The Summer of VAM

Fri, 05/20/2011 - 1:18pm by Andy Shen

UPDATE: Strava is now on Android. Go here to download the app.

A virtual race on our training climbs

We’ve partnered with Strava, Ifixbyx, and enduranceWERX to bring you a fun little event, a virtual race on three of our local climbs to crown a KOM and QOM. The race will run from now until the last day of the Tour, and will be contested on Harlem Hill, the River Road Ranger Station climb, and Ash Street in Piermont. You can tackle each climb as many times as you want, Strava will automatically total your 3 best times and put you on the leaderboard.

The fastest man and woman will win year-long subscriptions to Strava, a $60 value, and, of course, bragging rights. Additionally we will handicap all racers and award $100 gift certificates to Ifixbyx and enduranceWERX to one winner.

Here’s how the handicapping works: Cat 1 men will post their actual time, seconds will be deducted from other racers as follows:

Cat 2 - 10 seconds
Cat 3 - 20 seconds
Cat 4 - 35 seconds
Cat 5 - 50 seconds

Cat 1 - 20 seconds
Cat 2 - 35 seconds
Cat 3 - 50 seconds
Cat 4 - 65 seconds

Non USCF participants get no time bonuses, USCF categories will be determined on 7/24.


Strava is a GPS based social network for cyclists. Think of it as an online Training Peaks or Golden Cheetah, but with emphasis on routes and rides instead of power. You can upload a ride from your Garmin or Fisica, or use your iPhone and Strava’s free app (an Android app is on the way). Strava’s iPhone app is really cool. All you do is start it when you begin, stop it when you’re done, and your ride is automatically sent to the Strava site. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Once uploaded, Strava plots your ride, extracts segments of your ride that other riders have flagged, and compares your performance on those segments to its community. As you mouse over the elevation plot, a dot traverses the map above – so cool. You can even compare yourself to other riders on the map and the plot – you can see yourself virtually pull away or get dropped. If you don’t have a power meter, Strava has its own algorithm to approximate your power output (it’s most accurate on steep climbs).

Strava has given our readers a coupon for the duration of our race. Use the code AS2M11 and you’ll have a free subscription. Our race is called ‘The Summer of VAM’, go here and join up. Precise start and stop points of the three climbs can be found there.


Regular readers will know we’re big fans of Mark Purdy’s work. You can check out his many features with us here, here, here, here, here, and here. Aside from his obvious technical prowess as a Barnett certified mechanic, Mark does a few things differently that sets him apart from the typical bike shop.

Mark specializes in race bikes, and he takes jobs by appointment instead of a first come first serve basis. This means you won’t have to leave your bike at the shop to hold your spot in line, so you’re without your bike for the minimum amount of time – Mark actually cares that you’re able to train. And with a mostly racer clientele, you can ask Mark questions like “Which wheels and tires should I use for Battenkill?” and he won’t look like you have two heads on your shoulders.

Finally, it’s nice to talk to the guy who’s going to work on your bike and know your instructions aren’t going through a game of Telephone. Apply your $100 winnings to a tune-up, or bank it for some future catastrophe. Every racer can use some Purdy some time.


I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the studio that Mark shares with Chad Butts of enduranceWERX, and I’ve had many opportunities to eavesdrop on Chad’s coaching and bike fit sessions. In that time I’ve learned a lot and have had many lingering mysteries answered (Why do they check you for flexibility when you’re never that stretched out on a bike?).

I’ve been really impressed with Chad’s depth of knowledge on bike fits and the way he takes time to explain what he’s doing to his clients. If he makes a change to your position he’ll tell you why and what impact it’ll have on your pedaling. I particularly like his collaborative approach, using projected video so his clients can see themselves and give their input as well.

You can use your $100 credit towards a fit, coaching, CompuTrainer sessions, or for some sweet Rotor Cranks or Bont shoes.

...and you're off!

So to recap: You’ll need a Garmin, Fisica, or iPhone to play. This is a fun unsanctioned virtual race, participate at your own peril. There’s only one stop sign on the course (on Ash), so hammer away to your heart’s delight but please ride responsibly. We’ll use your category on 7/24 to handicap your time, but if you delay your upgrade to sandbag this race you’ll be mocked mercilessly.

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Yeah, Strava will add it all
By: Andy Shen
Sat, 05/21/2011 - 3:19pm

Yeah, Strava will add it all up automatically (minus the handicaps), and make a leaderboard.

That makes a lot more sense
By: Pierced Head Tube
Sat, 05/21/2011 - 1:14pm

Andy - given that its a combined time for all three - these handicaps make much more sense - thanks for clarifying.

You realize it's the total
By: Andy Shen
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 10:51pm

You realize it's the total time for all three climbs that matters, right?

By: Truth
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 10:19pm

A cat 4 WOMAN

By: Truth
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 10:18pm

A cat 4 will win Harlem Hill, hands down.

Handicaps are for total
By: Andy Shen
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 8:14pm

Handicaps are for total times. Winning time might be in the 8-8:30 range.

Seems like a big handicap on HH
By: Pierced Head Tube
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 8:01pm

Are these the same handicaps on all three hills - HH and Ash seem to short for these kinds of spreads...there are Cat 5s that can do HH in under 60 seconds - that would leave a Cat 1/2 to do it in 10 seconds...that's nippy.

By: Lucas Lorica
Fri, 05/20/2011 - 7:10pm


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