Train low, sleep high

Posted in Triple Bypass at 13:56 by RjZ

I’ve been ’saving my strength.’ That’s lazy speak for: over a week with no riding. Instead I went for some easy hikes at sea level in Washington state. Great for pictures, not so much for preparation.

The Triple Bypass isn’t a race, but it is a serious ride. Only a two of the 2009 Tour de France mountain stages are longer. They have similar elevation gain, and none of them is at nearly the same altitude. Granted, unlike the tour riders, we’ll be (hopefully) done at the end of the day and not part of a 21 stage tour, and my pace is just a hair slower (like 10 mph), but it’s still no easy ride.

Last week, I felt a bit better about my chances of making it before the barbecue is done (my personal goal, and I am not even interested in the barbecue….). I rode with a friend who’s done the Triple in the past. He’s a strong rider and a marathon runner to boot. I was able to handily stay ahead of him and we completed our little 15 mile time trial at over 20 miles per hour average. (Shut up. I know the tour riders do that at about 30 miles per hour…it’s still fast.) He seemed confident I’d have no problem and I am all too happy to believe him.

But I still have a nagging concern about how altitude will effect me. So I am making my own joke about sleeping at altitude a reality. I’ve decided to camp out at 10,000 feet for two days preceding the ride. I’ll go up to Juniper Pass (part of the route) and camp near Echo Lake. I’ll go for an easy ride, maybe up the pass and back. The next day I’ll hike, maybe up Mt. Evans. I’ll eat my homemade muesli, some pasta, perhaps some brownies if I have time to make them. I won’t be able to shower, and I can’t be sure I’ll sleep well, but I’ll drive down the pass unload the bike, and ride right past where I’d slept and we’ll know then, just how bad the headache is!

I know that I do acclimatize thanks to my Peruvian mis-adventure, but is two nights enough to acclimatize? Wikipedia points to a mountaineering rule of thumb of 1000 feet for each day of sleep, which wouldn’t quite make it. A few drugs are available that may work, but neither are available over the counter in the United States. There are homeopathic remedies as well, but none of these has a mechanism that convinces me to bother outside of “the Chinese have been doing this for over 2000 years, so it’s got to be good.”

Weather is looking easy, everything I need, including waterproof jacket and pants seems to fit in my seat bag and jersey. If camping works, I’ll be just fine. If not, at least I’ll be able to get an early start. Be sure to check back next week to learn how I did.

Leave a Comment