Do I need to worry about altitude sickness?

Altitude is a concern in the high country. We recommend taking it easy, drinking lots of water, and taking Diamox. (Diamox is the common name of acetazolamide, a tried-and-tested medication regularly used to increase respiration and help acclimatize at high altitudes.)

High altitude sickness is still a grey area and in our experience there is no pattern or benchmark that it follows. It seems to afflict the young, old, fit and unfit individuals with the same intensity or ignore them whatever the case might be. At the root cause is the lack of oxygen supply to the body under the rarefied air conditions at higher altitudes.

We are giving below a few pointers that are common sense to any sensible person with substantial high altitude experience.

Breathe: We breathe all the time but in the mountains make a special effort to concentrate and take deep breaths.

Don’t get excited: Always remain calm and composed. Keep your actions, movements and exertion under check.

Don’t stop eating: Eat, even if you don’t feel like it. However do not over-eat.

Drink water: Pure water, don’t count cold drinks and alcohol as water. In fact if you are having cold drinks, coffee, alcohol or medicines for high altitude sickness, drink more water to compensate for the same.

Listen to your body, don’t push it: In case of any discomfort contact the program director/ leader or the local doctor immediately. You don’t get any macho points for suffering in silence.

There is no guarantee that an extremely fit person will not suffer from high altitude sickness, but we cannot escape the fact that increased levels of fitness will help you achieve more out of this trip. If fitness is not a regular feature of your life it’s time to start working at it now as you prepare the bike, do the paperwork and get all your gear into place for this ride.

Start gradually and keep a tempo to ensure that you are not overly fatigued near the start of the trip. In fact you might decide to reduce your tempo gradually to allow your body to recover as you come closer to the ride dates. Any training program that builds up your strength and stamina should be beneficial and it is your call how to balance the two requirements. Strong forearms, shoulders, triceps, lower back, and legs are a definite advantage to a rider, but along with strength he also needs the stamina and lasting ability to sustain the steam over long distances.

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