ProVisions 5 - Strava Unbound

Sep 4, 2013 at 22:00
Sep 4, 2013
by Ryan Leech  
 
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We like to ride and push ourselves. We like technology and information–Strava integrates these into an app that riders love…or hate.

Speed, distance, time, elevation and GPS stats are tracked, knowing this info about your rides is pretty rad, but what makes Strava so powerful is that it compares and ranks your riding stats with all the other riders who have ridden the same trail or segment of trail. User's fitness and skill levels are ramping-up quickly as a result, but like anything powerful, addiction and abuse is common.

I began using the app in preparation for the BC Bike Race. Having never used a cycle computer or GPS, I had no idea what the distance or elevation of my rides were, using Strava was revealing, it was clear I had to significantly increase my training if I wanted to survive and enjoy the event. Knowing I had Strava running on my phone was incredibly motivating. The fact that I was being ranked and that my Strava friends would see my ride stats helped me push my edges further than I would have on my own. I discovered I was still a very competitive dude, and I also found myself in the best shape of my life, well prepared for the demands of the BC Bike Race. Additionally I was left with an awesome diary of all my training rides and a great resource of trail ride ideas by looking at the maps of my friends' rides.

Race starts under BOB the Bear.
Strava can turn any solo ride in to a race

While I love what Strava has given to our sport and our riders, I worry about what it is taking away. If you get lost in a world full of climbing elevation and downhill segments stats, you’ll have created what Ken Wilber calls, a ‘flatland’ world for yourself. This is ‘scientific materialism’, and it’s an easy world to get sucked in to based on what our society values, measurable results.

bigquotes...Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its: "a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly. - Ken Wilber - Integral Psychology p.64

My training and Strava habits narrowed my experience on the trail, and that smacked up against my values. I enjoy stopping on a ride to take in the view or do some yoga, and I found myself trading the richness of what riding can offer for Strava results. The most incredible feelings that are available on a bike ride cannot be measured; when I’m in training mode, chasing results, and racing toward personal bests I have far fewer of those memorable peak experiences. The thing that inspires me most about riding is those experiences, not the maintenance of KOM’s (King of the Mountain).


When you leave out or forget to bring attention to your inner experience, emotion, connecting with friends and communing with nature, you may also begin to make some unethical and morally suspect choices, especially under the influence of Strava. If nailing that KOM or QOM (Queen of the Mountain) is a large contributor to your sense of value as a person, then you may justify cutting a corner on the artfully built trail or even take a shortcut to get that record time. When you’re ripping faster than ever to achieve self-worth, errr, KOM, and someone is in the way, you’re now justified to yell at that person “OUT OF THE WAY!”. Again, society cares about whether we measure up, Strava gives us a very clear record of whether you do.


So what lengths are you willing to go to in your solo strava moments? What would your friends say if they saw how you secretly use Strava and mull over the details, searching for KOM’s to nab? Is puking at the top of a climb worth it? (almost guilty). Is breaking your body on a DH segment worth it? What are you worth? What are you capable of beyond this ‘flatland’ world?

I acknowledge that I’m a competitive person, and with thanks to Strava for reminding me, I’ve worked to integrate that in to the values that I hold higher than my flatland measurable results. I will still push my edges because there is so much growth that comes from doing so, but I’m aware of when I do and it is a choice, not a self worth necessity. How you use Strava is what matters.

Ryan Leech is sponsored by Norco Bicycles, Ryders Eyewear, Kenda, Shimano and RockShox. He performs trials shows at select special events and schools. Intimate with the benefits of yoga for a thriving pro career, he got certified to teach and just released a new Yoga for Cyclists Video and offers yoga and mountain bike workshops around the country. As a Professional Integral Coach™, he works privately with people, such as pro athletes, during transition to help them discover what’s next more quickly and with less suffering.


The ProVisions Article Series:

ProVisions #1: Are you Crazy?
ProVisions #2: On a Crash Course?
ProVisions #3: Free Your Freeriding
ProVisions #4: I Am the Trail
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157 Comments

  • + 66
 Love it, adds another layer to a ride that we never had before. Adds some friendly competition amongst friends. Only "try" for segments when I'm riding solo. When riding with bros, its all about the ride.
  • + 52
 Thats pretty much the way to do it. I used to hate riding on my own, now with strava when I do my local loop that I know by heart I can aim for personal best or KOMs. It actually motivates me to "train" when out solo. When i'm with the club then it might be on, but only to track elevation or so I have a GPS trace of the loop, just with the bonus that I get to see if any pros have ridden the same segments and how godly their times are.

#1 Rule of strava segments: If you come across walkers/riders etc, give up on beating that segment and be courteous like you ought to be.
  • + 10
 I occasionally use strava (when I remember to turn it on) and enjoy looking at my highest/average speed elevation and all that jazz. The only issue I have is we people create segments that is on private/no human access areas. Much (actually 100%) of the riding around my area is illegal and crosses over to a protected area... I was out for my usual morning ride... Next minute... Police helicopter... Police motorbikes... And me pedalling my arse off to get out of there!!!! How did they find out where the "secret" tracks were located... STRAVA...
  • + 11
 Certainly agree with your No. 1 Rule Mugen
  • + 4
 I used to use strava, however I tend not to like taking my phone with me on rides so i turned to a gramin GPS watch. That this manages to track my speed, distance, elevation, Heart rate, everything, and then when i get home automatically uploads it to the internet for me to look at. I was amazed to find out that just a short loop on a trail i ride frequently takes me 30 mins give or take about 20 seconds each time. Now i have a record of all my times for all my rides, and can even see how hard i was pushing myself by analyzing the HR chart. One of my best investments since my bike!
  • - 2
 They aint that secret and the cops have been chasing motos in there for a lot longer than the existence of Strava.
  • + 2
 Strava lets them know exactly where people are riding, and if used regularly when they are riding there.
  • + 11
 police helicopter? sounds a bit serious, you sure there aren't any plantations up there?
  • + 1
 Nail on the head comments right here. If the trail looks good i'll try for a segment but won't cry if I have to back out. I find the competitiveness encouraging and have been known to ride on my "off" nights as my buddy who I know is slower than me just pipped one of my times.
  • + 1
 I personally hate getting in races or riding with other people, I'm kind of a lone wolf myself. So I really enjoy kicking ass and stealing KOMs on strava. Ever since I have it, I addicted to my Garmin, only ride fast, and trying to do better than yesterday. Love the challenges and enjoy competing with folks around the world. I ride XC, road and trail, and it is incredibly useful for times, performance, heart rate, cadence, finding, making new trails, as well as making your own segments. I bet it could be vert useful for someone who does Down Hill as well...
  • + 1
 @webby yes there are haha plus it's a national park with all protection laws like cultural and natural stuff they just don't want people going in there
  • + 2
 Cameronb3321, i know it's off topic but which model garmin GPS watch did you buy?
  • + 1
 Strava is a danger to trail access. Since Strava, I've seen a lot more failures to yield on the trail, and many mountain bikers almost running over hikers or other mountain bikers. But hey, gotta bag that KOM, even if it does mean putting someone else in danger and pissing off other trail users.

