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Mountain biking at high altitudes – handy tips

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Mountain biking at high altitude

Mountain biking at high altitude is a massive challenge most people have never faced before, something you’ll come across in our Ecuador, Nepal, and Colorado tours.

We delve into the handy MTB hints and tips for mountain biking at high altitude

Mountain biking at high altitude can be a pretty scary experience the first time, so we’ve pulled together some handy MTB tips to help you avoid and manage the effects of altitude sickness, and enjoy every second of your incredible high mountain experience to the max.

Altitude sickness is caused by gaining height too quickly and you can start to feel the effects of high altitude from around 2,500m as the air pressure drops and there is less oxygen available to fuel your body. At 2,500m oxygen levels are 75% of those at sea level.

Symptoms of altitude sickness include: headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and a stuffy nose. Different people are affected in different ways and there are no specific factors, such as your physical condition or age, that increase or decrease your likelihood of suffering the condition.

The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to make sure you ascend at a gradual pace to give your body a chance to acclimatise to the reduced oxygen levels. On our mountain bike tour in the Himalayas of Nepal we climb gradually, over a period of several days, from 1,800m to 4,250m, the highest point of our mountain bike tour in the Lower Mustang region. Our highest over-night stop is at 2,900m on day 7 in Kagbeni, and there is the possibility that you will experience some effects of the altitude, even while resting.

When mountain biking at high altitude in Nepal, Colorado and Ecuador, you will feel unusually breathless, with a higher heart and respiration rate. You should drink a minimum of four to six litres of fluid per day, even if you don’t feel thirsty, to ensure that your body remains hydrated.

As you pedal uphill you’ll work really hard to ride really slowly! But don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat – even your guide – and you should just take your time and marvel at the awesome scenery you’re riding in. The rewards at the top are well worth the effort!

In summary:

  • Make sure there’s plenty of time built in to your itinerary for acclimatizing to the increase in altitude
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Wear sunscreen, even if it doesn’t seem that bright. The risk of sunburn is increased at higher altitudes
  • Take your time and enjoy the views!
  • Inform your guide if you start to feel unwell
  • Always listen to the advice of your local guide
  • Make sure you consult your doctor/physician before travelling for advice on preventing and managing the effects of altitude when Mountain biking at high altitude

Join us on Instagram to see some of our inspiring photos and videos from our mountain bike tours around the world.

Found this post useful? Why not continue reading “Training for your mountain bike tour‘ or “Skills part 1“.

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