Archives for posts with tag: strava

When I first started writing this blog one of my earliest posts was about a cycling app / website called Strava. Strava is an app / website that enables you to log all your rides and runs up to the cloud and then tracks your performance along “segments” (sub sections of your route) and ranks your ride on a leaderboard not only against yourself but against every other rider who has done that “segment” including your mates. I posed the question “Is Strava evil?” given the way it gamifies every ride – but the conclusion I reached was no. I use Strava to push myself, and encourage my mates to go smash it as well – all while maintaining an upright position on the bike. The top of a segment leaderboard is appointed the Segment KOM – King Of the Mountain, and in all my riding I have yet to achieve this feat. I have managed to squeeze into the top 10 several times and even jumped on the podium on one of my local routes, but never the KOM.

So visiting my folks on the weekend gave me an opportunity to bring my bike, go out for a ride on my old stomping grounds and see if I could not nab a KOM.

The first aim of my ride was not to get any Strava KOMs but get in a short and intense ride for an hour. I wanted to see what average speed I could hold on my new Shimano DuraAce 9000 C24 wheels. I have ridden a couple of hundred kilometers on them now and they really are a factor. Everyone writes in the forums about the performance advantage of lighter and stiffer wheels. What they also mention is the cost of lighter and stiffer wheels. This cost has to date been prohibitive for me to upgrade, until recently when I was forced to get new wheels as a result of 5 year old rear wheel failing with multiple stress factors around the spokes. But with 450 grams of weight shaved off the bike in all the right places and a stiffer construct, I find myself performing marginally better on the bike with the new setup. I will write up a detailed review later, but the new wheels rock.

To do this high(er – the pros would eat me up) speed ride, I mapped out a route I used to ride when I was younger and would use riding as part of my cross-training for other sports. The route doesn’t include any traffic lights, but it does include a number of short and sharp hills that in some cases get up to 8-9% gradient. It would be 3 laps of a 10km circuit. Best part is that there are no traffic lights on this route and it is mostly local roads so little traffic. On the first few warmup kms I was feeling good, and stretched the legs out a bit. I was consistently hitting 35-37kph (21.7-23mph) on the flats, so feeling quite good. Then I got to the hilly stuff and my speed dropped. I was targeting for a 30kph average for the ride, but that dropped when I hit the hills. I was going to have to lift it.

On the final section of the lap there is a long straight which, while undulating, has a total drop of around 30m in elevation. The best bit about this section of tarmac is that it has been freshly sealed and is quite smooth. As I approach the road, I saw that there was no traffic and I remembered that there was a Strava KOM on this segment that was worth a chase. I punched it! The segment is 1.1km long, so tough going to maintain full power. I put my head down and burned my legs up. I was a bit naughty when I realised that I had actually exceed the road speed limit and was maintaining that speed for over 600m. I got over the first bump followed by the second, and then put my head down for the final 300m. I was gone by that stage, but my momentum carried me past the segment finish. It wasn’t until I got back to my parent’s house and connected the Garmin into the computer to upload the ride that I realised I had just earned my first Strava KOM.

49.1kph (30mph) for 1.1km

I was chuffed! And the next nearest rider was a couple of kph slower. I fell just short of my 30kph average speed for the ride (at 29.9kph), but it was a good hitout. I got a second place on one of the segments too up a bugger of a climb that runs for 600m and gets up over 10% gradient. But my climbing still has to improve greatly. Now the gauntlet has been set on my KOM and others will chase, while I chase the KOM on that second placed climb.

I am feeling good in the saddle with the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo now only 46 days away. But I still have to get some solid riding in before then.

Strava isn’t evil anymore  🙂

 

 

I originally thought that the title of this post was going to be “Is My Garmin Evil?”, having only just purchased a Garmin Edge 800 GPS bicycle trip computer earlier this year. Previously I had a crappy old Trek trip computer that kept on losing the link to the cadence sensor. Finally it gave up the ghost and I splurged on a Garmin. It is not the most user friendly interface, and I was surprised how chunky it was when I got it. But what a cool little gadget! After finally figuring out how to configure my custom screens, and setting up a few bike profiles (I have three – ‘Road Steed’, ‘MTB Steed’, ‘MTB Steed + Potatoes’ i.e. Pok), it has brought a level of visibility and tracking to my rides that I never had before. At first it told me to stop eating the pies and pedal faster, but being able to track my routes (or not when the steed is locked into the indoor trainer) has been absolute gold dust.