I use Endomondo to track my total mileage and all my rides, not to go up against anyone else. It even has an auto pause feature that stops the clock while I'm resting/waiting/yielding so I never have to take it out of my pack til the end. I still get all the joy out of tracking my mileage and times, but I'm only competing against myself and not tempted to be a Strava*shole.
  • + 0
 Correct, nothing encourages reckless riding like strava, especially since it's usually solo riders without a group so they may have any sense of accountability. People who strava on multi user trails should be looked down upon. Just go to a real race and test your skills in the same conditions a as everyone.. I have heard of people destroying competitions with a motorcycle. As long as it isn't a steep DH a moto can put the KOM records out of reach and if it is a steep DH there probably aren't others users.
  • - 3
 Yep, I am going to agree with Protour on this.

Here in the states there is currently a lawsuit involving a (road)bicyclist that ran over and killed a pedestrian while trying to beat a KOM.

Another kid crashed and died while trying to beat a road KOM.

While Strava is not to be blamed for this , it does make it easier and more tempting for people to ride in a more dangerous manner than they would have normally.


And the mistakes of a few in the sport of mountain biking carry penalties that we must all bear.


They should really just get rid of the whole KOM. People can't be trusted to use it responsibly.
  • + 11
 Yeah, they should get rid of guns, cars, motorcycles, alcohol, phones, and the list goes on, Since people don't seem to ever learn how to control themselves. Riiight... The thing is, we all ride for different reasons, some to relax, some to work out, some to let the hate out, some to commute, some to go to the bar, and the only thing we all have in common is the 2 wheels between our legs. It doesn't mean that because I'm trying to break a KOM I'm gonna ride recklessly throughout the woods or road like an idiot. There's times to do stuff, can't go flying on a Sunday morning when you know there's beginners and families all over the place, just like you won't be trying to brake any KOM on the road at rush hr. There's also a thing called "riding etiquette", and so many people that don't even use a gps device don't even know what that is. The fact that some idiots don't care for others while riding, don't mean that everybody is the same. I believe that if there's enough communication and consideration, the relax rider and the competitive can live together in peace, cuz I've been riding for personal records long before strava shows up with the "KOM" era, and never had an accident with hikers or other riders. Another thing that's potentially hazardous is people who stop in the middle of a downhill or curve to take a photo, change a song or talk shit with their bodies not giving a danm about other riders, or riders and hikers who go real slow in the middle of the trail or road with their headphones so loud they can't hear anything going on around them. I think the missing piece here is "consideration" for others, while braking a KOM or just riding/hiking to relax.
  • - 2
 Are you really trying to compare mountain biking to things that require licenses, exams, background checks, and insurance to operate because they are so potientially dangerous?
  • + 11
 Just a couple of random examples...and from the way you sound, Im guessing you didn't read the whole comment. Anyway, What's the difference? A baseball bat don't require license to use, and in the wrong hands is potentially dangerous, a pen, even a beer bottle, and we can go at it all day long, but not because of that we have to eliminate them.. I'm guessing you are smart enough to get the point. Consideration more than choice is an obligation in order to be civilized, and an app should not be an excuse to act like a savage, and not because of a couple of savages we should all be judged and punished as equals. The point is, I'm not trying to be a smart ass, cuz that's the easiest thing to do around here. I'm just trying to make some conscience, cuz I'm pretty sure Strava is not the problem, bullies will be bullies...
  • - 2
 I read your whole comment, and I am not sure you read mine: I specified that Strava is not to blame, but just like a gun or brass knuckles make it easier for a bully to bully, so too does Strava( KoM, in particular ) make it easier for a bad rider to cause problems on the trail.

But seriously, you don't really think a baseball bat to be the same level of dangerous as a car or a gun do you?

