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Started using Strava (It’s good to be the King!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

May
2
2012
A couple of screenshots of the free Strava app running on my android-based Samsung Galaxy S II phone. Also available for iPhone.

A couple of screenshots of the free Strava app running on my android-based Samsung Galaxy S II phone. Also available for iPhone.

A very cool cycling (and running) training, tracking and competition service recently came to my attention: Strava. Rather than attempt to describe what this service does, I’ll simply post the synopsis in Strava’s own words:

“Strava grew out of our own needs as athletes. With busy lives requiring much solo training, we missed the sense of camaraderie and friendly competition that drove us to achieve our best through training with others. We envisioned Strava as the means to put our workouts and races into context. We call that social fitness.

Today, Strava lets athletes all over the world experience social fitness—sharing, comparing and competing with each other’s personal fitness data via mobile and online apps. Currently focused on the needs of avid cyclists and runners, Strava lets you track your rides and runs via your iPhone, Android or dedicated GPS device to analyze and quantify your performance. Strava makes fitness a social experience, providing motivation and camaraderie even if you’re exercising alone.”

Not only does Strava allow you to track your runs and rides along with a multitude of interesting and helpful stats (similar to–but even more comprehensive than–the excellent Google MyTracks), they’ve taken things a step further and added a competitive aspect to training that is extremely addictive.

This is the current leaderboard for the entire main loop at Mt. Dora, which I now sit at the top of. :)

This is the current leaderboard for the entire main loop at Mt. Dora, which I now sit at the top of. 🙂

Most of you know that when I’m mountain biking I like to time myself on predefined routes. I love trying to beat my best times. Well, with Strava I can compare my best times to the best times of other riders! You can compete against other riders on existing so-called “segments”, or even define your own segments. When you ride an existing segment, Strava automatically recognizes that and compares your data to others who have ridden that same segment. For a very competitive guy like me, this feature is pretty awesome.

Strava works its magic by using GPS and altimeter data supplied by your iPhone or Android-based phone (the apps are free). Even better, if you have a Garmin device (such as the Garmin Edge 500) with a heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor, you get even more awesome data goodness.

Yesterday I didn’t have much time to ride, but I decided to head over to Mt. Dora and try Strava out. My goal, of course, was to become “King of the Mountain” (KOM), and beat the fastest time on the main loop. I did three laps, and rode “Gravity Destroyer” up and down. I didn’t concern myself with segments: I just rode as I always do, and let Strava figure out which segments matched my routes.

Bike on a Trail photo for yesterday. I took this photo right after locking down my first King Of the Mountain (KOM) award.

Bike on a Trail photo for yesterday. I took this photo right after locking down my first King Of the Mountain (KOM) award.

When I finished the ride I was very happy to see that I had the best time ever ridden on one complete lap of the main loop at Mt. Dora! I also had the 3rd best ever time on “Gravity Destroyer” downhill, and the 5th best time on “Gravity Destroyer” uphill. I did the uphill at the end of my ride, and so I was beat. I’m pretty confident that I can become KOM on these segments, and more.

And so this is where Strava becomes so addictive. I guarantee the guy I knocked of the top of the mountain is going to see my time and get back out there ASAP with the goal of taking his title back. Of course I won’t be resting on my laurels, either. I’m going to be back out there every chance I get trying to beat my own record (and take down a few more!)

There are no defined segments at Wekiwa, which is a place I often ride. I can’t wait to get out there and create my own segments, which will then be visible to everyone else using Strava. As many of your know, there is one section of trail at Wekiwa that I always time myself on. That will be the first segment I create, and I’ll be very interested to see how fast other people ride it. That section of trail is mine, and I’ll defend my KOM title like it’s my child. 😀

Definitely give this free* service a try. The stats and friendly competition will make you want to ride and/or run harder and more often!

*Note that Strava offers a premium service, but the free service is very comprehensive.

John Stone Fitness Comments

2 Responses to “Started using Strava (It’s good to be the King!)”
    • Mountain biking is addictive enough on its own, but being able to compete against other riders on Strava takes that addiction up another notch.

      Sports Tracker looks cool for sharing your rides and checking your post-ride stats, but it lacks the robust competition features found on Strava. The competition aspect of Strava is pretty ingenious.

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