Simulated Altitude Blog - Preparing for an Alpine Stage Race

Hi everyone,
I know there have been several threads about hypoxia training and altitude acclimatization on this forum before, but the ones I found dried up years ago, so I decided it was best to start a new thread. Obviously, everyone is welcome to participate, ask questions, share own experiences, and give advice.

Current state and plan:
I have started sleeping at simulated altitude a week ago, and worked my way up from 4,000 ft of simulated elevation to now 7,300 ft of elevation (around 3/4 of sea level oxygen density). I will ramp this up to 9,000ft (around 70% of sea level oxygen density) over the next 3 days, and stay there (if everything goes to plan) for another 12 days.
After that, I will do two week at sea level (basically just sleeping without altitude tent) and then go back to altitude for another 3 weeks, where I will ramp up the altitude a lot quicker (from 4,500 to 9,000ft within 5 days).
One week after that, I have a three day stage race in Switzerland, with a base camp at 5,000ft, and climbs up to 7,000ft. I have ridden in the high alps before, and had varying experiences. A few times I didn’t feel the altitude at all (Teide, Teneriffe) and other times I felt like suffocating (Galibier, Furka). Since I don‘t want to leave this up to chance, I chose to acclimatize as much as I can (living at 200ft of elevation)

My set up:
I use a Hypoxico Everest II to generate the simulated altitude, and a head tent
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The device looks terrible, but who cares… I would have loved to use a full tent, but I have a sloping roof in basically every room, so it doesn’t fit anywhere. I have put a mattress topper in the head tent to make everything nice and cozy in there. Before that I was always touching the cold metal beams.

Experience so far:
Since I haven’t spent a prolonged period at high altitude this might still be very raw. The first night in the tent was pretty rough, although the simulated altitude was rather low, the sound of the Hypoxico (which sounds like heavy breathing) and the new feeling had me awake for very long. Since then, I have spend 7 to 9 hours every night in there + 1 to 2 hours during the day, and kind say it bothers me much anymore.
I had to put the Hypoxico in the other room, because it is very loud and annoying.
I was pleasantly surprised by the tent not getting to hot or humid over night. I definitely sweat more than before using the tent, than without it, but it is absolutely fine. Also, keeping the air intake cold (the room the Everest II stands is climatized) helps a lot.
I go into the tent every night, around 30 to 60 minutes before I want to sleep. Then I measure my blood oxygen and see if it stabilizes (so far it always has). Then I measure the absolute density of oxygen in the tent and if everything checks out, I try to sleep. So far, my blood oxygen is a little on the high side, staying at 94 to 95% relative level (when around 90 is preferred). That will likely change with the altitude increasing.
According to my Whoop, recovery, HRV, and RHR haven’t been effected much so far. This is a little surprising, but certainly a positive.

I have reduced training intensity for the periods of hypoxia training, while ramping up volume a little. This should make recovery a little easier.
I am really interested in how this plays out and if it helps me conquering the alps.
Also, looking forward to your input :v:

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I have no altitude tent experience so can’t comment on that but I’m familiar with the big Swiss passes - what’s the event?

But this is a dry run for my A+ event this year, which is even higher:

Sanetsch and Grand Dixence are stunning and never ending climbs if you’ll have time to enjoy the views. I can only talk to my experience but I didn’t notice any altitude impact on either of them and you’re not really at altitude for any length of time if racing up. But GL, I guess it won’t hurt and marginal gains coming.

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According to a study I read recently, performance of a cyclist at 6,000ft is around 92.7% for an acclimatized athlete and 88.9% for an non-acclimated athlete, compared to sea level performance. 6,000ft is well over 1,000ft below the respective summits.
Factoring in the additional performance benefits of altitude training, and the difference might be pretty tangible.
Also, considering that the climbs of the Dolomites top out at between 8,000 and 9,000ft, the Potential advantage is further increased.
Not saying this is a make or break thing, but 3% increase on an FTP can be months worth of training…

Agreed but I meant you will only get that benefit for about 20mn between 1800m and 2200m on Sanetsch which probably won’t make a huge difference, but every little counts.

If you’re racing and competitive then it’s different.

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We are definitely talking marginal gains, that’s for sure.
One thing however, that is often underestimated is the ability to recover at altitude. Recover during riding and also when resting. The hotel in Crans Montana is at 5,000ft, where oxygen density is only 82% of that of sea level, which can impair recovery.
Also, during acclimatization, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience malaise, sleeping discomfort, and even nausea. Not saying this is the same for everybody, but reducing the risk of this happening during or right before a stage race might be my biggest motivation of hypoxia training

Good luck in any case, roads should be good by June and climbs are great.

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Just rediscovered that I once started this thread.
I have spend a total of 6 week (3 weeks, 2 weeks off, 3 weeks) at simulated altitude before HR Crans Montana. I had to crank the altitude all the way up to 11(000 feet), because my body (according to blood oxygen level) didn’t respond enough to have a potential effect on hemoglobin production, at lower levels of altitude.
I was surprised by how little of a problem heat and getting sweaty was, but it was still annoying, and didn’t improve sleep. I tried to spend around 9 hours during the night, and another 2-3 during the day. Home office was helpful here.
On the weekend, I tried spending 10 to 12 hours consecutively in the tent.

What did it all help? Honest answer? No idea. I felt great during the event, didn’t struggle with altitude and had good power. However, I struggled with heat (in The Valley) and had problems with the length of the second day.

Probably the effect is easier felt at greater altitude. It was an interesting experience, but really is a marginal gain, and only useful for the right occasion.