While everything is dangerous at some level, clearly some items will be more dangerous than others: KOM. Is a great example ,talking a pretty benign thing like recording mileage and average speed and Turning it into a race on the multi use trail that nobody was warned about ahead of time.
  • + 1
 I agree. While I don't think Strava is to blame in itself (I think the Strava lawsuit is BS and Strava shouldn't be liable), I am fundamentally against things that encourage a*sholes to be a*sholes, or push those on the borderline over into a*sholedom. KOMs (especially downhill) should not exist on multi-use trails and should be disabled. If people want to KOM the bike parks all day long then so be it. At least they're not going to run over some little kid doing it.
  • + 0
 I've been using Strava for over a year now, and I'll admit its been fun, made me faster etc... It also took some fun out of my rides, since I was killing myself trying to get KOM's. After I got them I took it easy and it was fun again. Now I'm see my KOM's and others being crushed my huge margins that I can't even come close to. I know dirt bikes are to blame in some instances. So I think the KOM should be remove in hopes that cheating douche bags will go else where. I live in hawaii, and we don't have nearly as many races as the lower 48 does, strava was like a silent race for me, but now it can piss off.
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  • + 28
 I tossed the computer from my road bike 10 years ago because I realized that I spent more time calculating distance, avg. speed, max speed, and the like than enjoying the beauty of the area through which I ride. Never regretted it for a moment. No way I'd ADD that to my mtb riding.
  • + 6
 the article is deceiving trying to tell you to use it to train and get better . i like to think of it as a rivcalry against your buddys and the cocky guys you know in town beat theyre time then they shut up.
  • + 7
 Agreed, id much rather enjoy the ride for the experience and passion rather than riding for some stupid numbers that tell you how much slower/faster you are than the other guy or girl. Piss off strava
  • + 6
 I use this app. Not to see my times or use it to train. I just find it cool to use when I go for evening cruises with friends around town to see how many km we logged. But it's also cool to see how fast you can get going through the strait away on A-line. Some cool functions like elevation gain and other stuff. It's a nifty thing to use if you're just mucking about.
  • + 3
 I'm the same way i found myself thinking about the stupid computer on my bike and it was taking away from enjoyment of the trail. I also realized i don't do well with computers and also realized I'm still rockin my swivel flip phone from four years ago so i can't record on my phone and forget about it. apparently the only thing i can do on computers is use pinkbike. I agree its a great tool for training but it just aint for me. I know when a ride was faster or slower than usual by how many songs i listened to on my ipod during a climb or decent.
  • + 4
 Love/ Hate with Strava.. Yeah the stats are kinda cool, but I like to ride to have fun. Being aware that stats are being kept, kind of got in the way of the fun some times..

I'm thinking of changing settings to "mark private" by default.. so it's more of a "Ride Diary".. so I know what I've been up to.
  • + 1
 I use endo mondo which I only look at after I have finished a ride and it is satisfying to know exactly how far you went and how fast you went. Also it maps my rides so I can show them to mates. I never look at it during the ride though and I have only used it once on my downhill bike which was to see how fast I could get on a smooth flowy track.
  • - 1
 Strava is an excellent training tool for racers and I feel like if you can't handle getting stacked up against other riders then maybe you should try uploading to a different, non competitive website like Garmin Connect.
  • + 8
 strava said I went 102 mph yesterday.. such an excellent training tool
  • + 5
 who else is tracking you i wonder..
  • + 11
 Using Strava doesn't mean you enjoy a ride any less, I turn it on when I go for a ride and don't look at it 'til I get back. It's in the back of my mind if I get to a segment where I think I can go pretty fast but it's just cool to see how many miles you've done and how fast etc. Don't assume that just because someone uses Strava that they suddenly have the mind of a Tour De France racer.
  • + 4
 Agree with you Sam Davies. I also just pop it in my bag and only look at it when I get home. Its good to just rack up the miles and see how fast you can get and how long your routes are. Perfect for fitness!
  • + 2
 see, reasonable Strava users are just that - reasonable. These aren't the guys getting attention by acting like douchebags on the trails when they run into other trail users. the cooler-than-thou Strava crowd makes the reasonable Strava crowd look bad.
  • + 2
 Dude... Don't be harsh on yourself. I think you did it. Strava wouldn't lie! Wink
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  • + 25
 I really don't see why people are finding it so difficult to use Strava as a handy tool to keep track of monthly riding, remembering some good rides, gauge personal fitness and every once in a while, when feeling like it, having a competitive base against which to compare yourself? If it becomes anything more, you're using it wrong....
Not like I'd turn back from the trailhead because I forgot my GPS.
  • + 2
 You are exactly right. You are using it in the ideal way. But thats the point of this article, that many people take it to far.
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  • + 10
 Strava definitely motivates me to ride more, pin sections of trail, and compete with buddies. That's it. Don't be a Strava a-hole. If you're going for a KOM and someone gets in your way you've got a reason to come back and try again. Figure out when you want chill time, and when you want to pin it. I don't understand the hatred just to hate, and I don't understand the willingness to ruin someone's flow. Ryan Leech is a pimp.
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  • + 11
 Strava isn't even accurate, try putting your phone and a buddies in the same pocket, check the times at the end. It does work great however when you get KOM, totally accurate.
  • + 9
 Ha ha. Here to find another user mention this. Why Leech overlooked this is a bit of a surprise to me. I thought he might round out the essay with "Hey don't forget - your mileage may, I mean, WILL vary."
Case in point - last week I did a casual ride at Tokul Creek with two friends. Here's what the almighty Strava says:
I rode 7.8 miles, climbed 1,662 feet. I have an iPhone 4S
Chris rode 7.5 miles, climbed 1,747 feet. He has an iPhone 5
Ryan rode 7.4 miles, climbed 1,631 feet. He has an iPhone 4S I think.
And yet we were all side by side on the same ride for the same time period. Strava's a novelty, little more. If it makes you ride like a d-bag then that's on you.
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  • + 8
 I deleted my Strava account earlier this season, and I think it was the best decision I've made for my riding in a long time. Even if I didn't consciously think about it, there was always this "phantom" time keeper in my hydration pack. At the end of the ride I'd always see how well, or poorly I did. It started sucking the Zen out of my rides. For me, that wasn't a good trade off for knowing how fast I did a trail, what segments I did well on, or where I stacked up against my fellow local riders. I just deleted it, and now my rides are all about finding the flow of the trail. I feel some trails have a maximum speed (which may not be very fast in some cases, may be quite fast in others) for optimum flow. I like finding that flow in my local trails. My favourite feeling in mountain biking is when you get that sensation of gliding through the trail, totally connected to it, and that's all that is in your mind. It's hard to get that feeling when you've gone beyond the natural flow speed of a trail and you're monster trucking through it to shave a few seconds off your segment time. When you no longer have an app timing you, and you're not in competition with anyone, the peaceful Zen of trail riding comes back. I've fully enjoyed my riding much, much more since I dropped off the face of planet Strava.
  • + 5
 Very well said, and mimics my experience exactly. Strava was stealing my zen so it had to go.
  • + 4
 I totally agree with you mountain-man78, its all about maintaining the Zen of riding.
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  • + 7
 Strava ruins your ride? C'mon people! Turn it on to begin, toss it in a bag/pocket, turn it off when you're done.

