Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   no altitude sickness on a bike ? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/travellers-questions-dont-fit-anywhere/no-altitude-sickness-on-bike-403)

vincent danna 24 Oct 2005 00:10

no altitude sickness on a bike ?
when i was doing backpacking in the mountains over 4-5 000 meters, i has to be careful to respect the altitude sickness criteria : not going "high" too fast, sleep under the highest level reached during the day, etc ...
when on a motorbike, "high" in the mountains over 4-5 000 meters, i don't respect the altitude sickness criteria, and i have the feeling that my body is fine.

so i wonder why ? is it because we have less physical efforts on a bike ? do you have any different experiences, or do you feel the same ?

anyways, enjoy it "high" in the mountains :-)

John Ferris 24 Oct 2005 01:54

If all you have to do is twist your wrist and move your foot your fine, but if you have to push the bike you won't feel good.
Don't forget the bike.
At 4000-5000 meters if the bike is set up for that altitude it will only have 55-60% of its sealevel horsepower. If its not set up for high altitude it will not run well at all.

beddhist 25 Oct 2005 05:57

Not everybody suffers from altitude sickness. If you don't then you are lucky.

Personally, I'm scared: I suffer from frequent migraines. The symptoms are similar to what I have read about altitude sickness and it gets triggered by altitude (for me). Migraine is painfull, but otherwise harmless. AS kills.

My worry is that on the way up into Ladakh I will have to cross several high passes with rough surface. If I suffer the symptoms, will I make it back down? Do I have to try to get down every time I have a headache?

David and Cheryl Laing 16 Dec 2005 21:29

3 of us rode the Ladak road. Our 3 bikes all coped really well (2 of them cruisers) and we did nothing to them to help them with the altitude. The 3 of us all had a few altitude problems.....mostly headaches but not too bad and we all seemed to 'suffer' at different moments so could keep an eye on each other. I was at my 'worst' on one of the lower passes rather than the high two. I think it was a combination of very bad road conditions and the fact that it was snowing quite bad at the time. I was really really scared so perhaps it was frightened sickness and not altitude sickness that I was suffering fromNowhere is the ride better than the road to Leh....except the road to the pass just a bit highter than Leh.
Am jealous!!!!!!!!! It really is worth evey headach it throws at you.

Matt Cartney 16 Dec 2005 21:59

I find altitude can affect me as low as 3000m (minor effect though, shortness of breath etc.) when hiking. I've puked in the alps at 4000m a couple of times and had terrible migraines while climbing. But the lack of hard physical work means I feel OK at these altitudes in a car etc. I remember getting some funny looks at the top of the Aguille du Midi cable car station in the Alps from people who'd got out to admire the view and I was being sick in the tunnel! I had just climbed the nearby Mont Blanc du Tacul though which from memory is a smidge over 4000m. Obviously the folk who just stepped out the cablecar felt fine. I'm sensetive to altitude though, I have mates who find the altitude a lot less of a problem. I felt fine driving the Kathmandu to Lhasa road though which goes over 5000m but then felt shitty in Lhasa itself at just over 3000m, perhaps a hangover from the pass? Altitude is weird, it affects everyone differently, often regardless of fitness or age, and the individual differently on different occasions! I hiked round the Annapurna circuit no problem which goes to over 5000m I think at it's highest point, but had loads of time to acclimatise, so thats probably why. I think it may be almost impossible to predict the effects of altitude on a person accurately.

beddhist 16 Dec 2005 23:43


Originally posted by David & Cheryl Laing:

Am jealous!!!!!!!!! It really is worth evey headach it throws at you.[/B]
Oh good! Now I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not worried about the headaches, but about mistaking AS symptoms for migraine symptoms. When I find out it may be too late, plus I will be travelling alone.

Pity I missed you when you passed through, but you are in GB now and I'm in Germany. Have fun!


seanh 17 Dec 2005 06:31

The road to Ladakh is fairly managable as you are forced up in stages. From Manali, the passes get gradually higher towards Leh and each night you sleep at a lower altitude than the passes. I had a bit of a headache at the Sarchu tent camp (4200m), possibly partly due to dehydration. My R65 ran fine, albeit a bit rich, it lacked some power but did the job easily. I had smaller main jets, but could have got by without them. I saw one guy cross Kudung La (5600m) on an old scooter. Absolutely amazing road though.

Wheelie 17 Dec 2005 12:10

Sleeping is often what gets you as your body will try to revert to the brathing rate it is used to from living at a lower altitude --- giving your body a lack of oxygen, leading to headakes and nausia. The trick is often to move up the mountain slowly to let your body climatise to the altitude, and to move down the mountain a bit to sleep.

Grant Johnson 17 Dec 2005 16:01

Much as Wheelie said;

The climbers mantra for dealing with altitude is: "Climb high, sleep low"

For us it's "ride high, sleep low! http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/smile.gif

I can always remember that!


parkie 19 Dec 2005 03:31

Advising people to ride high? Shame on you Grant. That sort of behaviour best left until the bike is parked up.

Grant Johnson 19 Dec 2005 13:28


very good parkie, I can tell how you spent your youth... http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/wink.gif

Vaufi 19 Dec 2005 20:57

Beddhist, wherearounds are you in Germany presently? If you're soewhere around Munich we could have a two-up HUBB meeting for a beer or more...

I guess the probs with AS are that you have to get used to the altitude slowly. Being motorised certainly gets you up quickly and possibly down again before you feel queasy, which would explain why somebody hasn't any probs on a high pass, but still feels rotten if staying at high altitude like Lhasa. Yeah, of course people take it differently and I suppose it make a difference where you live - at sealevel or at 800m above. Hiking upwards definitely gets you acclimatised quicker than going by bike - a possibility would be to push the bike ;-)


beddhist 19 Dec 2005 21:33


Originally posted by Grant Johnson:
very good parkie, I can tell how you spent your youth... http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/wink.gif
Past tense? I think he's young enough to have a reason to have returned to NZ. After all, the ingredients for getting high grow wild there in some parts... http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif

Hans, I'm in Bad Kreuznach at the moment. Going to spend New Years Eve near Heilbronn, but that's not even half-way to M√ľnchen. I'm leaving about end of Feb. on my trip, so could stop off at your place if you want. But the weather may make that difficult. The days of my winter riding are in the distant past now, having spent the last 7 years on the Riviera... Email me, perhaps we can work something out.


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