The Devil’s own App

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Yep it’s time to talk Strava!

For the non cyclists Strava is an application that takes data from a GPS bike computer or smartphone and uses it plot your route. Let’s face it even in a world where technology changes at a lightning fast pace that’s nothing new. The way Strava plots your ride on a google style map is nice and the fact that it shows the elevation you have climbed is great especially living where I do right by the South Downs. More good things about Strava? It’s free to download to your smart phone, it doesn’t steal all your battery like the previous app I tried, it shows your speed and power in watts and will estimate the calories you burn. It records each ride individually and gives you weekly, monthly or lifetime stats of your riding mileage but that’s not the killer feature.

The best bit about Strava (which apparently is Swedish for strive) is that its a Social Media type app too.  All you need to do is press start and go for a ride. When you finish the ride and upload it Strava plots your route for any “segments” , sections of your ride that another rider has saved and compares you against every other rider to have riden that segment and everytime you have ridden it too.  This turns every ride into a potential time trial, enabling you to compare your performance over the same stretch of tarmac or off-road trail. This is great for me as a motivational tool and its surprising how a ride you don’t think is great turns out to be quicker than you thought, its also why Strava is the Devil’s own App because now everytime I go out I’m wondering how my ride is shaping up against previous rides on the same route, can I get a Personal Best Medal on the leaderboard, can I move move up the leaderboard into the top ten (top 100 would be great on most of my rides!).

This is the bit of Strava that has led to criticism that people are riding recklessly in an effort to beat a target.   A cyclist currently faces charges of manslaughter in San Francisco after  accusations he ignored a red light and crashed into a 71-year-old pedestrian who later died from head injuries. According to prosecutors, the accused was using  Strava at the time. As the BBC Report shows Strava’s founder is aware of the implications but at the end of the day, you can’t blame the technology for people riding dangerously.

The Social bit of Strava is not only trying to beat your best time but to beat that of other riders too, particularly if those are people you know and “follow”. Being the top of a leaderboard for a segment means you get the coveted “King (or queen) of the mountains” until of course someone knocks you off the top spot.  For motivation Strava will also send you a weekly email telling you how the riders you follow have done in the previous week, and if you need more motivation to get out and ride, knowing other people you know have been out is a pretty good motivator, trust me; and anything that encourages fitness by making people aware that their friends are exercising can’t be bad can it?

Another neat function, if you are on holiday or visiting a new area you can have a look for segments near to you to ride, so without being local you can tap into the knowledge of local cyclists and hopefully find an enjoyable route whether you are a roadie MAMIL or into off road riding.

There is another review of Strava here if you don’t believe me, but beware and enable the privacy function as apparently Police think thieves are using technology to pinpoint locations of nice bikes to steal with nearly £175K worth of bikes stolen in Staffordshire in just 4 months.

If you are interested you can see my Strava profile here and i’ll be using it to track my training and ,iPhone battery permitting, to record the ride from Paris to London.

And please don’t forget what all this is for and if you can please donate a few pennies here or text BBBR51 £2 to 70070.

Thanks and Happy Stravaing

Si

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