The email that came in from Chris Milliman was pretty benign: “Keller, I think you should have a look at this new product. Heard of it? Strava.com. Check it out!” So I blame him for my newfound addiction…
Strava is crack. It is addictive on many levels but I’ll get to that in a minute. What is Strava? It’s your ride ‘repository’ done right. We’ve all seen and likely used various web-based tools (does anyone use desktop-installed products any more?) that offer unbelievable amounts of data and features. As a software professional…and a data geek at heart…they are pretty impressive in fact. And these tools, when understood and leveraged correctly, help us become better cyclists. Providing and presenting the data in ways to easily demonstrate your strengths, weaknesses…your progressions and volume.
But for me, riding and my cycling life in general is social. It’s what my buds and I do. And that is what Strava is. It was a product built by cyclists to be social ‘from the ground up.’ It’s about you and your performances and achievements which can be mapped to others who’ve ridden over the same turf. Some of the highlights I find fun to use in Strava:
Training’s hard enough as it is. And rarely do you get a back pat from anyone…save your dog who likes to lick the salt of your sweat from you when you return from your ride. But Strava catalogues all of your rides and will tell you how you’ve improved over the sections you care about…like that problematic steep section at the top of your local climb. The gamification they’ve added is thoughtful and truly gets you going harder to ‘get the prize’ when you return home and upload your workout.
Creating Segments and Rider Comparisons:
Mapping your whole ride and getting total distance is one thing, but what about that section from ‘the old cottonwood tree to the town limit sign’? In Strava-speak, that’s called a segment and you can create as many of them as you want and share them with the Strava community. Moreover, how did you compare against a buddy of yours on that sprint or climb….even if he did it last week…or last year? below shows Strava’s simple to use interface for comparing riders on segments. You can see the orange marker (me) on the map and on the elevation chart and the blue dot (the segment record holder) and how he drops my ass. Now you have animated EVIDENCE on how you erased your friends on that climb on your Saturday AM group ride. Awesome.
Followers/Following and Privacy:
For those of you kids who are on The Facebook or use that tweet thing, you’ll understand the importance of privacy. And Strava enables you to ensure you are as open…or as private…as you want to be. Approve those you want following you, mark rides private or share as you see fit.
Bloggers Rejoice! Embeddeable Rides:
The Strava platform enables bloggers or websites in general to add in interactive objects like you see below to keep viewers on your site:
All of this adds up to quite a fun and compulsive to use product. You can’t help but find yourself filtering through your data, organizing and adding comments about your rides. Keeping it all nice and tidy as it’s easy to organize. Voyeuristically, you’ll find yourself using the comparison features to see you versus your friends…and the work you need to do to get faster! It’s addictive. Be careful.