The virtual world of Strava always struck me as a dangerous place. A place where people competed for the fastest times on arbitrary segments of road, sometimes at their own peril– or worse, by risking the safety of others.
Strava was a world for spirited, competitive roadies. Transportation and touring cyclists like me need not join. That suited me fine. My private Excel spreadsheet was all I needed.
I tried tracking my miles on a social fitness site years ago, and in the end it did not go well. I became competitive about my riding in terms of overall miles, and began needlessly comparing myself to others. Over time, I’ve reduced the time spent competing with others. Currently my primary competitor is myself, and more specifically, the me of yester year.
Last week, at the encouragement of Felkerino, I joined Strava to see what it was all about. He insisted that the Strava world had changed since its competitive roadie-centric beginnings. Those users were still there, but the community had grown to include a more casual and social scene, welcoming to all, even the transportation cycling set.
Felkerino gave me a Garmin last year, and finally toward the end of last year, I began tracking my running miles more diligently. I was surprised by what a good training tool it proved to be for running.
The Garmin helped me learn my average pace, and gave me more specific information about my runs. Now I also regularly use the Garmin to target a particular average speed because my Garmin has shown me that it’s pretty easy for me to space out when I run and unknowingly slow down.
Experiencing the benefits of seeing my running data laid out on the Garmin Connect site opened me up to joining Strava. Also, even though I do far less “training” when it comes to cycling, I became interested in recording my cycling miles, too.
I like the ease of synching my Garmin to Strava, and the option to record activity directly through the Strava app on my phone. I allow Strava to connect to my Instagram posts, and when I see my activity on Strava, my photo is inserted onto the map of my ride or run. It’s the little things.
You can give your ride a unique title, or just use the default “Morning Ride/Run,” “Afternoon Ride/Run,” or “Evening Ride/Run.”
My first recording on Strava was a 2.2-mile ride to coffee work. After I posted it, I received several unexpected “Kudos!” from other Strava members/friends. I had never heard of this kudos business. It seemed to me that the kudos threshold would be rides that, at minimum, reach double digits in overall mileage covered.
I’ve thought this through, though, and now I think rides to work deserve a lot of kudos. Maybe more kudos than a century ride. It’s not always easy to go to work, even when you like your job. Sometimes the urge to sleep in is strong, at least for some people. “Good job! You went to your job today!”
Reinforce good lifestyle habits with kudos. Stops at the grocery store, rides to the library to return your overdue library books, and trips to the doctor– also merit the kudos of your friends. “Way to take care of those teeth! Kudos!”
Felkerino is right. The site has broadened. I’m not sure how it expanded to include the recreational rider who isn’t that interested in speed or Kings of the Mountain placings on made-up ride segments, but it makes Strava a fun place to be. Several of our BikeDC friends use it, and it’s entertaining to see the creative titles they give to rides, or the comments they leave to describe an outing.
People will comment on whether they saw someone else riding at the same time they were out, and I’ve learned that you can view “flybys” to see who was riding in the same area at the same time you were. (I don’t know how to do this yet so if anyone wants to explain it to me I’d appreciate it!)
As a neophyte, I’m still learning many (most?) of Strava’s features. I am adjusting to how it displays my running and cycling activities and overall mileage totals for each. Currently my Excel spreadsheet is more easily understandable than the Strava display, but the spreadsheet doesn’t include other information I want to track like pace and route. I could add this data manually, but I prefer an automated system like Strava.
I don’t know how my relationship with Strava will evolve. Will I regress to competing with others? I don’t think so, otherwise I would not have joined it. This virtual world includes many real life friends so it feels more like a supportive, rather than competitive, environment.
Ultimately, I hope Strava helps me become more conscientious about my riding and running, and that it pushes me to try a little harder and to be a little more active. I also hope for many many kudos for those darn rides that transportation cyclists gotta do!