Is Strava just for big fat show offs?


19 April 2013

Strava is a tracking system for cyclists and runners. It allows you to compare your times with other people’s times on a leader board. I know my place in the Strava world - mid table. I don’t like being last on the leaderboards and I’ve no chance of being first, so mid table is where I belong. If I get into a top ten I’m pretty chuffed with myself, but since no one else really gives a monkey’s there no point in being too chuffed.
‘Darling, I’m fifth on the Church Road Gut Buster.’

‘Really dear, who give a monkey’s’

See what I mean.

But is it just for big fat show offs? The answer is, yes, sort of. If you’re a Sunday afternoon cyclist who likes to pootle around when it’s not too windy, then Strava is not for you. There are other less public ways of logging your miles and feeling good about yourself. Coming last on a leader board isn’t an inspirational thing, believe me a know.

If you’re amazing and you can humiliate all your friends on any climb, then sign up immediately. How satisfying to be KOM on all the climbs around your house, even better, ride to your friends’ houses and do it there as well. Strava was made for you, you big show off.
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And then there’s people like me, not fast enough to be a show off (unfortunately) but still wanting to improve. When I first signed up for Strava I did go a little bit bonkers and tried to get the best times I could on all the climbs within a twenty miles radius of my house. If you’re 59 out of 60 riders and one of them’s your Gran, there’s room for improvement. Now, about nine months after I’ve signed up I’m a lot more relaxed about it. I’ve settled into my mid-table positions so there is less urgency. Every now and again I pick a segment and try and beat my old time, if I do I’m happy, if not I weep for a while.

Strava is like having your own coach, because if you want to improve, data is important. On some rides I’ve thought to myself, wow, have I been taking EPO? only to find that I did the ride 10 minutes faster six weeks ago. You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie when you download the data.

So is Strava just for show offs? Well, there’s a few show offs on the hills where I live, clogging up the top spots of the leader boards, so yes it is. I wish I was one of them.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

Photo by: John Spooner

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