Strava….. Friend or Foe?

The tabloids often go Strava bashing, i.e. writing negative articles about how us cyclists are putting ourselves and others in danger by K.O.M (king of the mountain) chasing…. and we get all indignant about it…… Should we?

They use Strava as the big bad wolf even though there are many similar websites… Ridewithgps, Endomondo, even Garmin now have their own version. It’s just Strava is by far the most used so that’s the one that gets written about.

I use Strava to track my mileage, design new routes etc. Do I sometimes enlarge the map as big as possible so I can work exactly where a segment starts and ends so I can do a flying start through the segment then stop pedaling a metre after it ends? Might do…..

Have the tabloids got a point though? To a certain extent they have…..

If there was website where motorists could do battle via virtual time trials along public roads… then the police would have a field day slapping disclosure orders on the website so they could prosecute the drivers….. However because there is no law as such against speeding on a bike then the police can’t do a thing, I do love the fact though that I can legally go faster than a car in a 30 limit (whether I can actually pedal faster than 30 in a 30 limit is another matter though.) Contrary to popular belief there is no current ‘furious pedaling’ law (unless you know better….) that could be used against a speeding cyclist…. I’m sure some type of law exists to prosecute dangerous cyclists but not a specific speeding law. Perhaps the lack of laws against cyclists is what pisses motoring journalist off.

Should we though, belt through segments trying to beat persons unknown by a gnats arse, then wave our arms Tour-de-France-yellow-jersey-style….? YES……OF COURSE and err….. no.

On a single carriageway ‘A’ road or a nice twisty country road with a bit of a climb in it, then yes we should, its all part and parcel of why we enjoy cycling, but I will mention two segments near me… One is a mile long shared cycle path/footbridge (with a Non compulsory ‘cyclist dismount’ sign for the last 20 metres where it narrows….. ) I held it for a few weeks at an average speed of 24 mph but that has now been raised by a ‘serious contender’ to over 30 mph, a totally ridiculous speed for the route, I ride it now at a more sedate 10 mph but I still have to shout for people to get out of the cycle-path bit…..and then there’s the moral question of riding at 30 mph through a bit where they asked you to get off and walk… I do ride that bit but I give way to pedestrians to be polite.

Another segment near me includes two sets of lights and a roundabout…. Common sense to me says leave it alone……..As a responsible cyclist I know that……You stop (no exceptions) for red lights and at roundabouts if required.

So Strava (and similar) should be used to keep tabs on the distance you ride for bragging rights down the pub, to pace yourself – there’s no harm in trying to beat yourself…..turning your commute into an interval training exercise (that’s how we get fitter and faster) and to throw down the gauntlet to other people where it’s safe to do so…. as if saying ‘come and have a go if you think you’re fast enough…..’

What it shouldn’t be used for is to give cyclists a bad name by belting through totally inappropriate segments shooting red lights and running over pedestrians on shared paths… that could at the very least lead to road rage and at worst a free trip to the hospital…..

Strava will remove any segments that are flagged up as unsafe, but I bet they get very few requests as it would seem like sour grapes for unsuccessful K.O.M attempts, but I feel we should report Segments that either require a lucky streak through lights or include narrow shared paths…..

Used correctly Strava is a fantastic tool for athletes (both cyclists and runners), used incorrectly it encourages ill feeling towards cyclists and adds unneeded danger to our excellent hobby/sport (delete as appropriate)

Now where’s that Garmin……..