I Now Pronounce You Strava And…


The reasons why we’re addicted to a bunch of numbers.

Graduation. Your wedding night. The birth of your first child. Checking Strava.

All of these are significant events in your life that carry deep emotional attachment. If you’ve never been able to experience any of these important occurrences, there’s always arranged marriages.

Strava has quickly become an obsession that the cycling community cannot live without. Most of my friends are on it and I reevaluate my friendships with those that are not.

I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and maybe others I’ve forgotten my password to, but Strava is the one “social” media that matters to me. While technically it is a tracking tool, its soul is built around the people who use it.

Joining Strava is addicting, so beware. There are universal truths that all users share whether we admit it or not:

We look at other’s rides more than our own

We are not on Strava by accident. Everyone is competitive at some level. If you’ve taken the time to sign up and upload your data, then you’re here for a bigger reason.

What makes Strava fascinating is there is so much information available. You can compare mileage, times and elevation. Judge your climbing ability against a variety of different segments. Examine the routes people take to familiarize yourself with new place. You can even divide information between age groups, clubs and….aaahh!!!! I can keep going!

I want to be a better rider. Who doesn’t? Having all this data on your hands makes Strava one of the greatest motivational tools ever. If I’ve gone on a big ride, gotten dropped by the group, but still see a PR somewhere on my results, at least I like I’ve accomplished something. And if I happened to be faster than all my friends on that one segment, all the better!

You enter a marriage with the people who follow you

Because your rides are open to those you’re connected with, you also face the wrath of your Strava husbands. How many times after you’ve posted a ride have you gotten a text saying, “Dude! Why didn’t you let me join! Dude!(I live in California)” Next thing you know, you feel trapped like James Caan in Misery!

You meet a number of great people cycling, but beware. They enjoy riding just as much as you. No one wants to be left out of an epic ride and the price is a whiny earful if you don’t handle it elegantly.

Riders become leaderboard celebrities

Finding Strava luminaries is not a conscious choice. Since many of our rides are within close distance of our living quarters, you start to see the same names pop up at the top of leaderboards. They may just be fast or are KOM hunters. And they never seem to go by their real names!

You talk about these people with your friends. Nobody knows anything about them. You share tall tales. You want to hunt them down, but actually you are the hunted. M. Night Shyamalan will make a movie about this at some point.

Strava tells us a lot, but we always want more

Even with all of that Strava provides us, there always seems to be something we’re obviously missing. It may be something very miniscule, but everyone nods in agreement when these points are brought up(I apologize for what’s ahead if you’ve never used Strava, but all users will understand).

For example, I’d like to use the explore tool to find segments by length. I want to be able to send a private message so I don’t have to make my information public. Rides going 30mph up a Category 3 climb should be automatically flagged! I would like the home addresses to the people going after my KOM’s!

Allow people to mark points on maps that are dangerous(instead of tagging a whole segment as hazardous). Someone should explain why Kudos is important. There should be a way to send a meet up for rides to the general public. And I would like the home addresses to the people going after my KOM’s again!

Myspace is to Facebook, as Strava is to…

Strava has a firm grasp of cyclists’ attention, but things change fast in the world today. I started using Garmin Connect because I had a Garmin. Made sense until I realized no one I knew was on it.

It was easy to get attached to Strava because the interphase and access to data is presented in such a clear manner, but who’s to say it’s the be all, end all? Even Facebook reformats occasionally to make sure it’s relevant. Now I’m using my phone to upload my data more than my Garmin, so switching to something new could be as simple as downloading an app!

Before you know it, Strava could go the way of eToys, Friendster and WebVan and the Gran Fondo Jerseys people earn may turn into running jokes. Cyclists love innovation and any improvement would be easily embraced. So please, give me those addresses!

Zachary Races/Commutes/Crashes bicycles on a daily basis. He also writes for the Los Angeles blog anotherperfectday.net and can be followed on Twitter @AcrossLA.