Cycle: Strava Keeps Track of Your Stats, But is It Ruining the Joy of a Good Ride?

Categories: Bicycle Culture

If you go on a ride but don't have some record of it, did it actually happen?

Ever since cycling computers started to be able to download ride files so that cyclists could evaluate and archive their efforts, the desire to show friends and teammates how fast, long and hard they rode grew exponentially. Computers and components including Garmin, CycleOps, SRM, and SRAM are recording everything from where you ride to how much physical power you generate.

It was just a matter of time before an app would come along to help track all this information wrapped in a slick social interface. Enter Strava, a cyclist's solution to logging rides for the world to see. The site/app even features bragging rights, showing who is the fastest at any given section. Many cyclists use the feature, but there are those who say that it's also ruining the joy of a ride.

Strava, the Swedish word for "to strive," was created by Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey in San Francisco out of the spirit of creating a team-like environment for athletes who trained alone. According to its website, "Strava makes fitness a social experience, providing motivation and camaraderie even if you're exercising alone."

Through a web interface, and later using smart phone technology, athletes could compare efforts. They have termed their creation "social fitness."

"Strava is a very interesting tool for cyclists," said Palmer Martines, owner of PHX Bike in downtown Phoenix, and a Strava user. "It's a good way for me to review my rides and see how I'm getting stronger while comparing to those I ride with and want to compare myself to."

For the record, we here at the Cycle Cycling Team (of one) are also users of Strava. And so are several endorsed pro athletes who regularly post files to Strava for everyday Joes to compare themselves against. Strava, currently a private company, does not share how many users it has but industry estimates put that number near 1 million.

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btw, who the fuck is "blair5?" did i request to be anonymous? was I even offered the choice? thanks for blindfolding me. christ.


i don't know about "ruins", but the aspect of trying to gain position or even improve on segments gets old pretty fast once you realize it has a lot more to do with wind speed and direction than to your own effort. Get one good gale blowing, and anyone lucky or smart enough to hit the segment it's favoring gets to look like a champion.  But hey, that's bike riding.

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