Sunday, 25 March 2012

Do you Strava?

The weather has felt more like June than March here in Toronto, which means vegetation is in full bloom, pollen season has come early, and the Morning Glory Cycling Club has hit the roads earlier than ever with huge participation numbers.  57 riders out at 5:40AM on March 22! 
After one of our early season rides, our Club President asked how many riders were on Strava.  A few hands went up, I'd heard about Strava but hadn't explored it as I already log my workouts through uploads to Garmin Connect, and log quants and qualitative data through the Slowtwitch Training Log.  His description of the site was 'Facebook for Cyclists'.  After confirming with a couple users that file uploads is super easy, I decided to check it out.
From the Strava website:  "Strava lets athletes all over the world experience social fitness—sharing, comparing and competing with each other's personal fitness data via mobile and online apps. Currently focused on the needs of avid cyclists and runners, Strava lets you track your rides and runs via your iPhone, Android or dedicated GPS device to analyze and quantify your performance. Strava makes fitness a social experience, providing motivation and camaraderie even if you’re exercising alone."
Why is Strava more fun than Garmin Connect or Training Peaks?
The social aspect of Strava makes it easy to compare your individual rides and overall mileage with your friends, your peers (locally or abroad) and with the wide range of professionals that upload data to the site. 
The app also gives you the ability to create 'segments' during your rides, which once created, the app goes into your GPS files and extracts those 'segments' from your ride data, essentially giving you lap data based on the segment drawn on a lap even if you didn't hit the lap button during your ride. 
The coolest aspect of segments is that even if you didn't create a segment during your ride, but someone else already has (or will in the future), your data for that segment is pulled and added to the all-time list, showing the KOM and QOM for the segment ('King of the Mountain' or 'Queen of the Mountain') and everyone ranked behind.  You can also toggle to only show your own performances, which allows quick and easy comparison of results of a familiar piece of road across each time you've logged that segment. 
Here's a link to the segment data for the Morning Glory Bridle Path route, our Thursday morning Criterium-style workout.  We typically ride this 5K loop five times each workout:

What if I don't have a GPS device?
Well apparently it works with an iPhone or Android phone, but seriously, if you don't have a GPS go get one - has super-cheap running ones and the Edge 500 is the best cycling computer I've ever had and isn't super expensive. 

Happy training!

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