Stand up for Strava

Where the wild things are
Where the wild things are

I thought it was time someone made a stand for Strava. We see increasing amounts of bad press about speeding cyclists in public places or even the daft need for speed cameras on bike trails. And a blame of sorts is often landed on Strava.

I wont and can’t deny that Strava doesn’t allow and promote competition with its Cups and KOM Crowns; but surely these cyclists are competitive by nature and some how they would find a way of racing no matter what? Strava allows them to seek out other riders times and segments – yes. But if those segments are on shared paths and parks surely Strava is helping by highlighting where the problems are and who the riders are that cause the probelm?

Its an easy target, as are cyclists in general when it comes to public spaces – we should just ride sensibly or away from these locations and the problem wouldn’t exist.  Talk of banning or closing down the app is ridiculous in my opinion, the authorities should work with Strava to target the offending cyclists.

There are some negative sides to Strava, or the way it is used but the benefits of the app and the usefulness is far greater.

The Strava Effect

This article on SingleTracks covers it quite well. Strava has taken the soul out of cycling in some ways and it bugs me to see a bunch of cyclists at the end of a ride all checking their phones for their “results”. How many new PBs, any KOMs etc?

There is nothing wrong with this per se, but when it becomes the focus of conversation after a ride it really bugs me.  “I’ve hit my climbing challenge this month” “How many miles you done now?” “I beat you up that climb by 4 seconds”…  Yawn!

How about we talk about how great it was to be out together? How about we we talk about the stunning views from the top of the mountain? How about we talk about how technical that climb was and laugh at how someone fell in a puddle? How about we talk about when are we doing this gain? How about we talk?

Its not quite as bad as all that but it does annoy me.

And please don’t get me started on the constant shares on Facebook! Why?

ooh Well done mate you road your bike today.

Strava and Me

Since signing up to Strava I have become a little addicted to it myself, but I rarely talk about it or my achievements (or lack of). This doesn’t mean I’m not competitive and don’t strive to become quicker its just means that Strava is a personal thing for me.

I don’t really mind if you are quicker, though I am interested in how you manage to go so much quicker than I do.

“sometimes it is nice to smell the flowers, doesn’t mean you can’t measure how far you went to do it” – Nik

I rarely sign up to challenges either – If I do its to motivate myself as Strava gives a handy prompt to let you know how you are doing on a distance or climbing challenge. Not to compare my progress with others – it helps me keep track of my exercise, my progress on regular routes and gives me a gentle reminder to get out more.

Check out Mr Morzine’s thoughts on the same subject.

I am also a map fan so love looking at where I’ve been and where I could have been. Strava highlights segments and I have used the segment explorer on many occasions to plan routes – this ride was created using the Segment Explorer. Not so I can smash someones time, but so I can see what that little orange wiggly line is like in the middle of those woods!

You can use strava for this too
Smelling the flowers

Benefits of Strava

When I see others have been out and I haven’t it prompts me to ride. I check Strava to see where a few of my more adventurous biking friends have been to see if they have found some new trails. Now I want to go out and I know where to go!

Recording routes and trails is vital when exploring especially if you are far from home or want to easily explain the location to a friend – “Have a look on my Strava.” is a pretty common element of many a mountain bike conversation.

As mentioned above its also helpful for exploring new routes using the Segment Explorer…

Basically you get out of something whatever you put in – the same goes for Strava.  A number of people I know have given up on Strava as it was ruling their rides, I wonder why they let this happen and why fun biking and Strava can’t coexist for them and for the media as whole?

Oh well, I guess that’s their problem.

#StandUpForStrava

Lets Break It Down

10km run
10km run profile

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will have noticed I went for a run yesterday. Exciting I know!  Well I have been trying again to help my bike fitness by adding some other exercise to my routine.  Running is an easy one to fit in to short spaces of time and if I get fit enough, I am sure I will find some pleasure in trail running at some point.

Anyway, just for fun here’s a breakdown of each kilometer and my final analysis: Continue reading “Lets Break It Down”

If its not on Strava…

Genesis CDF Cyclocross Bike
Did this ride really happen?

…did the ride really happen?

I realised this last week that I am a Strava Addict. Yes I admit it.

I didn’t really doubt it and let me get this straight, its not that I am addicted t o chasing down other peoples times and climbs. I am much more realistic than that. I ride for pleasure and fun, and ONLY OCCASIONALLY do I feel the need to try and beat someones time.

Last week my Garmin bike GPS failed to connect to my computer meaning that I lost a ride to the oblivion of the internal memory.  Now let me explain, this was only a small pedal out at lunch time not even 10 miles, but I enjoyed it and I rode down a section of hill on my cyclocross bike that I normally do on my MTB. I was desperate to see how the times compared as I felt like I was moving! This was the first reason I was disappointed, secondly I wanted to show that the CX bike doesn’t stop me riding off road and doesn’t make me a roadie.

IMG_6017
Its not a road ride

Thirdly, I do like to keep an eye on my exercise and while I know full well I went out and I took a photo (above) to commemorate the occasion, my Strava account doesn’t know!  I can’t add manual entries – everyone knows they don’t count!

