These days, it’s impossible to ignore data in the world of cycling. And as professional teams try to analyse almost everything with their data sets (knowledge = power), there are also various data sources available for us mere mortals to make our sport more interesting. Not only that, but the data we collect (once we learn how to interpret it), can give us new insights into our progression and achievements. So, it’s really helpful if you can have all that information in one place, and presented in an easily digestible form. And that’s when Strava comes in.
Strava basically logs all your on-bike data. By recording your rides with your smartphone, or another compatible device such as your Garmin bike computer, it’s really simple to keep track of the statistics generated by your cycling.
One clear display shows the map of your route, average speed, metres climbed, and the (estimated) number of calories that you’ve burned. If you also have a heart-rate and cadence sensors and/or a power metre, all that data is also included.
“KOMS & QOMs”
The social component of Strava comes into play once you’ve uploaded a ride. You can then allow others access to your logbook, and vice versa. There are also “segments”, or sections of the route, where riders can compare each other’s performance. You can pit your numbers over the same stretch of road against every other Strava user who has passed by. Once you know where the segments begin and end, you may find yourself highly motivated to do your utmost best and keep sprinting to the top of that hill, for example. If you are the fastest on a particular segment, you receive the honour of KOM/QOM (King/Queen of the Mountain). This also applies to flat segments, by the way.
Something for everyone
The Strava platform is really extensive, and specifically tailored to the social aspect of the sport. Everyone tries to achieved the coveted title of KOM or QOM. There are around 60,000 Strava users who have ridden the Alpe d’Huez segment, for example—one member of The Prologue team is in the top 500.
A large number of professional riders are also on Strava, and it’s interesting to compare yourself against the pros. The Alpe d’Huez KOM, for example, is French professional rider Thibaut Pinot. His record was achieved during the 2015 Tour de France.
But Strava isn’t just there to compare achievements. You can also create routes at home, save them, and ride them later. The app also has a bunch of graphs and tables based on your data to show you current level of fitness and tiredness. It’s also possible to share your live location with friends and family members, using the Beacon feature. They can then follow you live during a training session out of curiosity, or you can use this as an added security feature if your training time and/or location is high-risk.
Several of the aforementioned features are hidden behind a paywall, but the basic features are still really useful for those of us unwilling to pay a subscription fee. Not using Strava yet? It’s free to register, but be warned: before you know it you’ll be racing across local segments in pursuit of that most sought-after of prizes…