Stra-vanity (part 1)

Fellow cyclists and Strava users, in case you were in any doubt, let me assure you. No-one really LOOKS at your Strava stats. They might look, but they don’t LOOK. They don’t really care.

Don’t be angry or offended by that fact, because you’re probably really interesting in real life, and that’s the bit that counts, right? And even if you aren’t, your personality probably still knocks spots off your stats.

I can’t be bothered with Strava as a social thing. I barely look at what anyone else is up to. When I do, it only inspires negative thoughts: “how the hell are they finding the time to do all that training”, “why aren’t they getting out and riding more, the lazy sods”, and my favourite, “hah! They still haven’t overtaken my 27th place on (insert favourite segment here…)”

Which brings me to ‘segments’; those timed sections of tarmac which are used to rank riders, and on which the entire appeal of Strava is based.

That’s an odd word, isn’t it?

Strava (Image: andikam via Flickr cc)

Pre Strava, a segment used to be a piece of an orange. As a description of a mouthful of fruit it does the job beautifully. As a measure of cycling it’s functional and unromantic, but what else can you use?

KOM (king of the mountain) doesn’t work either. As we Strava users know, the vast majority of timed-sections-of-tarmac (ok…segments) are random stretches of nondescript road that make the average motorway bridge look like a mountain. They are nothing that deserves the bestowing of royal status.

Most of them don’t deserve kudos.

And if you are now wondering why I’m using a word predominantly uttered by skaters and BMX’ers in a west coast Amercian drawl (like…kudos, duuude!) you are clearly not a Strava user.

Kudos is Strava’s version of clicking the ‘like’ button on someone’s bike ride. Until Strava appeared on the scene back in two-thousand–and-whatever, I’m reliably informed that the word kudos hadn’t been uttered by someone from the north of England since the late 1990’s, when a disorientated lad from Wigan monumentally mispronounced the word sudoku in the magazine aisle in WHSmiths.

And now we find ourselves routinely giving our mates kudos for every 50 mile Sunday club run and 3 mile Monday commute. At the very least, Strava could add some negative feedback emoticons to allow us to express our displeasure at our friends and their sluggish progress.

And yes, they are my friends, but most of them are definitely not ‘athletes’, as Strava insists on categorising us all. That’s just vanity. Or should that be Stra-vanity? I am no more an ‘athlete’ than Wayne Rooney is. I’m a plucky amateur, at best.

You would be forgiven for thinking I’m not a fan of Strava. You’d be wrong.

I think it’s ridiculous for all these reasons. But as a tool to log my own rides, view my routes, see where I got lost, and track my progress in a less-than-serious manner against the hotshots and also-rans in my local area, I love it. I’m happy to pore over my own Strava stats, I just don’t want to pour over anyone else’s.

Oh, and while we’re at it, you know that everything on Strava is wind assisted, don’t you? You know that there are apps available that factor in the wind direction and tell you which segments to attack? You know that the leader-boards and segments and kudos only mean something if we all rode the same bit of road at the same moment under the same laboratory conditions, don’t you?

Just as long as we’re clear.

Have fun.




  1. Now ask me why I’m not on STRAVA… Chuckle. Let’s just gloss over the fact that I’ve written a 2,000 page volume of my opinions and experience and published it… for free. Dammit.

    Oh, and I’m right with you on the whole “athletes” thing. I’m no athlete! I’m an estimator who rides a bike for fun an hour every evening, for God’s sake!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve actually looked at the stats of races that I’ve entered (viewing my friends on the same course), just to see what I’m up against, looking at where to hold back and which corners people attack out of. Also not all KOMs are wind assisted, at least most of mine aren’t (neither are they into a raging head wind). But there are a lot of lorry drafters out there doing 40mph uphill, that’s just not cricket.

    Liked by 1 person

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