How many of these tell-tale symptoms do you exhibit?
Strava is great. Don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise. One could even go as far as to say that the ‘orange app of endurance’ has the power to transform any town, city or stretch of countryside into a cyclist’s playground. Just find a segment you like the look of, then start putting in the kilometres that are going to win you those KOMs.
For those new to cycling, it may very well be the case that you’ve nobody to ride with, or no idea how to train to get better – in which case access to Strava’s huge (and growing) user base opens up opportunities for betterment and competition that simply weren’t there before.
How did the guy who owns the KOM for the hill near your house train for his winning attempt? The QOM (Queen of the Mountain) on the sprint into town, how’d she get that fast? The answers are there to be gleaned from their Strava activity logs.
It’s not all about ‘racing’ for KOMs either, but improving your personal bests, getting an eye on what your riding buddies are doing, using Strava as a training diary, or just exploring segments to find new roads and routes to ride.
Of course, with every good thing, there comes a risk; the flip side of the coin, the grey lining to every silver cloud. Basically, because Strava is so great, it can also be addictive. Here’s how to diagnose if you think you may be suffering from a case of Stravaddiction…
You’re a member of a cycling club…
…but you’ve never met any of the other members.
Strava clubs are a great way for you to find more riders against which to test yourself. There are thousands of clubs on Strava – from tiny groups of mates, to well-established ‘real world’ cycling clubs. We’ve even got one.
You’ve lost your sense of perspective
What do you mean I just lost my KOM on the road outside a house I lived in three years ago? I must return at once and take it back or my week is ruined. Ruined, I tell you!
Strava can distort your impression of what’s really important in cycling. It’s not about one-upping others – if anything it’s about one-upping yourself, getting better and, above all, enjoying the ride. Strava, after all, is intended to help you perform better and train harder than you have before. It’s Italian for ‘strive’, don’t you know.
You’ll draft anyone and anything
Double-decker buses, parked cars, toddlers on tricycles, escaped livestock – you name it, someone chasing a Strava personal best has tried to draft it at some stage.
As well as segments, Strava incites us to train harder by laying down challenges.
Typically they involve riding a certain number of miles or climbing a certain number of feet within a given timeframe. Accept a challenge and it will become your life goal to complete it.
Take it from somebody who once rode around Queen’s Park in London (a virtually flat 1.4km loop) 32 times in one evening just to boost their distance stats. The struggle is real.
Your friends, flat mates and family members have become concerned
You used to have a healthy attitude to riding your bike, going out early on a Saturday or Sunday, getting home, having a shower and then getting on with life.
Now you spend the first twenty minutes after a ride standing transfixed in the hallway, phone in hand, still head-to-toe in lycra, reeking of your morning’s exertions. Or in stead of fixing a bite to eat or taking a shower, you can be found hunched over your computer in your sweat-soaked kit, Garmin plugged in and pouring over reams of data.
If a family member or flat mate should ask what exactly it is you’re doing, you’ll say “Oh, just analysing my ride on Strava.” As if it’s the most normal thing in the world. It isn’t. Seek help!
Your ego writes cheques that your body can’t cash
Strava’s ‘routes’ feature allows users to plan bike rides in advance. It’ll show you how many miles you’ll ride, how much climbing you’ll do in that time and the estimated riding time. It’s an incredible planning tool, but the downside is it can lead to you getting a little bit, well, over ambitious.
If you’ve ever planned yourself a meaty 200-mile loop and found yourself bonking at the 80-mile mark, you may have fallen prey to Stravaddiction. Be warned, distances look much more manageable on a computer screen than they are in real life!
You get ride rage
Remember when you stopped for a coffee just 10 miles into your ride, paused Strava but forgot to restart the timer and lost the last 80 miles of your ride? Or forgot to start the app or your computer in the first place? You numpty. After all, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen…
Only true Strava addicts know the pain associated with this. It’s indescribably annoying, especially if your phone or GPS malfunctioned and lost the ride data. After all, if it’s not on Strava then it didn’t happen and, to all intents and purposes, you’ve just wasted hours of your life. Often this leads to ‘ride rage’ and, ironically, the only known cure for ride rage is to go out again and turn that fury into some serious wattage.
