Climbing and Math, both which hurt my head – Sunday Training

Bike route 542064 – powered by Bikemap 

Training km’s: 94km
Training time: approx 4:00 w/o breaks
Week 5 total to date: 134km (6:30)
Week 5 goal: 200km
Total training to date: 688km (30:46)

On Sunday, we did what amounts to a simulation of one of our days in Europe. ~100km with a mountain ascent. The ride, with breaks to relax and eat etc. took us all told about 5 hours, which I think will be very similar to when we are in Europe. It is a time which is fast enough that we can explore and relax, but slow enough that we don’t die, although we did go pretty hard on Sunday.

For me, I wanted to assess where I am at in terms of conditioning, and calculate my VAM (vertical ascent meters) and W/kg (Watts per kg) compared to last year at about this time. To see how you do this with a little math and without investing $1200 into a power meter read the rest of the post.

First, you need to know the mountain. I don’t mean this in a zen-karate-type way, although that may not hurt, but just simply, the profile. According to mama google, the unverified numbers for Cypress Mountain Road are:

15km – 3008ft. (917m)—-
14km – 2980ft. (908m)0.9%
13km – 2920ft. (890m)1.8%
12km – 2823ft. (860m)3.0%
11km – 2575ft. (784m)7.6%
10km – 2391ft. (729m)5.5%
9km – 2125ft. (648m)8.1%
8km – 1980ft. (604m)4.4%
7km – 1747ft. (533m)7.1%
6km – 1502ft. (458m)7.5%
5km – 1377ft. (420m)3.8%
4km – 1161ft. (354m)6.6%
3km – 906ft. (276m)7.8%
2km – 697ft. (212m)6.4%
1.5km – 669ft. (203m)3.6%
1km – 649ft. (198m)1.4%
0km – 641ft. (195m)0.3%

The reason why I have shown the 1.5km marker is because that is just before the hut which seems to be a common place to start timing from. As well, the mountain really flattens out after kilometer 12, so for the following calculation I consider from km-1.5 to km-12 for a total distance of 10.5km of hurt.

The following formula explains how to calculate VAM, W/kg and raw Watts:

(W/kg) = VAM (m/hour) / (Gradient factor) x 100

W/kg = (657/(40/60)) / (Gradient factor) x 100 – Here: 657 is m gained, 40 min (my time)/60min (1 hour).

W/kg = (657/(40/60)) / [2+((657/10500)/10)] x 100 – Gradient factor is: [2 + (% grade/10)]

w/kg = 985.4999999950725000000246375 / 262.57142857142857

w/kg = 3.753

So, my Watts/kg in this ascent of Cypress was 3.753 which is a little disappointing for me because I thought I was feeling stronger (and faster) than last year. Last year, I did the same distance in 36 minutes or 1095 VAM / 262.57 = 4.17W/kg

Now, there are a few things to consider. First, I am riding a strange bike which is a converted mountain bike with 700c wheels, only one 53 tooth chainring and a 12-23 cassette, so when I would like to spin, I cannot. As well, the bike is about 3kg heavier than my Look, which I was riding last year when I did my personal best of 36 minutes. Second, I think I am about 2kg heavier than this time last year, so I have a difference of about 5 extra kg than last year, which makes my raw Watts closer at 251.5 Watts (2010) vs 258.5W (2009) over 40ish minutes.

Interesting to note that after I did the TT test at the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific and wrote a post about my performance, or lack thereof, here, I concluded: “For the sake of argument I’ll assume I’m somewhere around 3.9W/kg or an average of 257W.” According to my climb yesterday, I was 3.75 W/kg over 40 minutes, which is likely 3.80 W/kg over 30minutes, which is pretty close to what I tested at and estimated in the lab, but still lower than last year.

Patricia’s numbers, which I think are fantastic considering she has only climbed two mountains in her life, this one twice, and is just getting started doing serious workouts on the bike, look like this:

56 min ascent. (56/60 = .933)

W/kg = (657/.933333) / 262.57142857142857

W/kg = 703.929 VAM / 262.57

W/kg = 2.68

2.68 W/kg over 56 minutes is likely around 2.80 W/kg over 30 minutes which is the normal testing duration.


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