My Garmin Edge 800

So after getting the device, I set up a Garmin Connect account and religiously logged every ride into the cloud. Even reviewed my rides on the player to great enjoyment – only to get blown away after reviewing a TT ride that Dave Zabriskie did in this year’s Tour of California.

But here is where the devil steps in. I was quite proud of my GPS purchase, feeling like I stepped up into the big leagues, so was talking a lot about it with my fellow cycling colleagues at work. That is when one of them – AC you know who you are – piped up and said “Your ride doesn’t exist unless it is on Strava!” The darkness started descending…

I replied “Strava? What is Strava? Can you spell that? What is the URL?” So now my interest was piqued, in a terrible way. I was busting to get home and jump on the net to check out this “Strava”. The devil now had me hook line and sinker. I created an account, and loved the fact that it called me an athlete. At this point I had no idea about segments and leaderboards, but I was a happy little cyclist. I uploaded my first ride – this year’s 40km Ride Around the Lake (www.ridearoundthelake.org.au) and was pretty chuffed that I was 3rd in my time after setting off in the last group and giving it a good belting. But as others started logging their rides I noticed I finished 5 out of 6. OK not so good.

So I thought to myself, ‘Surely there are routes that I could be the KOM on’. So off I went to discover how bad a rider I was. It is pretty disheartening to see yourself in the lower half of the leaderboard by a good 15km/hr slower than the top dogs on a route that you have belted out and is one of your local rides. Disheartening is an understatement, totally deflating is probably the more accurate description. But the evil that Strava plays on is the competitive nature of every cyclist – I gotta go faster and beat that time!

The good part of Strava is that it has motivated me. Motivated me to keep riding, upping the kilometres, and religiously tracking every one of my rides. The evil part is what it has done to my regular night training rides. I scope out my route, analyse the segments on Strava and then for a short 300-600m or so in the middle of my ride I try to go out and absolutely smash it. Just for a KOM. Of course the Strava trophies will keep piling up, and I get PRs, and my followers give me the kudos. But I reckon I am going to write myself off one day trying to get one of these KOMs.

There is a route around Canada Bay, commonly known as the Bay Run, which has numerous segments marked up on it. I targeted one segment in particular because it is a good indicator of how I am progressing -the N-S route along the Iron Cove duplication bridge. 400m of paved flat goodness. My first couple of feeble attempts were not well thought out, I was hitting the start of the segment at less than 30km/hr, no chance for a Top 10 let alone a KOM. But then I had an ingenious scheme. I had just finished the two day 200km Sydney Ride to Conquer Cancer (http://sy12.conquercancer.org.au/site/TR/Events/Sydney2012?px=1142452&pg=personal&fr_id=1070) the weekend previous – and after months of training with a pretty good hit-out on the ride, I had steel in my legs and bravado in my ride. To add to my scheming, I plotted a new route that dropped me in from the North on Victoria Road and allowed me to get up to 45km/hr at the start of the segment. I got on the route and absolutely buried myself as deep as I could go. I got to about 50m to go and ran out of steam but the momentum I had gained carried me fairly well in my mind at the time. I couldn’t wait to get home and connect up the Garmin to see if I had any success. This is the truly evil part – I rushed home, kicked my wife of the laptop, and plugged in the GPS into the USB slot…. Uploaded new rides… then boom 3rd place! Awesome, 3rd place! 50.3km/hr! Awesome! Quick let’s check out the Leaderboard in more detail – WHAT! The guy who was in first place clocked 100km/hr? How could this be? Is he the spawn of the devil? how could this be? He bettered the one other guy that was ahead of me by 48km/hr.

I was fuming.

I told my wife that this guy had to be a friend of the devil. How could he have possibly logged that fast a ride. He was faster than Cav, Griepel, Sagan, and Farrar all rolled into one. He was robbing me of a 2nd place.

At that point my wife, with the cold hard sense of someone who couldn’t give a sh!t about this website informed me “he must have left his GPS on his bike while he had it connected to his roof racks on his car.” My wife is not stupid. And with that she shook her head and left me in front of the website to suck eggs.

So is Strava evil? Maybe not, because it has motivated me to ride and train. The daily updates I get from all my cycling buddies get me fired up. But listen here Mr 100km/hr Speed Demon, I have you in my cross-hairs. Time to giddy up and spin a bit.

 

Lucifer: Father of Pok – go spend a week’s wages and buy a power meter.

 

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