After much searching on the internet (Googling as we have become accustomed to calling it) I found that i was not alone in my pain. While this doesn’t appear to be a known fault as such, its seems to just happen to these devices to some people. It could be a mechanical issue with the USB port – I don’t know.

What next, a new one? Certainly buying gadgets is great, but the Garmin actually works otherwise.  I know I can use a card reader and take the activities off the device microSD card. Excellent! Problem solved. I can ride again.

So two days later I rode and rode and rode (and took more photos) and got up to a fantastic high speed on a little road descent. Can’t wait to see how I compare with others and my previous times!

ARGH!  I didn’t have the device set up to record to the microSD card! Another ride lost to oblivion – that actually didn’t happen and the only record is another photo.

I have now fixed the issue and rides will be recorded to the microSD card from now onwards. And I have saved myself buying a new Garmin!

More new bike bits it is then…

The Story So Far

How much do we have to walk each day?
How much do we have to walk each day?

On the 1st of July I decided I would get out everyday on my bike for the whole month.

Here’s the post – https://timfromwales.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/10k-a-day-for-july/

I was not going to try and replicate the Tour de France or do anything ridiculous – I just followed suit on the 10000 steps a day challenge and do 10000m (or 10k) everyday also.

Why? Well I am working from home mostly so I don’t walk to the car, walk around the office, go out at lunch time etc and basically I can take the day as it comes. I ride my mountain bike twice a week, and tend to walk a reasonable amount. But could I walk and bike those distances everyday when I didn’t have to leave the house other than a couple of dog walks?

The have been a few close calls so far – A busy day (sitting at my desk) here and there meant I had to make the extra effort with Brodie (the dog) and last night it was 8.30pm and I really wanted to sit down but I made myself get out on the bike and it was totally worth it.

So, 6 days in and I have been doing well here are the first 6 days of July:

  1. Bike 11.6km, 11,841 steps
  2. Bike 34.8km, 11,961 steps
  3. Bike 13km, 15,321 steps
  4. Bike 12.5km, 14,162 steps
  5. Bike 16.1km,  10,691 steps
  6. Bike 11.7km,  12,345 steps

That’s an on target, 100km by bike and 76,321 steps (or approximately 70km on foot also).

I know there will be those that commute further each day and ride much more each week – this is a personal thing and not me stating this is anything special. I want to see if there is an improvement on my fitness or sleep or health in anyway for me.

How do I feel?  I think I need to start to stretch my legs a little, even the 45-60 mins a day has an impact and I noticed last night my legs felt heavy and lacking a little bit of energy – could be diet related?

25 days to go including a very difficult day tomorrow where I am spending most of the day in the car – I need a plan!

Making the most of it

Icknield Way Trail
Icknield Way Trail

A week away from home working and staying on the Cambridgeshire-Essex border didn’t look like it was going to provide many mountain biking opportunities of an evening. Looking at the map around Saffron Walden there also appeared to be very little in the way of bridleways or trails. But I was not going to be deterred so I took my hard tail with the intention of doing some exploring.

The Slade - Saffron Walden
The Slade – Saffron Walden

Heading into Saffron Walden from my accommodation in Littlebury looked like it was going to be a simple road ride, but my trusty Garmin Edge helped me spot a little byway that proved to be a lot of fun. As I neared Saffron Walden (after only a mile or so) I found a dried up river bed (The Salde I think) that I followed right through the town – it was a bit of fun and had a few drops and hops to keep me on my toes.

Audley End Estate and Gardens
Audley End Estate and Gardens

The local landmark is the Audley End estate – it looks very nice but was of course closed to cyclists. My little explore was only around 14km but was certainly worth the time.

Large Snail at Coploe Hill Pit
Large Snail at Coploe Hill Pit

The following evening I pedaled up and over the M11 motorway, hoping to explore a wood I had spotted on the map.  It was very clearly marked as private so i decided against it and instead tried to follow something that was called the Icknield Way Trail.  As with may trails and bridleways at this time of the year they look very tempting a map but turn into a nettlefest when you actually find them.  I think I was stung more in about 100m of trail then I have ever been before and it took my poor legs a good 2 days to stop tingling.

The Icknield Way Trail looks actually very interesting and it goes from somewhere in Bedfordshire and all the way towards Thetford Forest. The 170 mile route looks very interesting but if the short section I rode is anything to go by, cover your legs!

The highlight of this little ride was certainly the snails at Coploe Hill Pit. It looked like a great spot for a ride (a disused chalk pit), but it was overrun with huge snails and a ride through would have certainly resulted in a few getting crunched so I headed back into the wind and a tiny bit of rain.

Food!
Italian Burger at the Queends Head Inn, Littlebury

I final explore on Wednesday evening was much more successful. I had found a walking route on the internet called Beechy Ride – sounded ideal – so decided to head south of Saffron Walden for an explore.  What I found was some fantastic singletrack and bridleway routes. Some 20km later I was back at the pub tucking into an enormous burger and a few pints of Stowford Press.

The route can be seen below on my Strava pages along with a couple of photos on Instagram.

https://www.strava.com/activities/318325289

Yesterday I visited Hadleigh Park – the site of the 2012 Olympics MTB route – but that’s worth a post of its own I think.