5 Things About Strava

Words Morgan Taylor
Date Jun 24, 2013

The polka dot jersey has taken over the trails. Crazed yahoos are chasing a mythical creature all over the mountain. Riders and hikers alike have their panties in a bunch over the King of the Mountain.

strava-nimby-3

Strava is all about drawing lines on maps.

When I began training at Marx Conditioning earlier this year, Monika suggested I start tracking my rides using a GPS unit. Traditional cycling computers don’t get along well with mountain bikes, and a GPS unit can be a lot more powerful in addition to being transferable between bikes without worrying about wheel size and so on. You can use your phone to do this, but you pay for data and battery life suffers.

I ended up with a Garmin 500 that a friend had retired due to a broken screen. Excellent. For training or racing purposes, the ability to pair with a heart rate monitor has proven useful for me, but the majority of the time I’m most interested in seeing the data behind my ride. Distance, elevation, hours logged – and thanks to Strava, KOMs.

I started using Strava as a way to log my rides and report back to my trainer, but just like any software or social media network, I had to use it and understand it to get the most out of it. Strava can be a great way to track your progress on regular laps, or to set achievable goals without having to actually race. At the same time, it can be deceiving, and a problem for other trail users in a number of ways…

strava-nimby-2

The good stuff. Elevation, distance, time, heart rate…

1. Your KOM is Celestially Aided

A good time on Strava is a combination of two things: a good run and a good drift. The wildcard known as GPS drift can throw a wrench in the gears – especially on short segments. GPS is more accurate the slower you’re going, so if the beginning and end of a segment are on high speed sections, drift will have a greater impact. Inevitably, the KOM for some segments ends up being unattainably fast, and usually is achieved by your grandmother.

2. You are NOT PRO if You Ride Like a Dick

Everyone’s seen it. The guy who’s trying to smash out a fast lap on a busy two-way intermediate mixed-use trail at noon on Saturday. Here’s a tip. Don’t do Strava runs on weekends. Nobody cares if you are having the run of a lifetime – especially my grandmother. Climbers get right of way and so do hikers. Pros don’t ride like dicks, and neither should you.

camber-nimby

The last time I saw Mt. Currie before climbing into the Nimby Fifty pain cave…

3. Missing Segments are Part of the Game

Have you ever gone home to find your guaranteed top time on your favourite trail didn’t even show up once you uploaded your track? Good. So has everyone else. Sometimes that favourable GPS drift goes a bit too far, and your winning run turns into nothing, nothing at all. (You can actually report missing segments to the Strava help desk, but they can’t always match them up.)

4. Riding Off the Map

If you ride off the map, it’s a best practice to make that ride private – and fer chrissakes don’t make a segment on an illegal trail! What the fuck are you thinking?! There are documented cases of Strava segments on unsanctioned trails resulting in those trails being decommissioned by land managers. If a trail is in the “show, don’t tell” category, it doesn’t go on the internet. Come on now.

5. I’m Faster Than You

Me, or someone else, who’s not using Strava or is making all their rides private. They’re just out there watching your times and not telling the world about it.

denver-strava

My dog is faster than you…


Do any of Morgan’s points resound with you? Would you add anything to the list?

Comments

wydopen
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wydopen  - Jan. 7, 2014, 8:21 a.m.

I use Strava on all my rides..I love to be able to see my elevation and distance as well as try to beat my times..I get enjoyment from riding a section as fast as I can and I do it with or without Strava..Now I can have some friendly rivalry with my buddies and other riders in my area not to mention see how you stack up against the pros that use it too..

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Dokk
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Dokk  - June 27, 2013, 9:17 a.m.

Good discussion. I use Strava to track my km's and elevation for the year. I do find it cool to see if i'm at least in the ball park with some of the other riders in our area. What I find funny is the guy you see on the trail that would normally stop and chat but blasts by you cause he is on a Strava run.

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MoonDogg
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MoonDogg  - June 25, 2013, 10:06 p.m.

I find the biggest benefit of Strava is that it motivates me to beat myself. I really like to have faster times than my friends. And I like competing virtually with local pros that I would most likely never actually ride with. But what I like most is beating my own previous best times, and seeing in black and white that my skills and fitness are improving. That keeps me motivated.

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TeCeBe
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TBurton  - June 26, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

I would hazard a guess that 99% of Strava users use it just as you describe. It is exactly what I like it for. It also makes ride tracking super easy with direct uploads from the phone and there is the bonus of seeing how I stack up against some of the faster riders in town.

The Strava debate is just another example of the online mountain bike community taking itself to seriously.

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Brother-Lu
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Brother Lu  - June 25, 2013, 6:13 p.m.

