riding a motorcycle at altitude guide

Some of the best riding can be found in the various mountain ranges of the world.

That doesn’t mean you have to head for the Himalayas and the famous Khardung La, classed as the highest motorable road in the world at 5,359m above sea level – there are a number of popular passes in Europe including the Stelvio and Grossglockner which rise above the 2,500m mark and are famed for both their superb riding and amazing views.

Anything above this height puts you in danger of suffering from altitude sickness, which can occur when you climb too quickly. Although this doesn’t affect everyone, it’s the decreasing atmospheric pressure which causes the problem, as your body is unable to take in as much oxygen.

Often this leads to nothing more than nausea, exhaustion or dizziness – but it can be more serious than that, and in extreme circumstances even fatal with fluid building up on the lungs, brain or both.

Learning to spot the signs and knowing what to do about it is key, and in the November 2016 issue of RiDE Magazine, official Continental partner GlobeBusters have been giving their advice to readers:

  • Go Slow And Steady

If you climb too high, too fast you could increase the risk of suffering from altitude sickness. The basic rule here is to ascend slowly, and in stages to allow you to acclimatise. Ride high and sleep low is possible.

  • Stay Hydrated

At altitude the air can be very dry, so you need to ensure you are taking on plenty of water – roughly double the amount you’d normally intake. Also try avoiding alcohol.

  • Take Your Time

This applies to everything when at altitude. You can run out of energy and feel breathless very easily, so don’t go rushing into the hotel with all your things, or try to set up camp as quickly as possible.

  • Spot The Signs

Look out for dehydration, headaches, nausea and breathlessness. If anyone in your group starts experiencing these, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • Take A Pill

One pill often used to help with acclimatisation to altitude is Diamox, but there can be side effects which would be risky when riding, especially on tight mountain passes. Speak to your GP in advance of any trip to find out more about what it might do.

  • Have A Plan

The only cure for altitude sickness is to start heading back down. For that reason, it’s worth having a plan as to how you’ll get yourself or one of your group down to medical attention before you go.

GlobeBusters is run by double World Record holders Kevin and Julia Sanders, and their team have tested our complete range of adventure tyres on various different terrain types around the globe.

You can find out more about our adventure tyre range here.