Sunday, 7 April 2013

Ride Ascent Ratio (RAR)

A little while ago I devised a simple ratio to help me understand what sort of effort I'd put in relative to distance, irrelevant of other metrics all I wanted was a simple "how hard was is" sort of base measurement in order to make sense of ride intensity, relative to the average speed I may have returned.

In the early days of cycling, you become very focused on average speed as your basic indicator for how you are performing. However, there are so many things that contribute to average speed ranging from weather, road surface, whether you are alone or in a group and if you are well or not, amongst a host of other things.

One of the big dictators of average speed is your ride profile.  A flat route or a hilly route dictates a lot, other mitigating factors apart.  Assuming you are well and it's a perfect day, a hillier ride will always be harder than a flat ride.

By dividing the ascent by the distance, you get a basic output of understanding roughly how hard the miles were in terms of ascent.  I've put six rides in above that I've actually done to show you what I mean.  The ride with Wiggo, being a lot harder in terms of ascent per mile (101.3) than the 100 mile sportive that I did which returned (22.2).  The daddy is still the Fred Whitton for me with a whopping score of 113.7 - brutal.  

What this allows you to do is come home and understand that if your average speed is not what you want it to be, then look to the profile of your ride as a mitigating factor.  Try it yourself and see if it works for you.  

Does anyone use anything similar or invented an alternative way to measure their ride data?  Drop me a comment and let me know.


  1. Yes Phil, I wrote about it over a year ago :-)

  2. Thanks Ade!

    I've just had a read, glad I'm on track with the logic.

    Some awesome rides you've done there!


  3. You might find my latest blog post of interest as it relates to this:

  4. I'd appreciate your thoughts on taking this further for other rides. I often ride off road, and find that the same amount of ascent on a rough trail is much harder than the equivalent climb on the tarmac. I've also ridden a fat bike on sand, with no ascent and after 6 hours it almost killed me even though total ascent was close to zero :)
    What do you think about incorporating average heart rate or calories per hour into the equation?