Nice to finally see some comments on a home page story. I do not care for strava.

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Tonestar
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Tonestar  - June 25, 2013, 5:44 p.m.

Wow, some people are getting awfully worked up about this. I think Morgan was just trying to take the piss out of some friends and maybe even himself a little.

I thought the list was pretty funny, you just need to look at it again to see it was a little tongue in cheek.

Lighten up and enjoy people, the riding is good.

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Mordax
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Red Bully  - June 25, 2013, 4:47 p.m.

I've only used it for a handful of mtb rides, but I enjoy it for commuting, mostly for the personal record keeping purposes (total miles/climb/etc). The segments bit is kinda fun. Adds a bit of motivation to mash it across the viaduct every morning.

As was mentioned early on in this thread, I don't think you can blame assholes being assholes on Strava.

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jpi
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jpi  - June 25, 2013, 3:48 p.m.

What's a Strava? Is it like Everytrail? Some kind of mobile app? Is so, is it available on all platforms?

Got a link for more information?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - June 25, 2013, 8:03 p.m.

I thought for sure it was linked but Morgan clearly forgot. Here you go, jpi:

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Tmack
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Tmack  - June 25, 2013, 1:55 p.m.

Strava is not at all accurate anyway. I've blasted lots of runs and my times were slower than the slowest guy in the group. It always works perfect when I get KOM though, there's no debate lol.

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pedalhound
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pedalhound  - June 25, 2013, 12:31 p.m.

I love strava, I love tracking my rides and keeping track of my times to see if I am progressing or not.

I too have noticed that there seems to be a ton of trail dumbing down and braiding lately, I can see people trying to get KOM's or PB's as a big part of that, but I don't think it's the only reason. People ride trails over their skill and decide to suite the trail more to their level and then there are the people who watch the "shreddits" online and try to emulate the speed and end up cutting corners and riding off trail…just not cool.

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PUNKY
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PUNKY  - June 25, 2013, 11:44 a.m.

I started GPSing my rides a few years ago when I started actually pedalling. I wanted to track the distance I was pedalling, rather than speed or time so I used every trail. Luckily, I get plenty of midweek midday riding time

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FlipFantasia
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Todd Hellinga  - June 25, 2013, 11:20 a.m.

Can we just drop the whole strava discussion already? yes there are some assholes out there that use it, but the vast majority of people who use it to track their rides are not dicks, do not ride like goons because of it, and really don't care that much about their 'rankings'. People need to stop trying to paint everyone who uses it as a trail destroying out of control liability.

you can also start blaming downhill bikes, 29'ers and singlerings (tongue in cheek)….here in nelson the trail braiders aren't strava'ites, they're people too lazy to pedal out of the grade reversals and rolling switchbacks and straight line through the corners instead. Jerk riding is jerk riding, start calling out the jerks to their faces when you see it instead of trying to pin blame on some faceless software.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 25, 2013, 12:39 p.m.

i agree with you to a point flip: it's not strava per se that's too blame. but the proliferation of this type of software, and people increasingly interacting and "living" online, has started to blur the lines between real world etiquette and common sense and the anonymity and instant gratification of the internet.

if you are racing your buddies in real life, to paraphrase rasheed wallace, "trail don't lie": the fastest rider will be the first to the bottom; likely the first to drop in, too.

on the internet, there's a lot more leeway to cheat and dissemble and craft your online self and accomplishments. the more it becomes a part of people's lives, the more i think general behaviour will skew towards, as morgan puts it, "being a dick." strava's not the problem, but it's part of the problem

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Henry-Chinaski
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Henry Chinaski  - June 25, 2013, 2:09 p.m.

Rasheed Wallace don’t like to be paraphrased;-)

I don’t find Strava to be all that anonymous. I think most people that are chasing KOMs want to be recognized for their accomplishments. See the top 10 of any of your favorite trails, road segments, or runs. Software doesn’t skew behaviour towards being a dick; it allows people to embrace their inner dick. One consequence of more bikes is more dicks.

Are people that are purchasing new top of the line carbon bikes with optimized suspension doing so out of a desire to be less speedy? These bikes are being sold as shred machines. Even the good boutique brands have marketing/promotional videos that are over the top with thrashing the shit out of trails. This is the culture that’s being created.

IMO, it’s far better to embrace and participate in “communities” like Strava than to ignore and leave for the trail braiders of the world. Some users may not want to boast, but at the least, the following sounds like the author enjoys/uses the software…

Me, or someone else, who’s not using Strava or is making all their rides private. They’re just out there watching your times

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - June 25, 2013, 8:01 p.m.