1st time I've ridden w/electronics in over 30yrs of riding & enjoy it...I can finally find how much I ride in a year.
It's made zero changes in how I ride.
  • + 6
 This is my approach to Strava as well... Almost... It did make one change, there is this brutal 30 minute fireroad climb that I often ride, and now I go just a little farther up the trail to where the climbing segment ends, before I stop for a breather. It has been really cool to see my fitness slowly improve by using that one segment as a benchmark...
  • + 1
 Seriously, for the people who are losing sleep over strava and "finally made the decision to delete my account" then your thinking way too hard into this and are probably out trying to beat some KOM as we speak. I enjoy this app because it gives me tons of features and its free with my phone. It also shows me new rides. Not everyone is using it because they want to go run over hikers trying to get KOM, its a great app that has some great features.
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  • + 6
 Strava is fun, but it fails to do one major thing... Calculate all of the trails rad features that I love to hit, which usual burn up extra time. I tend to just enjoy the ride now, besides it's not cool to run over hikers
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  • + 4
 I started using Strava about 6 months ago and very quickly became obsessed with it :-( .... In the mean time I've actually learned to use it properly , for example , riding a Segment with a certain Heart-rate and not totally over the limit trying to get the best time. That way I could compare my times much better. The fact that I didn't have to start/stop my computer ( which I always forgot anyway ) really helps. Used properly Strava is a great tool. It's helped me to re-find my motivation for biking and running in general , I can see how lazy I've been in the last 4 weeks ;-) .... By providing the possibility to "Virtually" compete against other riders/runners , if used the right way can hugely improve your fitness/strength. But beware and don't turn it into a Video game !
I enjoy my tours more than ever now. I stop when I want to, enjoy the view, or drink a coffee :-)
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  • + 4
 I've heard many hikers taking about Strava. They said bikers will ride up on them and start yelling "Strava". WTF. If you want to race, go to a race. Don't race on our local trails and put people in danger. This also puts a bad name on bikers. Just because you are using Strava doesn't mean you have the right away.
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  • + 3
 Everyone is lying to themselves if they don't love to look down and see that they just put in a solid run and they know they are getting better. Of course there are always people that ruin a good thing, but those same people were dicks before strava and they will continue to be dicks after. The app didn't turn a good guy into a bad guy. I watched to women ride down miracle mile this past weekend at big bear only to get MF'd by some prick bc they were in his way. Guy wasn't using strava either as he never grabbed a phone from his pocket at the bottom of the lift. Some people just suck and that's to bad. No one here can argue it's nice to say hello to other riders when crossing paths, but everyone knows there's always some A hole out there who just treats people poorly.
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  • + 3
 Ryan, thanks for the great article. It's easy to become consumed with being KOM or even just being faster than the next guy or girl on the trail. For me, at least on paper, I think there will always be riders that I am better than and there will always be riders that are better than me. However, going along with the point you made, the effort we put forth in pushing ourselves on our rides transcends to other walks of life and makes us an overall better, more self-willed, and determined person. At the same time, the emotional benefits we gain through our experiences with nature and friends while on a ride is invaluable.
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  • + 3
 STRAVA has been really good for me 4 months ago I was 15 half stone . I was struggling to loose the weight and lacked in pushing myself to get out . Ridding alone was becoming harder and my normal rout that has a monster climb was real real hard work best time for me at that time on that climb was 134 mins . Now 4 months later with the help of STRAVA I'm 12 stone and best time on that moster hill is 52 seconds . Also I ride 23.9 miles hard xc in 1 hour 57 mins . Before I would not Evan ride 10 miles but found STRAVA gave me a push just when I needed it . Really please with the results from STRAVA my only complant is if I run STRAVA and play music STRAVA messes with the music cutting it off on or STRAVA stops working . I think this maybe the phone not being able to cope with to many running at the same time . 10 stars for STRAVA
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  • + 2
 Like any tool I use it when I need it. Some weeks I get to ride every night and some just 2 times. Tonight I rode for 4 hrs MTB with no Strava. Tonight was about my passion and a little exploring, and I knew before I left I didn't give a rats ass about knowing where or how fast. Some nights I only have a short time frame to get some exercise. Having Strava recording, knowing I will be riding through 5-6 segments I have hit before, and that my buds will see my stats, it helps me to push myself and get a better workout. My short workouts are on a MTB and I'm riding segments that speed bikes would normally ride. It REALLY motivates me to hammer on the pedals, especially on the segmented climbs! It's helped. It's great tool and like even a shop tool, it has a time and place. But there's now way I would record every ride. Like tonight, my ride was completely about me and my bike. Clearing my mind and feeling the wind in my face.
  • + 1
 Well said.
  • + 2
 ... Little tired and thought for a nanosecond I read MTBViagra... I should get to sleep.
  • + 2
 LOL it's the Viagra that kept ya up so late in the first place!
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  • + 2
 a good alternative to strava is garmin connect. I dont ride with a phone because i dont need to destroy an iphone every few months but a $100 Garmin200 will track all of the strava stuff, and allows upload to the computer. I find the OS of garminconnect a lot better than strava and it acts more like a ride diary more than anything else.
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  • + 2
 I upload rides from my garmin to strava, but mainly use garmin connect because it is way more accurate and the courses feature is my preferred training tool because it offers a real time read out of your performance against your previous time. Strava can be fun, but the number of segments popping up is crazy in my area and the time that strava calculates can very a lot from the real time when I use a stopwatch. Also, friends on the same ride using their phones to log rides are showing almost double the elevation I am and can have up to a minute difference to me on one six minute trial even though we are riding together. This really made me lose faith in all the PBs I'd set on strava. I think garmin are missing a trick not providing some type of strava like system taking advantage of the better accuracy of their systems and website. It always amazes me how the strava segment heroes struggle to keep up when you actually go toe to toe on a real ride.
  • + 2
 Totally agree. I stopped using Strava as it was so inaccurate and wildly different between devices. This was probably more due to the gps capabilites of the devices but still made comparisons between myself and mates and myself against previous rides usless.
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  • + 2
 Strava acted like a calorie counter for me. It gave me an idea of what my performance output is on my typical trails given a few different variables. After using it for a bit, it became unnecessary as I had a really good understanding of what a 1,000 cal. ride felt like. Ryan, I follow you on Strava and checking in on what you're doing from time to time is a real inspiration and helps me push myself.
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  • + 2
 i do all of this stuff and use STRAVA. When I am out on my bike i like to enjoy what is around me and sit and talk with friends or God. It is just so peaceful on my bike but sometimes I like to push myself. I don't always push myself the whole ride, sometimes I will go for a couple segments and thats it.
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  • + 2
 I think that online real time comparison to other riders spoils everything for normal people. I ride my bike for pleasure and enjoyment of the Nature not to be the fastest on this particular trail. To be honest I don't give a rats ass about nonstop competition with everything. Keep mountainbikinkg out of this.

