Like how do you get to L'Alpe from there other than up and over Galibier or whatever col gets to to Alemond?

 

I have no idea. Like I say, I've never seen the Alps apart from skiing, so I have no idea where which climb is and where it is in relation to another. I'm sure others would know, the longer this thread goes the less I think I want to know LOL.

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Nah, it will be awesome whichever way it goes. I was all over the connectivity of the climbs as I did the itinerary planning for our little jaunt last Autumn. We subbed Izoard for Galibier because of the early snow.

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If I'm 1100mtrs up at the chalet, couldn't some climbs be reached by climbing first and descending or will I be descending first thing every day ( and presumably climbing back up at the end of each day)

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Is this an organised tour group? Do they have an itinerary? Why so worried?

 

It is an organised tour, but quite small, as far as i know there are only 5 of us plus hosts so far. I wasn't worried until i saw all those Swiss mountain goats disappearing up the mountains in Mallorca last week. Now I'm starting to wonder if I haven't gone in at the deep end for my first Alipne sojourn. I think we will be on the bikes 5-6hrs a day.

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The climbs are long. You'll be out there for 5-6hrs each day no worries. I really doubt that they'll expect you to ride back to 1000m every day though.

 

Why don't you drop them an email to clarify if they will drive you over the mountain to the start of the climbs to the Sth such as Alpe D'Huez.

 

Can't see how an organise tour would just put you in a chalet and tell you to go and ride in x, y, z direction then turn around and come back.

 

 

I've always done my own thing in the alps - hired a little car and got myself around to what I want to see and do. Easier and cheaper.

Edited by The Customer

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The climbs are long. You'll be out there for 5-6hrs each day no worries. I really doubt that they'll expect you to ride back to 1000m every day though.

 

Why don't you drop them an email to clarify if they will drive you over the mountain to the start of the climbs to the Sth such as Alpe D'Huez.

 

Can't see how an organise tour would just put you in a chalet and tell you to go and ride in x, y, z direction then turn around and come back.

 

 

I've always done my own thing in the alps - hired a little car and got myself around to what I want to see and do. Easier and cheaper.

 

 

They aren't putting me in a chalet and telling me to ride x,Y,Z, the wole group will be in the chalet and the hosts (it's more like a very large holiday house set up). I will drop them a line though and see what they say.

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Now I'm starting to wonder if I haven't gone in at the deep end for my first Alipne sojourn. I think we will be on the bikes 5-6hrs a day.

Just back yourself.

You're NotThatFat Pom now, remember?

 

One of my mates did Rome - Paris last year, including 3 or 4 days straight in the Alps.

Smash breakfast.

Ride at your own pace.

Smash morning tea.

Ride at your own pace.

Smash lunch.

Ride at your own pace.

Repeat.

 

If you have a bad day, jump in the sag wagon and hit it the next day.

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Thanks Tyno, good plan :)

 

I emailed the guys and the response was that most days we do climb back uo to the chalet together but the van will be at the bottom of the climb if anyone is too tired to climb. Some days we don't start from the chalet at all, we load up the bikes into the van and start and finish from elsewhere.

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Agreed Tyno. You are overthinking it FP. Once you see what some people ride and the age and conditioning of some people riding in the Alps you will have no concerns. Plus most roads in the French Alps are mostly under 7% as they were built no steeper so oxen carts could get up them. Few steeper pinches around but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

 

You are fit and on a road bike - you will have a blast!

Edited by Dalai

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I did cross the Alps with Racebike and with MTB. Highest altitude was with MTB, about 3000m.

Probably it depends a bit on your overall fitness and how sensitive your body is concerning altitude.

But if your legs feel like "lead" it might just be because you climb several 1000m without any break.

For instance it takes several hours to climb the "Stilfser Joch" offroad with a MTB. After that you are tired anyway, no matter how high it is.

The feeling of climbing for several hours probably makes you thinking you are lacking oxygen, but you are just getting tired that's it.

Science has proven that noticeable performance impact won't occure at altitude's less than 2400m.

From what I have experienced I would totally agree with that.

Remember to bring some armwarmers, leg warmers a west and gloves. Temperature will decrease by 4°C for every 1000m.

It can rain at any time even if the weather report tells you it shouldn't rain, so bring a light rain jacket as well.

In the Alps, weather can have a far bigger impact on your bike ride than altitude. You easily can have snow and hail in mid summer. The most predictable weather will be from late August to end of September.

 

Have fun!

Edited by Brightsoul

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