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View Poll Results: What is your VAM?

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  • Greater than 1067

    3 8.11%
  • 915 to 1066

    4 10.81%
  • 763 to 914

    9 24.32%
  • 610 to 762

    9 24.32%
  • 457 to 609

    6 16.22%
  • 305 to 456

    1 2.70%
  • Other

    5 13.51%
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  1. #1
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    How fast do you climb?

    A couple of years ago, I did a similar climbing poll based upon feet per hour. I thought it would be fun to do it again but this time Euro style and use VAM. From Wiki with edits by Hermes for brevity.

    VAM is an acronym for the Italian phrase 'velocità ascensionale media,' which means 'average ascent speed' and is the speed of elevation gain, in meters per hour.

    VAM is a measure of fitness and speed and can be useful for making relative comparisons of performances and estimating a rider's power output per kilogram of body mass.

    Dr Ferrari, who coined the term, also stated that every one percent increase in average gradient increases VAM by 50. For example, a 1650 VAM (pro cyclist metric) on a climb of 8 percent average grade is a performance equivalent to a VAM of 1700 on 9 percent average grade. Ambient conditions (e.g. friction, air resistance) have less effect on steeper slopes (absorb less power) since speeds are lower than on gentler slopes


    The other interesting calculation is W/Kg which can be determined by using this calculator by inputing VAM and the % grade. http://www.cyclingfitness.net/online-vam-calculator/

    The best data will come from climbs longer than 20 minutes but use the data you have.

    STRAVA users get their VAM calculated on segments by the software.

    To calculate VAM from Feet per hour multiple feet per hour by .3048. So 2000 fph is equal to 609 meters per hour or 609 VAM.
    Last edited by Hermes; 04-16-12 at 07:57 PM.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  2. #2
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Just under 650. It's pathetic, really - but wait until I'm back to my racing weight, and I'll show you...
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  3. #3
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    It took a while to convert my Garmin data, but I got 555 on a recent climb. I might find other one mile or longer climbs that are in the 600-700 range. I'm the wrong weight group and age group for huge climbing numbers.

    This is my POV, I like to find a climbing pace based on slope as a target;

    Let’s look at a hypothetical cyclist who weights 200 pounds, rides a 18 pound road bike, and carries 5 pounds of clothing & gear and can produce 200 watts of continuous power.

    How fast can this cyclist travel while producing 200 watts?

    Flat & windless = 20 mph
    3% climb & windless = 10.5 mph
    6% climb & windless = 6.5 mph
    9% climb & windless = 4.5 mph
    12% climb & windless = 3.5 mph
    15% climb & windless = 2.75 mph

    Deciding on a practical power level is not easy. Not only does power output vary on an individual basis, the rider’s weight is also a key factor. Climbing ability comes down to power to weight ratio. Secondly, the duration of the power output needs to match the duration of the climb.

    My personal numbers, based on supervised Computrainer data after a one hour sustained 180 watt effort is as follows: 600 watts for 2 minutes and 225 watts for 20 minutes. I can also average 200 watts for one hour after a 15 minute warm-up. The issue for me is that at 200 pounds, I'm never going to be a great climber.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 04-17-12 at 09:52 AM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Forget all the statistics, time and elevation bruhaha.
    I climb like a rock.

  5. #5
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    The biggest hill in my county is the local landfill. I have no idea if I can climb or not. Probably not. However, this is the shore, so the wind makes up for the flat.

  6. #6
    Desert Rat
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    No idea.
    Have I mentioned that I love riding my bikes?
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  7. #7
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    900-1000 on 40 min hills, a little over 1100 on 10 min hills.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Wham, VAM, thank you Mam (or sir). A couple of years ago, I was well over 1,000, and improving. Now, much less. Just getting my legs back after a big drop off. It's actually fairly interesting. With a little bit of riding, I can fake my way through flat'ish rides, and still appear to be a strong rider. But climbing is another matter entirely. Hope to continue to increase my riding and drop 15-20 lbs. in the near future. I have one suit. Going to a wedding in early May. Really need to drop some weight so the pants fit.
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  9. #9
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    A couple of years ago, I did a similar climbing poll based upon feet per hour. I thought it would be fun to do it again but this time Euro style and use VAM.
    Then why didn't you choose round numbers for your bins? You just converted round numbers in feet to funky numbers in meters. Amend and resubmit.
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
    Then why didn't you choose round numbers for your bins? You just converted round numbers in feet to funky numbers in meters. Amend and resubmit.
    Because I liked the 3000 feet per hour as a benchmark and made everything off of that. I cannot amend the poll choices even if I want to.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  11. #11
    George Krpan
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    Brings to mind a funny story. I'm climbing a longish, steepish climb and I come up to these three guys staring down at their wattage output on their computers. I was on a singlespeed, they were seated, I was standing, no choice but to stand. I couldn't help thinking that they might have climbed faster if they were paying more attention to their climbing and less attention to their computers.