BTW: I'm using this to have gps tracks and it's lovely without forcing me to speed up endurorider.pl/2013/06/cateye-stealth-10
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  • + 3
 Wow, great dialogue, thanks for all the thoughtful comments and perspectives everyone.

One last question for those that use Strava, how do you determine when to give 'Kudos'? What is it based on?

Cheers!
  • + 1
 When I like the look of someones ride; whether thats a cool place, big miles or lots of trophies/KOMs. I think of it similar to the like button on Facebook. Pretty meaningless but there for giving quick appreciation. Smile
  • + 2
 When they get a bunch of PRs. Or complete a huge ride. Or just a really cool ride. Or get out with their kids (usually can tell from the title).
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  • + 3
 The only time I strava is when I come back from the bar, drunk and want to know how many beers it takes me to get that top speed on my fixed gear... yeah i'm weird! But Never I would bring strava on the mountain.
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  • + 6
 Strava is fun if you are KOM
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  • + 3
 Strava enthusiast aren't bikers, they are strava enthusiast. Enjoy biking not an app or a video at the end of the ride. Riders from the 90s would be disgusted with all of you.
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  • + 2
 its a whole load of rubbish. the amount of variants from weather to even what device you are using is huge. iv used my bryton and my phone on the same rides before and got totally different readings.
i love using it and it does make me ride faster and put alot more effort in, however iv even compared the logged rides on the 2 devices and sometimes its all over the place (sometimes it even seems to think im riding round in circles when iv been going in straight lines.) if it was alot more accurate id love it. i like it on road rides as i dont really know who the other riders are but on mountain bike rides where i know alot more of the riders and their skills. alot of the times they seem a little farfetched, wether this is due to cutting corners or lack of gps signal it becomes very annoying when you give it your all and someone you know whod you normally beat has put a minute or so onto you on a very short track. definatly thinking of deleting it unless it can somehow become more accurate.
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  • + 2
 We shouldn't let what others do annoy us but when you have a great run down a hill and look at the time on your phone only to see many other times from riders who are slower than you ahead gets frustrating mostly XC riders taking the fire road to the bottom of the hill...
The competion is great among your mates and your peers if they all stay within the rules and don't cut corners. I guess the sad cases that feel the need to take a DH bike on a XC track just to take that (line) that you can't on a Trail bike is a little sad really..
We all know who the cheats are and the even sadder thing is it's damaging the trails due to cutting corners straight lining and making ruts for water to follow .....yet again the XC riders/racers, none digging trail users are wrecking the trails .
Oh yeah does anybody know of any XC racers who dig? I don't
  • + 3
 Round here it was Enduro riders who created quite a few of the cheat lines - the trails were fine when just XC "trail rider" people were riding them.
  • + 1
 At my local spot XC riders create braking bumps, brake in burms. And ride up some of the less steep dh trails, and moan when you come flying down them. Never seen any of them digging. Not saying there all like that, but that strain on XCitus does my sweed!
  • + 2
 My favourite trail got some new straight lines lately, none of them adds flow to the trail, only one adds speed. Some of them are actualy slower. As Fabien Barel and Tracy Moseley said in some interview, once cutting line options are introduced the flow is gone because it screws your natural way of percieving trail by following the line. Anytime there's a split, your brain must consider options unless you rode it many times and embedded the right choice in it.

Im really considering going to the woods, putting lots of effort to put stones and branches on those stupid lines. Add camouflage maybe burms. I'll put a sign: long live mountain biking, original, better, perhaps harder trail to the left, I shit on your Strava - Learn to ride and respect.
  • + 2
 Bah, weaker riders have always taken the line of least resistance, since long before Strava. This is especially noticeable on moorland, natural trails where it is most damaging. Some strava types do cut corners, but I'm sure it's the minority creating a bad image for the majority. I personally enjoy looking at the scenery far too much to get good lap times. Riding is all about slowing down for me. That's not to say I'm not competitive on a few segments - I have my fast descents, but rarely whole loops. It's all just so pretty...
  • + 2
 Waki,

