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It is funny how altitude affects different riders. I have normally never been very good at altitude. It has probably been my biggest obstacle in the sport. On the road, with the Coors Classic having nearly the whole race at altitude, then when I started riding more MTB, nearly all the events were held at altitude, high altitude.

I’m not sure why I acclimate slowly. I don’t feel “right” at altitude unless I’ve been there for weeks. I’ve had pretty good results at altitude, both on the road and MTB, but like I said, it takes a ton effort to get to a point that I can ride okay.

It always used to amaze me how the best Pro riders from Europe could come over here and ride fast right from the get go. Bernard Hinault, Phil Anderson, Lemond, all seemed to show up for the Coors Classic and never have any issues. Our team would spend a month at 9000 ft. in Mammouth acclimating.

There aren’t that many places in the world where you can ride consistently over 9000 feet. At least many places that have nice paved roads like Colorado.

But, the last couple times I’ve been in Colorado, I feel better riding after 5 days or so. I’m sure racing will be a different story, but riding isn’t too bad. I think I feel better. That is what I was hoping for. Getting out of the allergies and heat to give myself a chance to reset. I’m hoping it’s working.

We rode MTB for 4 hours a couple days ago and it was pretty hard. Yesterday, we rode from Silverthorne over Loveland Pass and down the other side towards Georgetown. I didn’t feel too bad climbing Loveland Pass either direction. I wasn’t going that fast, but I could at least pedal at 12,000 feet.

I don’t really understand why Gilbert and Boonen went to altitude for their micro training camps after the classics. If I were in their positions, I wouldn’t spend time training at altitude unless I needed to race at altitude. I think you loose power riding at altitude. I think it is good for your blood though. Maybe if you’re just trying to recovery from the first part of the season, then I get it. But it does stress your body some.

Okay, not sure what I’m doing today. It has been a heat warning in Topeka since I left. It is going to be almost 75 degrees here today. Hardly a cloud in the sky this morning. Pretty nice.

Catherine was a little rusty when she got on her MTB bike.

Vincent riding to the top of Loveland Pass.

Nearly 12000 feet.

And the marker from the HC KOM in the Tour today. Not half the altitude.


Scene at the top of the Col D'Aubisque today.

Not my kind of fountain.

Bromont swimming with his GPS vest.

7 thoughts on “Altitude

  1. Trey

    The pros ride fast right away at altitude because they are on EPO. They aren’t exempt from the same natural laws that we are. Bunch of cheaters

  2. Jim

    Hey, you’re insinuating le dopeage but said LeMond was clean before. Please don’t say you’re changing your mind on him.

  3. trey h.

    I see relatively little change at altitude w/o acclimating unless there are repeated anaerobic efforts. Supposedly a function of VO2+residual lung vol. + hematocrit. There are not-so-special athletes in the big summit climbing world that don’t stand out from the crowd until they get to 20,000 ft.+. These are the factors they’ve identified that separate them from the masses, so I’ve read. Maybe LeMond fits into this category.

  4. DavidR

    @Trey, hey I’m a skeptic, too, but they’re not ALL on EPO (hopefully). A lot of euro-pros are doing altitude training these days, and it seems to be paying big dividends. Hushovd has apparently been training in the mountains around Monaco with Gilbert, and look at the results. Training at altitude does result in increased hematocrit levels, so there is definitely a benefit. My attitude these days is one of informed skepticism, but not outright cynicism. I love this sport and I believe that things are getting better.

  5. tilford97 Post author

    I wasn’t implying that that Hinault, Lemond, etc. were taking drugs. There wasn’t even EPO when they were coming over and racing in Colorado without acclimating. They were just better athletes. And being better athletes allowed them to adapt much better than us mere mortals.

  6. nancy

    would it be possible that Hinault, Lemond and others were doing blood bags? Same effect as EPO but more a pain logistically. Was it known in that time?


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