No we definitely can't drop it, Todd! Getting the discussion going is exactly what Morgan was after. I think most people agree with your points (I do) but Strava is a polarizing tool, and it is providing a lens through which some of these sub-discussions are being framed. Had Morgan written an article titled "5 things about dick riders" I don't think there would have been such a big response, and we like it when you guys respond. In fact if you don't respond to this #imagonnainsultyousucka

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FlipFantasia
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Todd Hellinga  - June 25, 2013, 10:08 p.m.

yeah I know it's a comment generator, but it's the same old same old that's been discussed to death. The people whom are assheads a) aren't reading this b) don't care even if they are c) all of the above. You have the people who accuse all strava users of a) wrecking trails, b) not enjoying riding for riding, c) all of the above….and those who do use it that a) use it for ride tracking b) a bit of friendly, conditions appropriate, competition knowing that it's inaccurate c) all of the above….have I missed anything?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - June 25, 2013, 10:39 a.m.

I 'get' Strava when I channel my closeted former road rider self. XC racers would be the same - or runners. If your sport consists primarily of propelling yourself somewhere, it's human nature to start wanting to go faster, further, etc…and like everything else, some people take it too far. But if you think it's a completely foreign concept to you, let's remember that innovations such as lighter wheels and better suspension systems cater to the same mindset. Faster, further, or for more fun; whatever motivates you, you do what you can to enhance the experience.

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xy9ine
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Perry Schebel  - June 25, 2013, 10:21 a.m.

cam - never really thought about it previously, but yes, i have been noticing more evidence of the non-intuitive fast lines being worn in on several trails. not sure if it's indicative of kom strafing runs, or the general 'enduro' race mode mindset (nttawwt), but curious, nonetheless.

that said, i really don't get the appeal of strava.

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craigh
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CraigH  - June 25, 2013, 10:16 a.m.

Even though it is obvious Morgan wrote this (Hi Denver!), how come he didn't put his name down as author?

Not a Strave user here although I do use a GPS for all my rides 'Out There' but that is for Track and Waypoint purposes, not speed.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - June 25, 2013, 7:58 p.m.

Cam and I posted it and neither of us filled in the 'author' field. I have updated it. Whether it was to let him endure the shit storm or to give him credit, I'll let all of you decide.

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clarklewis
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clarklewis  - June 25, 2013, 8:33 a.m.

6. no one cares.
pretty funny morgan.
strava is silly, every ride is a (very poorly timed) race for some people now.

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Paul-Snyder
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Paul Snyder  - June 25, 2013, 8:01 a.m.

So it's like people are competing with times…only on line? What is KOM?

I might be ignorant, but I like points 2, 4 and 5 anyway.

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mthomaslee
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Matt Lee  - June 25, 2013, 8:54 a.m.

Think back to arcade machines, and the list of top scores that you'd see at the end of the game. Same sort of idea, only replace the arcade machine with trails, a GPS device, and a website. KOM is the person at the top of the proverbial list as it were.

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Paul-Snyder
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Paul Snyder  - June 25, 2013, 8:58 a.m.

Okay, it's the high score for riding that everyone's trying to beat. Got it. But don't get it (as in I don't see the point.)

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Oldfart
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Oldfart  - June 25, 2013, 6:42 a.m.

Geez it's way more fun to ride with other folks and race them in person. Then trash each other for crashes and dabs at a pub after. Seems to me starve is a bit anti social like all this text messaging rather than just going over to friends house. But I'm old, what do I know.

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Tuskaloosa
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Tuskaloosa  - June 25, 2013, 12:58 a.m.

I'm not a Strava user, not into I'm faster than you kind of thing just like to ride and have fun. However, here in the UK it has been found bike thieves have been using Strava to their benefit with users who start their track from home.

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cam
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cam  - June 24, 2013, 10:27 p.m.

I know not all Strava users have anti social tendencies but I can add one to that list.

6. You Aren't KOM if you cut your own trail

Have you noticed all those new lines you've seen popping up lately on your local trails, switchbacks cut and chicanes straight lined? Blame a big chunk of those on Strava.

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FlipFantasia
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Todd Hellinga  - June 25, 2013, 8:41 a.m.

it's not strava that causes trail braiding, it's selfish asshole riding, and it was a problem before strava.

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Henry-Chinaski
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Henry Chinaski  - June 25, 2013, 9:35 a.m.

Fully agree! Selfish riders have been around since the beginning. How much braiding have you seen watching headcam footage? Strava is just another tool that supports the culture of shredding the fuck out of a trail, except now you don't have to be with buds to pound your chest.

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shirk
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shirk  - June 25, 2013, 10:13 a.m.

I agree with Flip, jerks are jerks, you can't blame it all on Strava.

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