WITH DOC EDWARDS
Doing anything physical at altitude is way tougher than at sea level because of lower oxygen levels. With that in mind, consider the plight of riders at the 2017 Dakar Rally who faced six days of racing in the Andes, often above 10,000 feet. Knowing this, American Dakar hope Ricky Brabec consulted with Dr. Johnathan Edwards to better prepare himself for the rally.
Besides being a competitive cyclist and motocrosser, Doc Edwards has been a team doctor at the Tour de France as well as for the KTM factory rally team. The steps he had Brabec follow are applicable to anyone who wants to get ready for low-oxygen environments.
“There were several things that went into preparing Ricky for the altitude. The first thing was to make sure Ricky had a good cardio base training program. Setting up a hypoxic generator and an altitude tent was the next
thing. This is an interesting story because Ricky couldn’t afford the typical hypoxic generator and tent for $5,000, so I showed him how to make one himself.” The construction uses PVC pipe and vinyl; the tent fully encloses the bed, and while not absolutely air-tight, this allows the hypoxic generator
to drop oxygen levels significantly.
“While he was in the altitude tent, I had to reassure him a lot. I received a lot of texts asking if it was okay to have his oxygen levels so low at night. I also
helped him with the timing of how long to stay in the tent. If someone does it for too long, they can actually de-train and become fatigued. “The final thing I helped Ricky with was how to naturally optimize his iron
levels and his weight. Through eating liver, taking certain vitamins, cutting carbs, and learning to eat a whole-food diet, he was able to cut the weight
necessary and his iron levels were spot on. It’s all about optimization. For
Ricky’s weight, our goal was [for him] to lose 10 pounds, though we didn’t quite reach that. He went to Dakar between 205 to 210 pounds. And my main goal for iron is to medically optimize his blood iron levels as well as his ferritin
levels. Ferritin is the protein that carries iron in the blood. The goal for ferritin is above 125 on the lab tests, and we achieved that.”
And Brabec’s take on all of this? “I’m kind of still on that same program [except for sleeping in the altitude tent, which should only be used as a tune-up and not constantly],” he points out. “I feel good; my energy is through the
roof, and I’m not really ever tired even though I’m always wide-open.” WANT MORE Follow Ricky on Instagram @rickybrabec.