  12. #12
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    The best number I see on Strava lately for an extended climb is 682 from the Diablo junction to summit. And I was having a pretty good day, for me. Heck, I've dropped my weight to under 140 and have been working my butt off. Next time around I'm picking different parents.

    Still, I keep telling myself i climb a lot faster than all the fat smokers on the couch. I think I'm right, but the truth is I don't want to have to test my hypothesis. I'd hate it if I were wrong.
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  13. #13
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    The lowest group starts at 305? Ha! I wish!

  14. #14
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Just for grins I calculated my VAM based on the daily run we used to do 25 years ago (early 40's). 4.5+ miles, 1425' of climbing with 33 minutes being a really good time. The VAM of 790 is better than I can do riding in my 60's.
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  15. #15
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Gila fit 1300+ on a 60 minute climb at altitude.

    Right now, more like 950-ish.
    Last edited by Racer Ex; 04-17-12 at 03:37 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Ask Mr Owl, he knows everything....
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  17. #17
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Until I reach the top...

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  18. #18
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Looking at my Strava VAM values from a century I rode in the Santa Monica mountains last Sat. - they're really all over the place!

    The lowest is 607 but the highest is 3,076 . . . which should be impossible, certainly for me. For the poll I went with 610-762 since that seemed to represent the most often seen values on my Strava. Here's a link if you want to see what I mean (and see if you think I voted correctly):

    http://app.strava.com/rides/6788377

    Not that I claim to totally understand VAM, though I do appreciate the education by Hermes!

    Rick / OCRR

  19. #19
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I did a hill climb race up Kings Mountain in November 2011 - 4.32 miles, 469 meters, 6.77% average grade. My VAM was 864. My average power from my PM was 240 watts. Using the calculator I inserted 864 and 7% grade which resulted in a 3.2 w/kg. Using 170 pounds, that calculates to 247 watts. So in this case the VAM, body weight and average grade rounded to the nearest whole number returned a reasonable W/kg.

    On that climb, the grade is steeper at the top and there are switchbacks with 10 to 12 % grade. Typically, I used lower power on the easier sections and hit the steeper sections with 280 plus watts as well as the last section. Putting out more power on the harder sections of climbs or into the wind results in faster climb times for the same average power.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  20. #20
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I looked up a mass start hill climb from about a month ago, and my VAM was 736 for a 30' climb. I was DFL in the race, and it wasn't a PR for that climb, but is the data I can find.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
    The lowest is 607 but the highest is 3,076 . . . which should be impossible, certainly for me. For the poll I went with 610-762 since that seemed to represent the most often seen values on my Strava. Here's a link if you want to see what I mean (and see if you think I voted correctly):

    http://app.strava.com/rides/6788377
    Strava's VAM calculation looks a little buggy. If you look at the numbers for your 3076 climb they don't make sense. A .5km climb with 92m of elevation gain (18%) done at an estimated power of 148W in 1:48. Something doesn't add up. The elevation profile doesn't look like a 92m gain so I think their calculations are just messed up.

  22. #22
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Just under 650. It's pathetic, really - but wait until I'm back to my racing weight, and I'll show you...
    I will wait patiently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    It took a while to convert my Garmin data, but I got 555 on a recent climb. I might find other one mile or longer climbs that are in the 600-700 range. I'm the wrong weight group and age group for huge climbing numbers.

    This is my POV, I like to find a climbing pace based on slope as a target;

    Let’s look at a hypothetical cyclist who weights 200 pounds, rides a 18 pound road bike, and carries 5 pounds of clothing & gear and can produce 200 watts of continuous power.

    How fast can this cyclist travel while producing 200 watts?