Isn't repairing 'trail damage' part of your normal trail work routine?
  • - 1
 Yes will fix this on closest trail maintenance days, which might be the first event like that in our area... hiking trails were holding very well until AM revolution came 5 years ago with light 120-160 bikes. Now since 3 years sport exploded, everything is almost ruined and authorities doing the worst thing ever, they are turning most of ruined trails into 1.5m wide gravel roads, even cutting trees. So basicaly we must stop erosion and authorities. In a way we will finaly be able to make some great trail features legaly, on another way I'm not sure I like the development of the sport...
  • + 0
 'scientific materialism' indeed. Fuck Strava and the horse it rode in on!
  • + 1
 you'll need a stepladder
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  • + 2
 I'm not sure why there is so much strava hate. If you can't use strava without being completely obsessed, that is your own deal. The people who are trying to pin it every ride with no regard to other trail users probably do that on a regular basis with or without strava... Once a douche bag, always a douche bag. That said, I usually try to run strava every ride. I like all the different information it provides... I like to be competitive, see how I measure up, set goals for myself, and have measurable progression... But that doesn't mean I am out there ruining trails, being rude to other trail users, or dont enjoy the scenery or company of a less experienced rider. I am still always willing to ride with enthusiastic beginner or intermediate riders, and usually hold back so they can keep up. I really don't get why people think it has to be such a bad thing. The point of this article, and relative to anything in life.... BALANCE is the key... If you can't handle not being obsessive compulsive and you lose your appreciation for nature... Then it's probably not for you. If you can keep a balance and learn when it's appropriate to push hard or to take it, strava can be a invaluable tool for any biking enthusiast.
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  • + 1
 I enjoy using strava and garmin connect. I could live without garmin connect, not strava. I use it to follow distances, elevation and times on my favourite segments. It motivates me to get better and challenge myself. Strava is the new Facebook!
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  • + 5
 Strava-free and loving it! :-)
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  • + 1
 I don't understand how pinning a trail faster than you ever have before to try and grab a KOM is bad?! As a racer, i like the fact that I'm giving it 100% a lot of the time and maybe I am going faster than this hippy shit 'natural trail flow' bollocks but I'm often on the edge of control having one hell of a ride. When racing you are doing exactly the same thing.
For me it's made getting race fit and ready for events so much better. I wonder how many of the haters here haven't even tried it?
  • + 2
 I'm not sure that not wanting to introduce strava to one's riding constitutes hating. Many of us are out for a ride where the goal is to re-create ourselves through two-wheeled jaunts in the woods. I have no desire to electronically monitor my rides, I let the muck on my face remind me that I pushed myself today as I see the grin looking back at me through the mirror.
  • + 2
 Reverend - Do you race? And do you have a desire to get to the podium if you do race? If there wasn't my desire to better myself and get onto the podium at events I doubt I'd be so keen to log rides and work out areas I need to work on through Strava's data. I totally understand the just wanting to ride and feel alive throuh doing it - I am a dirt jumper too and Strava has no place at the dirt jumps. that's just for smiles, air miles and good times with my buddies.
But surely people shouldn't knock something until they've tried it? Then they can decide whether its for them or not.
  • + 1
 I hear you @RobRiZen. I don't race, but do coach a high school team. We spend time on technique and skill development, as well as a regimen of climbing and fast trail riding. I did enter one Enduro, but did so mostly as an excuse to see what the scene was all about, and to ride with some good friends. I'm pushing 50, and have competed at a variety of levels in numerous sports as athlete, coach and official, and at this stage of my life, my precious time for doing the things I love means too much to me to expend energy comparing myself to anyone else. I've had the experience of being better than average in some things as a younger athlete, and have had my arse handed to me by far superior athletes in other situations. I am no longer interested in comparing myself to anyone else, nor to anyone else's experience. I ride for my pleasure and enjoyment, and that is quite enough for me.

That said, next Saturday I plan to enter my second ever trials competition in BC. As an old-fart novice I anticipate I'll be in a class by myself which is fine by me. I've seen prepubescent kids clean stuff I'll struggle on. No worries. I'll have a great time, and then watch the real trials riders in the afternoon. That will be amazing. It is magic, and I'll be in awe, and I am quite comfortable knowing that I will never be able to do what they do, but will continue to enjoy that part of the sport of mountain biking in my own way.

I don't think I knocked Stava, I simply stated that I have no desire to electronically monitor my rides. What anyone else does is up to them, and I wish everyone who rides as much enjoyment on each ride as I derive from mine... heck, even more, if they can figure out how to do that!
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  • + 6
 Bro do you even Strava?
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  • + 1
 Strava is good but I agree, takes some fun out of ridin.good to share rides off though....but as for trying to get a KOM I live near the peak district where some awesome riders ride, im never being a KOM but thats the point....I dont care as long as iv got a smile on my face shredding at MY OWN PACE.
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  • + 1
 F**k Strava!!
Cheat lines appearing all over trails, people riding motos on the climb segments, 'forgetting to turn off your Strava for the drive home (good way of pissing off roadie Strava users I admit) and apparently a website where you can 'alter' your times!!
Strava wan***s!!
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  • + 2
 It's great. I've just come back from injury, and I can see how much fitness and speed I've lost from segment results. It's pushing me massively to get to where I was and beyond.
  • + 2
 STRAVA SAVED MY LIFE! LONG LIVE STRAVA!!!
  • + 1
 It annoys me when people make sneaky segments just for the koms. ;-)
  • + 0
 Hell yeah, gotta keep my number of KOMs up as swines keep beating me on the other ones!! Haha. It annoys me when little bitches bitch about sneaky segments rather than coming to ride them and have a crack. Wink
  • + 0
 When my shoulders fixed try stop me! But how am I ment to do the seg that's inside your house! ;-) promise I didn't neg prop you lol
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  • + 1
 Cycling is too damn fun to take seriously, I use Strava to get amped to ride more, and have more fun.

Strava can be a bit of a double edged sword for sure. I love seeing how far my longest ride was, and knowing exactly how much I've ridden/climbed. I love it as a training/motivation tool, "lets ride 500 miles this summer" means a lot more, and gets me a lot more motivated than "lets try and ride a bunch". Riding the local loops can get old, but Strava and my personal goals make them fun, trying to add a half mile every time I ride, or another 500ft of climbing, and knowing exactly what to set the goal at, and if I actually met it helps me more than you'd imagine.

The downside is that some of my riding buddies take it way too seriously. I refuse to even ride with some anymore, all they care about is KOMs and being the fastest in the group. If they're slow on a hill, they have a shitty attitude for the rest of the ride, if they're faster, they won't shut up about how they beat you by 36 seconds and you ought to hit the gym to get on their level.

