Strava: Swedish for ‘Beware the Hole of Obsession You are About to be Sucked Into’

Well, no. According to the article I will link to in a bit, it’s Swedish for ‘Strive’. But you know where this blog post is going at least.

Of course I knew it existed. I have been reading things like ‘check out my Strava data!’ on blogs for a couple of years now. I also have had guided ride clients try and convince me that I was missing out on something obviously fundamental to being a cyclist. But it wasn’t till Karsten visited a couple of weeks ago and actually showed me the wonders I could upload from my phone (I don’t have a Garmin…probably another thing that is only a matter of time): My route laid out on a map, nifty profile, all the data I already get from my Polar, plus – and this was the clincher – ‘segments’.


Segments are user-created bits of road – usually climbs – that, once created, show the Strava world who kicks ass and who doesn’t (the segments are shown in green, like on the profile above). Yes, of course, the top guy/girl is know as KOM (King of the Mountain). imagesThere is a ‘leader board’ of all riders who have ridden any given segment, with a Top Ten list that awards virtual trophies to those who red-line it enough to get up there. Like the few John and I got today…ahem.


Apart from trophies, Strava hands out ‘medals’ as well, which I think is your own personal Leader Board. On this particular Segment list it all looks like a bit of overkill – I mean, it was just a friggin’ ride in the Vaunage – but I can see the benefit of comparing these climbs with previous efforts, more than comparisons with other riders, actually.

There’s a lot more to Strava, like a Suffer Score, Analysis, etc., but I haven’t paid to become a premium user, so I don’t know how these things work really. You can also join ‘clubs’, or create your own. You can take part in Challenges (like climbing the accumulative elevation of all the Spring Classics races within a certain time frame), find other riders who are on Strava, compare yourself with them unfavorably, or maybe even otherwise. Like Facebook, the entertainment never ends.

For now I’m having a bit of fun with Strava, but I can see that it could potentially be taken a little seriously for über-competitive and narcissistic types (like people who write write blogs, for example).

However, there’s a darker side to Strava, involving car draftings, EPO, and even death! Read all about it in this long, but pretty interesting article from Outside:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to create a segment for my driveway and see if I can get a KOM out of this puppy.

23 thoughts on “Strava: Swedish for ‘Beware the Hole of Obsession You are About to be Sucked Into’

  1. the garmin 500 is the best present my wife ever gave me. I have become a strava fan, but dread losing my koms everytime we get a visitor from Austin. I got a kom back this week thanks to a tailwind. It was the highlight of my year so far.

  2. OK, OK, I’m sorry again, the second one was still rough – anyway, yes, you should be on strava if you want to track your progress. It’s a great way to see where you are vs yourself previously and vs others….


    • I haven’t done enough of the same segment yet to see the benefits of self-comparison, but I am sure they are there. Each year I have a ‘benchmark’ ride for a few months of training, as well, which will be great to see on a list. I suppose I could keep that one private, too, and only I would show up. Is that right, you think?

  3. Ok if its open season on taking the piss….i thought you were in trouble with the fat gun thingy you ordered .
    .strava could spell trouble. All right. kidding

    Enjoy the kom hunting its good fun…just fun.


    • It’s all for the blog, Roan. It’s all for the blog. By the way, what do Irish in Ireland do for St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll check Strava later and find out…

  4. I’m well and truly a strava addict, and I find there’s plenty of time to be spent analysing rides while watching tv etc, after the legs have done their work. I use the Edge 800 which, when combined with the course feature, I’ve used to systematically improve times on my regular climbs and TT routes. I also really like the social aspect. I now know and feel connected to both my local community of riders. We inspire and compete with one another and hand out kudos generously. The premium features are good I think. Apart from power analysis you can look at your rankings by age and weight as well. Happy training!

    • James, I’d wager that for one person it can be a useful way of measuring progress and finding a great community of other like-minded riders; and for another it will become an obsession that drives him/her to go out hunting segments they can get a KOM on to make them feel better about themselves. But I’m with you at the moment. For me it’s simply a relief to know I don’t need to buy a Garmin to get GPS results!

  5. Strava is the Campagnolo version of Facebook. Very correct.
    And fun to know that “mates” who follow you really only want to know what they need to do to humiliate your KOM effort where your lungs and spleen were left on the side of the road.
    I climbed 2400 meters today. If you followed me on Strava like Roan does, you would know that and go ooooh, good work Steve, and I would feel all warm and fuzzy inside…
    If you don’t choose to follow me by tomorrow I will be deeply offended…
    Also seriously, Tim Marsh, posted a really good article about why Strava, if taken too seriously, will actually jepodise your training regime. Worth a read before you devote all your time to this new toy!
    But enjoy, it will add a new element to your rides!

    • I don’t know if you are referring to me or the collecting ‘you’ of all my blog readers, but I’m following you, I’ll have you know, M. VeloRoo! You, however, don’t appear to be following me, bro!

  6. LOL @ Rich.
    I am a premium subscriber (forgot to turn it off during injury, oops). The only real benefits are to measure heart rate zones or power analysis. If you’re using a phone, then it probably wouldn’t help you much. That said, to fully get out from under that rock, you have to get a Garmin or something similar.

      • I want one of those too. Good thing cycling is such an inexpensive sport. 😉

        On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM, The Vicious Cycle wrote:

        > ** > Gerry commented: “I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, Aaron. Just like > the power meter I’m been coveting for some time now.” >

  7. I have been on Strava for just over a year now and love it. As some have already said, awesome to see how many other local talented riders there are out there and a great way to give yourself that added kick in the arse to do better. I have read a fair bit about the darker side as you call it. As with everything there is the potential for abuse. I hope and suspect it is just the minority.

    • I think you’re right, James. John and I were having a few chuckles over the segments some locals here are making – any little pimple of a hill pretty much. And this is in a country where Strava is basically unknown compared to N. America, I imagine. But after all that grumpiness, I really like the fact that I can make a segment of my own liking and, at the very least, compare my own times on it. Fun stuff.

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