Getting Ready for Ladakh

This week is going to be about preparing our body for 11,800 ft (3,575 m) arrival.  We fly from Geneva, Switzerland to Delhi, India connecting to a flight to Leh, India.  Once we arrive to Leh Airport or Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, we will see signs posted about altitude sickness.  The airport is at 10,744 ft (3,256 m) above sea level and we ride up in a vehicle climbing up another thousand feet through the market then towards the first check point on Khardungla Road.

Once again, our backyard will be a road that goes up to the high pass of over 17,000 ft (5,151 m).  The cycling up to Khardungla pass is incredible and hard.  The weather can change anytime on the way to South Pulu, the largest village between Leh and the summit.  It is where one has to decide whether to continue or not.  It’s the last place to get food and hot beverage.  There is a check point to check permits to summit the pass and if the weather is really bad, South Pulu will close the road down and no one can go through.  The road after South Pulu is not paved and it’s all dirt road to the summit which is another 7 miles and the higher up you go, the slower it is pedaling a bike.  Vehicles and cyclists will have to wait or head back down to wait for another day.  There is no leniency from the Indian soldiers, they are strict enforcing rules specially with bad weather.

This will be our second time living in Leh for more than a month and we learned many things about our body the first time.  We were training for 9 days of mountain bike stage racing that time so we rode at lot, up and down big passes.  It’s an amazing and exhilarating feeling to go over passes.

I made some garlic and seaweed soup yesterday.  It’s the first meal of a series of pre-altitude meals before we leave.  The meals are almost vegetarian with less amount of protein than what we normally consume.  In the end of the week, it will be mostly carbohydrate until we get to Leh.  Also, our meals will be less fatty than normal.  Basic pre-altitude meals will include a lot of garlic (a big clove), beets, beans, green veggies, bread and pasta.  We continue to take Iron supplement as normal and it’s a supplement we take regularly.  A trip to the pharmacy yesterday to re-stock on Iron for our trip.  Hydration is another important prep before and during exposure to altitude.

This summer training in the French Alps have been a combination of strength conditioning, circuit training, hiking, minimal running and cycling.  The addition of gym work required a lot of time for us to recover for a hike or run or even cycle.  The main focus is consistency which ever we do so it worked out pretty good.  There was no specific racing goal except for the 10K in Marathon Mont Blanc when we first arrived to Chamonix.

This week will be an easy week to allow the body to recover before another block of mountain training at high altitude.  We also have a goal race to work for and we are pretty excited about training for that.

Once we get to Leh, we are going to allow the body to adapt for a couple of days then see how it goes.  Altitude sickness is random and doesn’t pick any type of fit person or sedentary person.  There’s no known reason how or why it happens to a person however, there are some helpful things that can be done to help prevent it.

The first 2 days will consists of very light meals (mostly carbs) and easy walking around.  Digestion will slow down.  We need to keep hydrating religiously the whole day.  It takes about a week to adapt, we hope because it could be more but the body will at some point.

I’m going to document our 41 days of training for the 44km Pong Yaeng Trail Run in Thailand.  It should be fun and very interesting!

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