    Flat & windless = 20 mph
    3% climb & windless = 10.5 mph
    6% climb & windless = 6.5 mph
    9% climb & windless = 4.5 mph
    12% climb & windless = 3.5 mph
    15% climb & windless = 2.75 mph

    Deciding on a practical power level is not easy. Not only does power output vary on an individual basis, the rider’s weight is also a key factor. Climbing ability comes down to power to weight ratio. Secondly, the duration of the power output needs to match the duration of the climb.

    My personal numbers, based on supervised Computrainer data after a one hour sustained 180 watt effort is as follows: 600 watts for 2 minutes and 225 watts for 20 minutes. I can also average 200 watts for one hour after a 15 minute warm-up. The issue for me is that at 200 pounds, I'm never going to be a great climber.
    Bigger men generate more power. Induran was big for a pro cyclist and so was Armstrong. Lose a little weight and add some more power. You may never be a great climber but you can be a very good climber.

    Quote Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
    900-1000 on 40 min hills, a little over 1100 on 10 min hills.
    You are on the leader board so far. Nice numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terex View Post
    Wham, VAM, thank you Mam (or sir). A couple of years ago, I was well over 1,000, and improving. Now, much less. Just getting my legs back after a big drop off. It's actually fairly interesting. With a little bit of riding, I can fake my way through flat'ish rides, and still appear to be a strong rider. But climbing is another matter entirely. Hope to continue to increase my riding and drop 15-20 lbs. in the near future. I have one suit. Going to a wedding in early May. Really need to drop some weight so the pants fit.
    As I recall, you had the top spot last year in my poll.

    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    The best number I see on Strava lately for an extended climb is 682 from the Diablo junction to summit. And I was having a pretty good day, for me. Heck, I've dropped my weight to under 140 and have been working my butt off. Next time around I'm picking different parents.

    Still, I keep telling myself i climb a lot faster than all the fat smokers on the couch. I think I'm right, but the truth is I don't want to have to test my hypothesis. I'd hate it if I were wrong.
    You are a double century guy where endurance is the premium metric. If you want more power, you have to focus on power. Endurance is a speed killer. IMO, genetics is overrated except if one wants to be a professional athlete. I like my genetics and prefer to work harder. There are a lot of exceptional athletes that just work hard and excel on what may be considered mediocre genetics. And then there are the genetic phenoms that are supposed to set the world on fire and flame out themselves.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  23. #23
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Just for grins I calculated my VAM based on the daily run we used to do 25 years ago (early 40's). 4.5+ miles, 1425' of climbing with 33 minutes being a really good time. The VAM of 790 is better than I can do riding in my 60's.
    That is a nice VAM from 25 years ago... What is it today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    Gila fit 1300+ on a 60 minute climb at altitude.

    Right now, more like 950-ish.
    Sore back... Nice VAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
    Looking at my Strava VAM values from a century I rode in the Santa Monica mountains last Sat. - they're really all over the place!

    The lowest is 607 but the highest is 3,076 . . . which should be impossible, certainly for me. For the poll I went with 610-762 since that seemed to represent the most often seen values on my Strava. Here's a link if you want to see what I mean (and see if you think I voted correctly):

    http://app.strava.com/rides/6788377

    Not that I claim to totally understand VAM, though I do appreciate the education by Hermes!

    Rick / OCRR
    You are welcome. You are another double guy so endurance is key and that VAM will serve you well.

    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    I looked up a mass start hill climb from about a month ago, and my VAM was 736 for a 30' climb. I was DFL in the race, and it wasn't a PR for that climb, but is the data I can find.
    I was waiting for the big man on campus to weigh in. Nice VAM.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  24. #24
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    At my best, a few years ago I did a local climb of 4.4 miles and 1850' in 33 minutes for a VAM of 1025. Now I was lighter and training then and life has gotten in the way of that kind of riding. That climb was part of a longer ride so it wasn't even a full out effort. More recently, this weekend's ride had a 6.4 mile 2147' climb I did in an hour for a VAM of 655. That climb came at mile 43 with 3000' of climbing already in my legs. I'm at least 18# heavier than I was in full training so that really drags on the hills. I'm working at lowering the weight and improving my power so I can climb better.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I can do 1100 for 20 minutes when I am going well. I usually assume 900-950 for all day climbing rides, a little less once above 8000' altitude.

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