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Leadville Series: Adjusting to the Altitude

  • By Jason Sumner
  • Published Aug. 4, 2011
  • Updated Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM EDT
Wide shot Hagerman pass to Sugarloaf


Wide shot Hagerman pass to Sugarloaf

It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It’s the demon that keeps you up at night. It’s the reason so many cyclists don’t bother trying the Leadville 100, and why so many others fail.

It is, THE ALTITUDE.

More than any other factor, the altitude and altitude gain required to finish the Leadville 100 is what separates this famed 100-mile cross-country endurance race from all the rest.

The race starts in Leadville proper, elevation 10,152 feet above the sea, never dips below 9,200 feet, and tops out at the infamous Columbine Mine, peak elevation a lung searing 12,550 feet. Total climbing on the 50-mile out-and-back course (which is actually a shade over 103 miles) is 12,612 feet.

So outside of moving to Leadville and taking a job with the local mining company, how does one best deal with this precipitous obstacle?

How do you acclimatize?

Well, according to a quartet of top pros — Dave Wiens, Rebecca Rusch, Jeremiah Bishop and Nate Whitman — the No. 1 strategy is not to worry about it too much, because there’s not much you can do. Here’s more altitude adjustment advice from our panel of pros.

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