I don't let hardly anybody "follow" me, and I only follow 2-3 friends a a couple locals who flat out shred. To me it's motivating to see what a couple of the guys I see on the trail are doing. Next ride it gets me pumped to try and hang with them a little longer, that in turn makes me a little faster, and eventually leads to either riding harder trails, or longer trails.

Also my inner nerd uses it to make spread sheets to see how long components last.
  • + 1
 @maxyedor, how your middle paragraph points out the turning of a ride with friends into a competitive pain is part of the reason I have no desire to ever use the technology, nor ride with those who do. I too would refuse to ride with someone who insisted on turning each ride into a race. I know tons of people in the area and ride a number of trails I'm sure have been stravaed. I need compare myself to no one but myself, and my enjoyment is contingent only on whether I get out and ride or not. EVERY ride is a good ride, I like to say it is the best one of my life, since it is the one I'm on (all others either being either memory, or anticipated dream, neither of which is real like the present). And since there are TONS of racers XC and DH, both recreational and professional and phenomenal riders who eschew racing, but who are fast as hell on two wheels, who live and ride here, or pass through on their way to ride Whistler, or the BC Bike Race, or are passing through from BC to places South, I can assume that there are many people whom I am faster than, and many whom I am not. This does not either heighten or diminish my enjoyment of my ride, for that is not what my ride is about.

A little awkwardly worded, it is late and I had a killer trials ride this evening down in Seattle, and after the first week of school, so I'll leave it as it is and assume you can make sense of it...
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  • + 1
 I use Google My Tracks for mapping new trails and the topography when building new stuff. We don't have a huge scene here so its kind of nice. I'm also slow as shit and don't have anyone else to time myself against so I don't use KOTM. Smile
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  • + 3
 So far, there is nothing else available to help learn where new segments of single track that aren't shown on maps are. For this reason I love it.
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  • + 2
 i go on strava road rides with a mate, where we both go out and hit as many segments as we can just to push each other on everything - it just adds another dimension to training for us
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  • + 1
 I hate it for the fact that every eejit/goon can now see and ride the one-time-secret trails you spend months building.
It's also incredibly inaccurate allowing somone to rip down a fireroad adjacent to a forest trail and get the KOM on it for example
I'd prefer a world without Strava please
  • + 4
 How can everyone see your secret trails? Set your ride privacy to 'friends only' and don't create segments. Easy.
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  • + 3
 Learned something big today more than just riding my bike. First time to meet the term "Scientific Materialism". Its enlightening. Thank you Pinkbike.
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  • + 1
 Strava adds a new element to the sport of cycling. It is a valuable training tool for racers and rec riders alike. I don't think reckless riders and assholes are a new thing in cycling, and certainly not a direct result of using Strava. There were plenty of inconsiderate trail users out there before Strava came along. As riders we need to continue to promote proper trail etiquette and be good stewards of the sport. Strava is not going anywhere, and hating only brings the sport down.
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  • + 3
 strava is the best i use it on every ride. the only down side it that it is adictive
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  • + 1
 I know riders who are addicted to Strava and often go ride alone to get better averages. That's sad, specially on the mountain. I do use strava but only when riding places for the first time.
  • + 2
 What's sad about wanting to push yourself?
  • + 1
 @RideLucas, you mean it is sad when your friend can't go for another ride?
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  • + 1
 I will never use strava. I tried it once and hated it; it complicated my ride and I felt like I was loosing that peaceful connection with nature and bike that makes riding so special.
  • + 4
 >complicated my ride

What, by sitting in your bag the whole time and having to press 'start' at the beginning and 'finish' at the end?
  • + 0
 Ya, i dont even like looking at my phone while riding
  • + 1
 I agree, if a person has it on their bars or even pocket and are looking at it real time, they probably should go ride on the road, or a trainer, and monitor their stats intensely since thats so important to them. When I get to the trails, I usually do a couple things: get ready to ride, gear up, text my wife to say "ok starting now, back in 2.5 hours" and then hit the on button for Strava. It gets turned off once I'm back at the truck and getting ready to leave. It doesn't count non-moving time and as a mtb you only really care about certain segments anyway. If it affects your whole ride by having to watch it, youre doing it wrong.
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  • + 3
 Strava kinda turns riding your favorite trails into a game of mario kart on time trial. it's sweet.
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  • + 0
 Two types of riders
1. Those who want to ride and enjoy the beauty of nature.
2. Those who also like to ride and enjoy nature but only if they are pushing themselves to their limits.

I'm not enjoying a ride if I'm not giving 100% of my effort to have the run each time. Having to wait and give a tour on a ride feels like a waste of time when in my heart I want to be grinding out the entire trail without breaks.

Yes occasionally we have to give a tour and I also love getting people into cycling but no one here can say its fun to continue riding with other riders of lesser skill and continually having to wait for them. I find myself that I was part of that category at one point but since strava came along it pushes me to train and get results, in turn makes me better which is the ultimate goal. BE THE BEST RIDER YOU CAN!
  • + 0
 you are being sarcastic right?

Around here in UTARD land we often have xc riders that do not even respond to a friendly greeting on trail. One of my friends says that the increased accessibility of mountain biking has resulted in gym rats riding bikes for the sole purpose of getting workouts instead of a bunch of dudes and dudettes riding bikes for the flow of it. Strava feeds that mentality for some. The other day a friend of mine was riding downhill and some xc dudes were climbing yelling at people to get out of there way because they were trying to get a KOM. Frickin' spandex mafia go back on the road.

