High Altitude Cycling Tour

With her golden gentle touch, the sun highlights the numerous hues of the African Highveld on this mountainous landscape. The proud forest of pine trees, with its tribe of wood and needles, serves as the perfect backdrop to the view of Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge. The sun wakes-up and her rays cascade over the land; the biome explodes with an array of colour and sounds chime in celebration of the new day.

Now that we’ve set the scene – isn’t Crystal Springs just the place to be for a high altitude cycling tour?! With mystical forests, breath-taking misty views and the sounds of nature all around you, the magic of Crystal Springs is yours to discover on your off-road mountain bike.

High Altitude Location

When you are at a high altitude location (higher than 2000 metres) there is less oxygen and it tends to get colder. Altitude and the effects on health and athletic ability is a highly controversial topic and altitude training is often referred to by athletes as ‘magic shoes’, as it works for some but not for everyone.

Crystal Springs has an altitude of 1778 metres above sea level, offering high altitude benefits for endurance athletes and fun activities amidst beautiful surroundings for the whole family. Crystal Springs will literally leave you feeling well-rested, healthy and ready to take on the world.

What is altitude training?

In high altitude environments, during a cycling training session, each breath will deliver less oxygen to your muscles. When a cyclist gets used to breathing “thinner” air their performance in competitions at lower altitude can be enhanced. This is due to the cyclist acquiring more red blood cells which then allows their blood to carry more oxygen. At first, it may appear to the cyclist that they’re putting forth more effort to perform due to an increased rate of perceived exertion caused by altitude-induced hypoxia. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body, or a region of the body, is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level. The higher altitude causes a form of hypoxia due to the air being thinner, but as a cyclist acclimates to the high altitude environment, the body adapts and more energy gets activated due to the extra red blood cells that allow the body to carry more oxygen.

This effect on red blood cells can enhance the performance of a cyclist by 1 to 2 per cent. While that sounds like a tiny improvement, it can be the difference between missing the final cut for a competitive team and earning a medal.

Can the average person benefit from altitude training?

Are you planning to work on that summer body?! Well, even If you aren’t a professional cyclist, you likely will still benefit from altitude training. In recent studies, it was noted that non-athletes who work out in high-altitude areas may experience cardiovascular benefits. Similar to that of a professional cyclist, the increase of red blood cells creates a boost in oxygen and energy, which increases endurance and can help you get in good shape in a shorter period. It is, however, important to consider many more factors like your lifestyle, diet, fitness level and the period in which you will train in the high altitude environment. Research has shown that a minimum of two weeks is required to start experiencing the “magic benefits” of high altitude training.

However, an argument can be made for and against altitude training as it is entirely up to you and how your body reacts to it – everyone is different! For tips on how to prepare for a high altitude training session, read our previous blog here.

What are you waiting for?! Get a few buddies to join in and plan that high altitude cycling tour of a lifetime together. Enjoy all the natural splendour that the great outdoors at Crystal Springs has to offer. From the strenuous hills to the mystical roads through majestic pine forests and to watching the African sun set on the horizon over this mountainous landscape. This adventure will surely be one not to forget.