The best way to preserve your privacy is to not use an app such as Strava, but that’s an argument we’ve already dedicated time to (Strava good, Strava bad). If you are a Strava user, here are five things you should be doing to help protect both your personal safety, and that of the illegal singletrack you would never ride. Ever. Because that would be wrong.
1. Set up a privacy zone
If you’re lucky enough to have trails you can ride to from your front door, you could be giving criminals a digital map to your home or office if you don’t enable a privacy zone. This simple function will hide the portion of your activity that starts and ends in this zone from prying eyes.
It is important to note, that if your friends start their Strava ride within your privacy zone, that portion will NOT be hidden on their activity. So if you’re setting off for a group ride from your driveway, you should ask your friends to hold off for a few blocks.
Learn how to setup a Privacy Zone here.
2. Don’t inventory your gear
Strava allows you to inventory your gear to see just how many miles you rack up on each of your bikes. Not only does the feature enable you to name each of your bikes, but you can even include the brand, model, weight, and other notes. If you’re worried about security, it’s probably best not to enter too many details about your ride.
3. Manage your followers
Your followers on Strava can see both the start and end times of your riders, as well as your gear. Switching on the Enhanced Privacy mode will prevent non-followers from easily accessing that data by forcing them to request your approval before being able to follow you. This feature also prevents randoms from seeing your photos, activities, and more.
Please note that even if you are using the Enhanced Privacy Mode, you should still set up a Privacy Zone around your home.
Learn how to turn on the enhanced privacy setting here.
4. Set your ride to private
I live in Santa Cruz, which is a world famous mountain biking destination, yet the vast majority of trails here are illegal. Land management officials in this area and neighboring regions are now using data provided by Strava to document this illegal trail use. If you frequently ride illegal trails and can’t be persuaded to turn your GPS off altogether, then we highly suggest uploading those rides as Private Activities. You can also set up Strava to upload your rides as private by default. Afterward, you should consider joining IMBA, STC, or your local trail advocacy group.
5. Opt out of Strava Heatmap
The Strava heatmap is a feature that anonymously uploads all riding data onto a map. It allows you to see what areas are most frequently ridden, and if you dig a little deeper, is also an excellent way to find “secret trails.” I’ve used it for this purpose far more than I’ve ever used it to track my own rides. If you’re riding illegal trails or something that’s better kept a secret, you can opt out of having your data submitted to the Strava Heatmap by visiting here.
Did we miss any tips? Please let us know in the comments section below.