You have neighbourhood rivals who you’ve never met
There’s a rider who lives somewhere near you and they have this infuriating habit of beating your best times on all the segments in the neighbourhood. One day you will find them and defeat them, but until then you will simply go on cursing their name every time it pops up in the leaderboards. Damn you ‘Sam Andrews’, damn you to Hades!
Earning your first KOM feels like one of the greatest achievements of your life
Earning a King or Queen of the Mountains title in no mean feat. In fact, as Strava has become more and more popular, with more and more ‘competitors’ on the road, it’s because downright tough to earn a KOM.
Which makes that first KOM notification all the more sweeter, particularly if it comes as a bolt out of the blue or, conversely, is a segment you’ve closely targeted for month. Rejoice!
You’ll be inconsolable after a losing a KOM
*Ping!* An e-mail lands in your inbox.
“Uh oh! A N Other just stole your KOM!”
The despair! There are only two ways to deal with losing a KOM. To fall onto a slippery slope of Strava-induced self-pity or, at the next available opportunity, bury yourself and smash the pedals with an immeasurable anger to regain your title. If that fails, then…
You feel KOM paranoia
There’s no way that guy/girl beat my time unassisted, they’ve got to have been using a moped to pace their effort. Either that or they’re using Digital EPO. It’s time to ‘flag’ their ride to the Strava police. KOM paranoia is usually followed by…
You make ethically dubious decisions
Hey, maybe I should be using a moto-pacer too. Seems like everybody else is. Technically I’d just be leveling the playing field, right?
You’ve started to experience kudos greed
Kudos is Strava’s equivalent of the Facebook ‘Like’ button. Giving your buddy kudos on a ride is like saying ‘Hey, well done’, or ‘My word, that’s a long ride’, or ‘Damn I’m jealous you got to cycle in the Alps/Vietnam/Tuscany’.
When you start off using Strava you’ll be generous, giving out your kudos willy-nilly to all and sundry. But after a while you’ll start to get self-important and a bit judgmental, only giving your orange thumb of approval for rides of truly epic proportions. Equally, you’ll also start getting annoyed when a ride you do doesn’t get the response you expect. You’ll begin to carefully craft your ride name in order to attract the most kudos and inflate it’s brutality.
“What? Only three kudos for a 200-miler with 10,000ft of elevation! The app must be broken.”
You’ll develop an unhealthy obsession with the weather forecast
A 30mph tailwind tonight? Time to have a crack at that KOM
You record every ride, no matter how small
We’ve all got that one mate who records every single one of their rides, from the daily commute, to their Sunday trip down to fetch the paper, to nipping out for a pint of milk. It’s annoying because it clogs up your feed and, inexplicably, they still get more kudos than you!
Maps will be redrawn according to Strava
In the pre-Strava age you’d remember your local cycling routes based on seeing landmarks, familiar towns and (lets be honest) pubs along the way, and using them as cues as to where to go next. Now, when you’re out riding you’ll remember the way because its part of a segment.
What used to be:
“We need to go left up here, it’ll take us past the Green Man. Lovely little pub, that.”
Has been replaced with:
“If we carry on for a couple more miles we’ll hit the start of ‘Ickenfield Road climb’, then it’s a left before we take on ‘Shuttleston sprint’.”
You become anti-social
Gone are the days of seeing a buddy out riding, stopping or slowing down to say hello and even riding along together for a while – once you get Strava it’s all about the segment. If you’ve ever seen somebody you know, then flown past them yelling “Can’t stop, Strava!”, then you definitely have a case of Stravaddiction.
Unfortunately there is no known cure for Stravaddiction. All you can do is keep riding harder and faster, become a Strava badass, eventually take all the local KOMs and then sit happily at home, praying that a professional race never comes to your part of town…
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