Velocita Ascensionale Media

I’m sticking my neck out here, but I’d wager that most of you didn’t know that the VAM you used to find on Garmin devices (mine is nowhere to be found anymore) is actually Italian for ‘average climbing speed’. Or I could be wrong and I was the only one who thought it stood for Vertical Altitude Meters…which really makes no sense now that I look at it.

Anyway, I’ve added this (now called Vertical Speed, I think) to the front screen of my cycling computer because I’m going to see if I can use it for Tour du Mont Blanc training.

VAM, VS, whatever you want to call it, is the speed in which you go up, in meters/feet when you climb, i.e. not the speed on the road, but the speed you are going up, vertically. I’m not explaining this well, but you get it.

I have a client who uses VAM as a sign to gauge whether he’s climbing well or not. He thinks he can do an Etape du Tour, for example, at a rate of 1000 vertical meters per hour. If he climbed Mont Ventoux at this rate he’d reach the top in a little over 1:30, which is a great time (it helps that he weighs 57 kg).

I’ve never used this and don’t even know how it works on the computer, but will start looking at it tomorrow and see how I can implement the data into my training. With an objective that has so many kilometers of climbing in it, it might be useful to know what VAM I need to hold for up to 20 hours, even if it’s nearly certain to be all thrown out the window on race day.

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