This is something new I’ve discovered during 2012, which throws up some really interesting points, the world of online pseudo-real competition on Strava.
Strava.com is a website that allows users with a GPS device, i.e. a Garmin, most high end smartphones, to upload their rides. From this information the website creates rankings based on ‘king of the mountains‘ for various segments of road, which have been created either automatically or by different users. Everybody can then see how fast others are going up these climbs or along segments of road or trail, then set out to beat them.
So Strava creates a level of year-round competition never seen before, it looks like people are constantly posting personal bests, even in freezing conditions. But this is the element I don’t really get, it’s possibly counter productive for those concerned in smashing the ranking times in winter, a new breed of solo winter racer has been created, one who blatantly does not understand or respect the rules of training that have been set in stone for eons, winter is for slow & steady.
Perhaps it the change in the racing seasons as I pointed out in my initial blog, with the rise & rise of cyclo-cross and now winter track racing indoors. But to me, it looks like a load of these ‘kings of the icy mountains’ are slipping into the rankings and aiming for smashing a record, rather than going out for a ride. Does this seem a little disappointing, surely if these individuals are riding with a group they create an anti-social element, racing away on any slope that has a Strava segment, so presumably, they’re on their own.
I’ve also seen some posts relating to Strava times, riders waiting for storms & massive tailwinds to give them a weather advantage, that’s not really playing the game is it, that’s wind doping.
I have to admit, I like Strava, I find it useful as a comparison, whether against yourself from a previous ride (what I find most informative, it can indicate you’re growing form) or against the local superstars, seeing just how far off them you really are. So it’s probably a good indicator of when you’re ready to race. It’s also nice to get a king of the mountains, I think I have one, on an obscure piece of road, not ridden by many, I’ll not tell you where it is, because you’ll just try to beat it. But there lies the problem, I understand Strava, I understand what it is, I understand how little it actually matters in the real world, I understand that my chances of getting a major king of the mountains are incredibly remote, but still I do feel drawn into it as a competition, I’ve just tried to protect my little piece of road, there is definetely something there and I’ll not ridicule anybody who’s taking it seriously, but maybe only if they take it a bit too seriously. Like the one chap who died trying to take a segment, then crashed and his family tried to sue the owners of Strava.
So don’t take Strava too seriously, use it to monitor YOUR progress first, then if you’re within shouting distance of a high ranking, have a go, on a nice warm day. But under no circumstances wait for a dangerous windy day to get your tailwind advantage, or, the worst element of Strava cheating, record it in your car and pretend you rode the segment, it happens!!