October 28th, 2019 by Taylor Huseman

Whether you’re new to cycling, or you have been cycling for decades, chances are you have heard of Strava. So what’s all the fuss about? Strava is one of the most popular and comprehensive options for runners and cyclists that uses satellite navigation to track an athlete’s activity. Also known as a social network for runners and cyclists, it is a great way to stay accountable, track your improvement, and get connected with the athletic community for group runs and rides.

Like with anything new, getting started can be intimidating. Within the app, there are many features that the user can take full advantage of to improve their cycling and running performance. Still not sold you should get it? Keep reading.  

Why you need Strava:

All Your Friends Have It  – Ever heard of FOMO? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. While we don’t agree that peer pressure is the BEST reason to use Strava, the chances are, most of your friends are using it. No one likes the thought of being left out. One fun feature is that you can keep tabs on your friends (and perhaps even your competition) on a daily or weekly basis to see where you stack up. Don’t worry, there is an age-based category you can check too. It’s the perfect mix of motivation with a little humbling action mixed in.

Free To Use – Sure, there is a Premium version you can upgrade to, but the bare bones are the same, and the free version includes plenty of great features that are enough for a lot of cycling.  What do you have to lose?

Community Involvement – Cycling brings about many amazing things to the lives of its riders, but one of the most impactful is the community that it can create. With a cycling community, you get the option to become a better cyclist by learning from others who push you harder than you might normally go on your own, and by holding you accountable. Within the app, you can create private groups for just you and your crew where you can post rides, meeting areas, and even comment and give “kudos” (more on that later). Even if you’re not riding together, you can still stay connected by giving encouragement and praise. 

Data –  A word thrown around like hot dogs at a baseball game. There’s a lot of it out there, and most riders are overwhelmed by the sheer thought of applying more numbers to their cycling than mph, avg speed, and distance. Using this data, however, Strava can track your progress over time through a variety of features. You can see your mileage on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. You can see check your HR and power numbers at certain times of the year. You can see and relate to rides that you         thought were “hard” vs those you thought were “easy”. With this, you can see if you’re making progress throughout the year, or simply staying the same. 

Goals and Challenges – Within the app, the rider has the ability to “join” a challenge. For example, at the start of each month, you might get an alert titled “Ride a Fondo in   October”. If you choose to make that a goal and join the challenge, when you ride a Fondo in October (mind you, this can be any ride of 62 miles) you will earn yourself a nice little badge to add to your digital trophy case. You can also see all those who have completed the challenge as well.  Starting to sound fun right?

Speaking Strava:

Segment – The most popular feature within the app is chasing after “Segments”.  Users can create segments (only once they have physically ridden them themselves) and others can then “race” for the best time on that particular segment. Any rider who has ridden that segment while recording with Strava will post a time to the leaderboard. Climbing segments are the most fun, and depending on where you live, you may have some rather challenging hills to attack!

KOM / QOM – Remember the game you played when you were a kid called “King of the Mountain”?  Welcome to the adult version. KOM and QOM stand for King of the Mountain and Queen of the Mountain, and are award to those with the fastest time on a particular segment. Remember, segments don’t always have to be climbs.  That can be long, flat sections, short sprints, or even entire race courses. The rider with the fastest recorded time will remain the KOM of QOM until they are dethroned. Let us warn you though, getting a notification saying “You have been dethroned” has been known to cause serious cases of increased motivation, drive, and performance. Just remember to always ride safe and smart. If the segment is forcing you to blow stop signs or stop lights, it’s not worth risking serious injury. 

Achievements – We all love achievements right? These are presented in the form of digital trophies, medals, or KOM/QOMs.  Once you have completed and uploaded your ride to Strava, it will automatically begin comparing your ride to other users who have ridden the same segments. Trophies are award for those in the top 10 on a segment, and the medals are for your personal times. For example, lets say you ride up MegaHill Segment yesterday and it was your first time.  Then you road up it again 3 days later, and posted a faster time.  You would get a PR (personal record), and your previous time would now be your second best.  A silver medal. 

Leaderboard – The leaderboard has two functions. One is in reference to a particular segment, and the other is in reference to a private group. If you are in a group, there is a weekly leaderboard you can strive to be on each week. Perhaps it is based on miles, and your goal may be to break the top 5 that week! Good work! The leaderboard for a segment is simply the top 10 fastest times on that given segment. Also known as the segment leaderboard. 

Where do you start?

Ride your bike – The easiest way to start is simply get on your bike and ride. Let Strava do the rest. Because it operates in the background, you as a user are left with nothing to do but hit start, ride, and end. Once that’s done, the fun begins.

Explore new territory – Once you get connected within the cycling community, chances are your new friends will be able to recommend new routes and roads to take.  Take them up on those and test them out.  Sometimes, there’s nothing better than getting lost on a ride, and having Strava to prove it!

Privacy is important – Remember that privacy is important. If you’re uploading your routes online, you might want to adjust your settings so that other users who view that ride can’t see the exact start and stop location of your ride. If you don’t do this, this could open up a slew of problems, especially if you leave your house at roughly the same times. It can potentially make you a victim to bike theft as well. Within your strata privacy settings, you can create a 1 mile (or any other distance) radius privacy zone around your home so users can’t see where you live.  We HIGHLY recommend this. 

Log – The great thing about Strava is that it is an automatic digital log.  You no longer need to write down how many miles you road today, or if you forgot to write down last Monday’s ride.  Strava keeps a live update rolling for you so you don’t have to.  Now you can see just how any miles your putting in and have the correct answer when the next person asks you, “So how many miles day you ride a week?” 

Oh and one last thing that might convince you to start using this great app: If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

Ride Safe.

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