Strava Cycling Review 2017
This past month I went all in for cycling and started a Tour de France challege (23 days of cycling). Tour de France was in full swing, Lance Armstrong launched his FB Live Stages Podcast (https://www.facebook.com/lancearmstrong/) and I had been bitten by the cyclist bug.
During that time people kept mentioning an app called Strava.
I knew Strava had something to do with working out and cycling, but I wasn’t quite sure what exactly it did. I assumed it would be similar to my Garmin Connect software, but I wasn’t quite sure.
STRAVA CYCLING APPLICATION REVIEW 2017
Strava is the Swedish word for “strive,” which is the motto for the Strava application and the company. In essence Strava is a social network for athletes that gives you the ability to follow, compete, give thumbs up (Kudos), comment on and even trash talk other athletes (Your Friends).
It allows you to see who has run, cycled or swam a course that you have done and allows you to compete against them for time and glory.
TRACK AND ANALYZE
Strava turns every iPhone and Android into a sophisticated running and cycling computer allowing you to download your workout activity and then review performance stats and dive deep into your data.
If you own a Garmin, Wahoo or Polar device, Strava works with those too, allowing you to record cool stuff like heart rate, elevation and watts.
I own the Garmin 920XT watch and Garmin Edge Explore 820 Cycling Computer, so after a run or cycling workout, the information automatically uploads to my Garmin application and since it is sync with my Strava account it uploads to there too.
Below is an example of a run workout I did. My goal for the workout was to start off with a mile warmup, then crank out a 6:30 mile, recover for around 6 minutes and then do another fast session and finally finish with a cooldown.
As you can see there are a ton of Strava data screens for you to play around with.
When you swim, cycle or run a pre-recorded Strava route, you can gain glory by swimming, running or cycling faster than a previous time or by out performing others on the same course.
Matched Routes lets athletes benchmark themselves against past performances on their most common, personalized running routes.
Cycle or Run the same route, loop, or out-and-back multiple times and Strava will group all the efforts together in a single chart to show you a performance trend over time.
Workouts are automatically grouped together and there is no limit to the number of times a single route can be recorded and analyzed. Your matched workouts and past performances are visible only to you for privacy reasons.
Obviously having access to past performances is a huge asset for motivation and improvement. With that said, don’t expect to have a lot of PRs in the middle of the Summer when the heat is ratchet up.
STRAVA LIVE SEGMENTS
One of the really cool features Strava has built is something called Live Segments. Segments are one of Strava’s neatest and probably most used feature. They are member-created and edited portions of road or trail where athletes can compete for time. Thanks to integration with Strava, many of the new cycling computers display segment information allowing you to race against yourself and others who have completed the segments.
There are a few types of segments found on Strava:
- Climbs: climbing segments (for cyclists) are automatically categorized HC, 1, 2, 3 or 4, like you see in the Tour de France. (See more info on how strava categories climb segments.
- Descents: Any segment that descents on negative grade for some distance.
- Time Trials: Any segment that goes over varied terrain and that is greater than a mile.
- Loops/Laps: Segments that have similar start and endpoints.
After a ride or run you can see how well you performed on a course based on your own record and others who have been on the same course. Each segment will contain stuff like
By recording all the segment information, Strava provides results and previous efforts, allowing comparison with others who have completed the segments. This is where bragging rights and trash talk come in. If you beat others on a segment or a previous best, Strava will display various trophies like PR, fast time and so on.
Live Segments provide real time feedback when you are actually riding or running a segment. Rather than waiting to get back to upload your data and review it, Live Segments allows your cycling device to display in real time how you are performing. That to me is wicked cool because you can then race against yourself or others.
In order to use Live Segments you will need to purchase a Premium Strava membership, but with that you will be able to create and edit segments.
Strava has a working relationship with many of the top named GPS companies to interact with the Live Segments data.
- Edge 510
- Edge 520
- Edge 810
- Edge 820
- Edge 1000
- Fenix 5
- Forerunner 735XT
- Micro C GPS
- Micro GPS
- Macro GPS
- Mini GPS
- Micro C GPS Watch
- Micro GPS Watch
- Super GPS
- Cyclo 310
- Cyclo 315 HC
- Cyclo 315
- Cyclo 500
- Cyclo 505
- Cyclo 505 HC
- Polar M460
- Sigma Rox 7.0
- Sigma Rox 11.0
CONNECT WITH FRIENDS
After uploading a workout to Strava, your workout becomes part of your Strava feed, allowing your friends and followers to give kudos to your workout or race and leave comments. You can think of Strava in some sense as a Facebook for Athletes, allowing you to follow and friend other Strava users.
The above is a cycling group ride I did with a bunch of people starting at Mellow Johnny’s. If the people you are riding with are also Strava users, they will show up as being part of the ride (Assuming they are recording their workout). This gives you and easy way to friend or follow them once you get back home.
The Strava Flybys screen gives you a bit more information about the people that were possibly with you. There are 4 columns represented by a Flyby Checkmark, C (Correlation), S (Special Correlation) and D (Distance). In general if the C column is over 30% that person was most likely with your group and is usually an easy indicator.
|Flyby||A (✓) means that this activity was a flyby with the primary activity. This means that the activity was within 50 meters of you at some point, and did not ride with you for an extended period of time (has a low correlation).|
|Correlation||Percentage of time that this activity was close to the primary activity. Correlations over 30% are considered group activity matches in Strava.|
|Spatial Correlation||Time independent similarity of activity to the primary activity. An activity travelling the same course will have a high spatial correlation regardless of the speed or start time of the activity.|
|Distance||Total distance of each activity in miles.|
I have used the Flyby screen to help find people that I thought rode with me and friend them.
CHALLENGES AND CLUBS
Once you join the Strava community you can participate in all sorts of Challenges and join clubs to keep you motivated and on track.
THE WORLD’s LARGEST ROUTE AND TRAIL RESOURCE
One killer aspect of Strava is all the route information. If you have ever wanted to try a new cycling or running route, simply log into Strava and find an athlete in your area and view some of the routes they train on or simply look at some of the guided routes.
If you have a smart device that records your workouts, the Strava App (https://www.strava.com) is definitely something to checkout. Strava is available as an app for your phone and on the web. If you own a Garmin, Wahoo or Polar device, you need to connect your Strava account to them sync the data.
Currently there are two versions of the Strava application. A Free version, which has a ton of great features and a Premium version, which of course gives you many more features.
The Premium version is $7.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
Using the Free version or paying for the Premium is really boils down to usage. The Free version is certainly packed with features, so that might be all you need. For those wanting all the bells and whistles, $59.99 a year isn’t a huge expense.