In the not to distant past a new phenomenon arrived on the Internet cycling scene. Strava is it’s name. A clever website to log your rides or runs using your GPS or GPS enabled smart phone. Once uploaded you can build a picture of your training habits and if so wish pay a premium to get more in depth analysis of your performance including a Suffer Score. The clever bits are not the above. This has been done by Training Peaks and Garmin Connect The clever bits are the segments.
Strava allows you to create segments which are sections of rides you have completed, that can subsequently be used to measure your performance and the performance of other “athletes” in the form of a league table. Being in the top 10 times across a particular segment earns you a little gold cup avatar next to your name when your friend view your activities. A first place on a segment will earn you the e-bragging right of a virtual KOM (King of the Mountain) or QOM if you happen to be a girl!
Strava is a social network, you can follow people you know (or don’t but fancy stalking) and this combined with the segments you develop a sense of competition and this in my experience influences the way you ride. Conversations turn to upcoming Strava segments during rides. Some of your riding buddies leap of the front of the group to enter a segment with speed to earn their post ride glow. Another tactic is to back off the person in front as you enter a section only to catch them at a good moment to ensure they have the faster segment time at the end. Naturally there are also instances where people are writing speed cheques that there ability can not cash on downhill segments (Not clever kids!)
This change in dynamics maybe be good or bad for the group of buddies you ride with. I suppose it depends on what type of people you are, but this is only one side of the coin.
The other side is the lone riding, the old fashioned sneaky training rides. The rides against the clock. Strava in this form can provide a virtual training partner. The need to better your time on a climb may motivate you to push that little harder where before you may have been inclined to back off.
This of course is open to abuse in the same way that the tactics above are deployed and this has created a couple of interesting terms.
The first is Strava Hunting. – The act of riding with the soul purpose of taking a KOM/QOM on a particular segment. The second is Stravacide where you bury yourself so hard on a segment that you can barely limp round the rest of the course.
However you react to Strava, one thing is for sure. Strava is a game changer, it affects the way people ride, it exposes sections of riding you may not have known about, and sadly it advertises those secret trails you hoped would remain in the knowledge of your inner circle.
What it does do though is make you ride!
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