disclaimer: I use strava sometimes for fun to see where my times stand in relation to others so that I can can have some vague idea of how fast I'm riding and how far I have ridden. But, this BS of not having fun riding with slower riders is just sad.
  • - 1
 Nothin about what I said was sarcastic. Also nothing about what I said meant that I am a dick to people on the trails. On the contrary I am very nice to everyone I encounter on the trails.
Yes not everyone follows the rules and treats people poorly. You yourself sound like you suffer from this, just because guys are wearing Lycra does not mean they are some sub standard rider who only belongs on the road, those guys bust their ass more then anyone. Plus they are there to enjoy the trail just like you are bud.
Ever think they are yelling for you to get out of the way bc climbers always have the right away? Sounds like you're the dick. I know it's frustrating to be ripping a trail and come across someone climbing but it's part of the sport and if you think people should just enjoy it then realize that a lot of riders enjoy suffering up climbs and becoming a better athlete.
Strava is an awesome tool to get better and see what your
Body is capable of, it also is the responsibility of everyone that uses it to understand the risk of pushing your limits.
And I do enjoy riding with new riders, I invite new riders all the time let them use my equipment and never charge them anything. I even buy them a beer at the end. The more people the more fun it becomes, but understand that not every ride do I want to tour guide someone, especially when I get the most enjoyment from pushing myself to be a better rider.
  • + 2
 wow dude chill... nothing I said was meant to be a generalization to ALL xc riders. sorry if I offended you. I hope we don't ride together because I'm sure I would slow you down and detract from your ability to 100% enjoy your ride, as you stated, "I'm not enjoying a ride if I'm not giving 100% of my effort to have the run each time. Having to wait and give a tour on a ride feels like a waste of time when in my heart I want to be grinding out the entire trail without breaks. " That's too bad, I love to rip it up no stops fast and chill / ride slower as well...its all fun on bikes.

As for strava, there is nothing inherently wrong with it just a few bad apples that are consumed by it.

Oh well... be well and ride hard. Smile
  • + 1
 I'm not offended, I ride Just as much downhill as I do xc All I'm saying is if a guy is climbing give that dude the right away, coming down is a lot easier then going up. Whether he's sporting spandex or a full kit.
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  • + 2
 Soooooo guilty of pushing too hard because of Strava on a segment and a having jello legs the rest of my ride.
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  • + 1
 Want to know how fast you are... It's called racing...go to one and have the realization that you suck, you don't even need an a phone app.
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  • + 1
 Stopped using it since all the red flags on the best trails removed my KOM. specifically on rock it trail, rock garden in aliso woods, ca. flaggers die!!!!
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  • - 1
 Yet another great article from Ryan. Technology makes us faster and can make our riding experiences more vivid. But it creates extreme spotlight vision/perception. We start to isolate factors. Everytime I buy a new piece of equipment or start strava in order to race something or someone I have few bad rides that follow and I wondered why is it. I just start to focus on different things I tend to when I ride casualy. So far I have experienced two kinds of flow, two sorts of experiencing the ultimate present when I feel everything happens on it's own yet I control it effortlessly. One where I am real quick in relation to my own possibilities, and I don't remember much from those. It's a very spotlight kind of memory. Then the other kind when I remember moving effortlessly through the woods where peripheral vision is incredibly vivid. I experience and remember surroundings more than if I get off the bike and looked, yet I know I was looking at the trail in almost the same way as in first type. And these are my best rides ever. I tend to get such a strange connection with nature that I am super happy to touch tree bark with bare hand or walk the trail with bare feet. I even want to step into the mud, smell the loam. But it always happens when my mind is off the tech, when the geek sleeps, even slapping chain can't wake him up if I forgot to tyrn Shimano clutch on Smile

Having said above I think you can still get the "race flow" with Strava and be super satisfied with your ride as long as you control it.

Please more of that Ryan!
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  • + 3
 SODH = Strava Or It Didn't Happen!
  • + 2
 Dang, and here I thought I rode this evening.
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  • + 2
 Strava Users when they lose their KOM

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH6YqAMKxD4
  • + 1
 I love these
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  • + 2
 whats the best way to get strava to be accurate? lots of differences betwwen times...
  • + 1
 To make Strava accurate you should use a dedicated GPS and not your 'smartphone'. Garmin Edge 200 is a good choice. Reasonable price, but no heart rate can be paired with it.
  • + 2
 thanks!! (y)
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  • + 3
 strava made me dope....
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  • + 1
 Just got on strava to try and get more people to ride our trails....so far...none...
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  • + 2
 Steve that soooo lame - Ian Morrison
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  • + 1
 My friend and I use strava. And when we ride together he gets completely different readings than me. Why is that?
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  • + 1
 "I love stopping on a ride to enjoy a view" - fair enough... "Or to do some yoga" - WTF
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  • + 2
 Use RideWithGPS.com, for normal people.
  • + 1
 I agree with you on RideWithGPS.com. A great tool like Strava is. I have a dedicated GPS (Garmin Edge 500) and with the aid of these good GPS apps is a working thing. I ride my mountain bike to places I have never been before and won't get lost.
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  • + 1
 I strava my road commute to and from work, it's fun to push myself on the commuter bike but I don't use it on the mountain.
  • + 0
 watch out for those red lights,,,, BAmm
  • + 2
 Yeah red lights kill my time and speed! lol
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  • + 1
 Good for training, bad for enjoyment. When I use strava my mind is on the times and speed, not much else.
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  • + 1
 It's an incredible training aid, so much info recorded for you to figure out where to improve. Haters: ignore it in silence.
  • - 2
 i will not be silenced
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  • + 2
 I'm gonna develop COMMON SENSE App. I'm getting rich for sure!!
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  • - 1
 Fuck people who Strava down-low trails. Burn in hell and die die die. Comment does not refer to Ryan who is a good guy who knows better
  • + 1
 Without Strava, how would everyone's secret local gems get destroyed within a week of completion?
  • + 6
 i'm sure you're among those who ride trails that don't belong to you. we've all done it.
  • + 0
 Nah, I ride what I maintain/build or what people show me.
I do not Strava secret trails or poach.
  • + 2
 If you build on land you don't own you gotta expect others to ride it. I do mean ride, abuse or changing other peoples work is bang out of order clearly.
  • + 3
 wow lee...i hope you were able to sleep last night. Smile
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  • + 0
 im fast, faster than you....
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