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Horner's VAM
Last Post 09/24/2013 07:43 PM by bob etzler. 62 Replies.
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09/13/2013 03:23 PM

Written by a friend of mine.
formerly dkri


09/13/2013 04:46 PM
I am very suspect of this metric as I really dont think there is a specific rate that a given rider climbs up hills. Just too mamny variables -- it even changes from hill to hill for the same rider. And not simply because of the grade. It changes due to the surface conditions, length of the climb, wind, equipment, etc. So I think it is possibly useful when you compare VAM for one rider using exactly the same equipment under exactly the same weather conditions. Possibly to learn what kinds of grades and equipment make that rider ascend fastest. i do not think it is useful to compare VAM amongst different riders using different equipment on different days on different hills. Nor do I think one can define a physiologic high limit. Anyone who has ever ridden up hills knows that some riders are really fast going up long 5% grade hills. Others kick ass on the really steep stuff -- 15-20% shorter grades. Their VAMs can range wildly.

Exactly right. Comparing VAM on two different climbs about as valid as comparing average speed on two different TT's on different days without taking into account terrain, length or conditions. Extrpolating power from any of those numbers aint gonna be even close to accurate.
My point was that the quoted story didn't even get the maths right for their psuedo-science in the first place.


09/13/2013 04:59 PM
I think a 42 y/o on top form can climb with the best, that's not unbelievable. I doubt normally he could continue to recover as well as guys 10 yrs younger, even though a long career as a stage racer has trained his body to recover. What is really leveling the recovery field is that the other top guys have all done a hard stage race already so are not as fresh physically and mentally. Also like Horner says himself, he knows any big race now could be his last if he gets injured again.


09/13/2013 05:19 PM
Yes, yes and yes.... So many factors it's all conjecture without actual data. And then... there are real factors that will affect an athlete's power output on any given day... apart from anything illegal.

Interesting too that none of CH's detractors want to note the fact that he was the only rider in the Peloton climbing with the likes of Nibali and Froome in races leading up to this year's Giro and Tour before knee surgery put him out for the count. Given the circumstances leading up to the Vuelta, Horner comes in the freshest of any contender in the GC. That has to count for something and it is why I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Kick ass tomorrow Chris... Can't wait to read the Monday morning headlines!!


09/14/2013 05:04 PM
One thing that I was thinking while watching the replay of the final few K is that CH looks like he is riding his ass off standing on the pedals most of the time. Contrast that with the known dopers who sat comfortably as they ride away and put minutes on everyone.


09/14/2013 06:59 PM
Like Pantani?


09/14/2013 08:25 PM
My memory sucks but I don't remember MP standing like CH. MP would dance on the pedals to open a gap and then sit and spin away (MP did stand more than most though). It might be the stage that LA "gifted" to MP, I remember both of them standing about half of the time but that wasn't SOP in those days.


09/16/2013 05:08 PM
I'd love for anyone twiddling his thumbs over the VAM question to try it at home. The VAM math is easy enough, and the prediction should be even more accurate when you're dealing with yourself, since you've got access to accurate weights and reasonable comparability of variables. I've now tried ten or twelves times to compare on-board data (SRM) with observational VAM calculations. The closest correlation put my actual measured performance far, far beneath the VAM evaluation for the exact same ride segment. The word "absurd" comes to mind.

On the topic of comparisons in a general sense ... Let's say nearly everyone was doping in exactly the same way, with the same schedules and amounts, up until the year "X." Now let's say everyone stopped as of the year "X+1." What would we see? What would the racing look like, and how would it change? Even having been within the elite peloton during the period in which such changes are thought to have occurred, albeit in a more gradual way, leaves me far from convinced that I can see, let alone really understand, the differences "on the ground."

Moreover, since in real life, we know absolutely nothing about the extent to which every doping rider doped, or the extent to which each rider's doping increased his capacity relative to other doping riders, or whether the same profile of talent, top to bottom, was represented in a doped environment as would occur in a clean one, or whether a handful of always-clean riders now look to be better than they had done thanks to everyone else's sliding backward after getting off dope, or whether doping had any effect on the arc of plausible form available to a rider over his or her career, or whether some who stopped did so cold turkey while others gradually titrated themselves down as the detection ceiling lowered over their heads, or to what extent formerly abusing riders have compromised their native abilities to assimilate "clean" training (by disrupting normal endocrine feedback patterns or causing outright thromboembolic and LVH pathologies, etc.) — why would anyone make a confident pronouncement about how what they're seeing at the moment is evidence of some particular effect?


09/17/2013 08:31 AM
L-7 --I lost track of what your point is, but I have to say that last paragraph may be the longest sentence I have ever seen! Well crafted, my friend.
Orange Crush


09/17/2013 12:17 PM
Now wait a second Elle, what you are saying (unless I misread it) seems to be at direct odds with what guys like Fignon (or was it Lemond, or both?) noted about the speed in the peleton towards the end of their career. That sounded very observable to me. And if it's observable it can be quantified.


09/17/2013 05:41 PM
Yes, Orange Crush, that does seem to be the one thing that stands out. Not just Lemond, but others like van Hooydonck, Delion, Art Vierhouten etc. were also astonished by the sudden increase in routine speeds. Maybe this was more about that first shockwave of main-lining addiction, when guys were going from RBC ratios of 41% to the high fifties and even sixties. Bear in mind, however, that between 1990 and the advent of the 1.3.019 control on minimum weight, basic racing bicycles decreased by nearly three kilos, which certainly throws off comparisons at least for climbing, where variables are at least otherwise somewhat understandable. My point, though, is that these things are totally vexing to compare in any dependable scientific sense. If people want to talk about impressions, sensations, and suspicions, that's one thing. VAM, without real on-the-ground measurements and absolute answerability to critical variables, is complete nonsense parading as science. It's nothing but a numerical expression of what we refer to in my trade as "confirmation bias."

Stronz, I noted last night in "The Infatuations," the most recent novel by my favorite contemporary writer, Javier Marías, contains a sentence seven pages long. I'm not keeping up!
Cosmic Kid


09/17/2013 05:45 PM
Bear in mind, however, that between 1990 and the advent of the 1.3.019 control on minimum weight, basic racing bicycles decreased by nearly three kilos

Hmmmm.....I don't think so. 6.6 pounds in 8 years? Bikes in 1990 did not weigh 23 lbs. A lot of guys were already on carbon, titanium was common (after being rebadged), etc. Even steel bikes were routinely checking in around 20 lbs or less.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!


09/17/2013 09:23 PM
Wah! I meant two kilos. Sorry about that. In your pound thingies about 19 down to about 15. But to be honest I can't be sure except about the bikes that I rode. One model at the start of my career was an MBK, also issued to the men's squad of that team, that weighed a hair over 9 kilos. For hilly races, they would get it down a little lower with lighter wheels. (The last race bike I got, twelve years later or something, was an E5 that weighed 7 kilos in a 50cm.)

That said, the Grouch's Koga-Miyata, a team bike that he got along with the riders when he was a Tulip DS, really did weigh 10.5 kilos. I don't know the exact year. Granted, those were aimed at bumpy Classics, not mountainous tours.


09/17/2013 10:03 PM
Did someone say 1990 TdF bike? Here 'ya go!




I bet 18 pounds... maybe as low as 17'ish


09/18/2013 03:28 PM
Where's the part that shows the weight? These seem to be photographs of bikes. If we're just back to speculating again, I think I can get up to almost nineteen pounds with just the Time pedals, the Delta brakes, and Record seat pin. And the 32h Sigmas? And the Regal? This gives an idea of how good that guy really was.
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