Strava – The Social Stopwatch

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What is Strava?

We’ve been using Strava for over two years and have seen it spread across the map like some kind of virus with no known vaccine. In general terms, Strava is a gps mapping software that plots your bike gps data on a map and collects stats. What really makes it special though is the concept of segments. A segment is a user-generated, user-voted section of the ride that is measured from start to finish. A segment can be 10 feet or 10 miles long, climbing or descending. It is basically a start and a finish line where you are measured against yourself and against others. This is the secret sauce of Strava. Without segments, Strava is just another mapping application. But with segments, it is a new paradigm of riding where everything is measured on your ride.

And Strava does it without ever having to interrupt your ride. You start the gps or phone at the beginning of the ride and stop it at the end. But when you get home and upload your data, you are measured against every single ride you ever did. And you will be measured against every other Strava user in the world. And the Strava user base, your facebook friends, and your email subscribers will see if you shaved off that coveted one second to get the King of the Mountains… up your driveway.

Lea Davison and Strava

PRs and KOMs

If segments are the secret sauce of Strava, PRs and KOMs are the rewards.  PRs are personal records as every attempt of yours on a segment is kept. If you achieve your lowest time, your are awarded a PR Medal.  PRs are depicted by different color medals and anyone can and will get a PR since you are measured against yourself.

KOMs on the other hand are a whole different ballgame. A KOM or King of the Mountain measures all riders who’ve ever crossed a segment and the top 10 are awarded trophies.  The top dog is awarded a gold crown or KOM.  Segments with less that 5 riders are petty. But segments with hundreds or thousands of riders are legendary. Here is  the Old La Honda Climb in Woodside, CA.

If there is a competitive bone anywhere in your body, Strava can probably find it and harness it.

Is it a Verb Yet?

We will let others review the features and buttons on Strava. It keeps evolving for the better anyway. What we wanted to cover was the social impact of Strava. They say you’ve arrived in this internet space when you’ve become a verb. Strava is almost there but we’re not sure if the masses will ever catch on to using ‘strava’ in everyday language. Here’s some of the words we’ve observed though and some we propose:

Strava (verb) – to attempt to get PRs (personal records) or KOMs (overall records) on segments.
1. “Are you going to Strava Old La Honda this afternoon?”
2. “That dude must have been Strava-ing the Skeggs ride yesterday.”

Stravamail (noun) – these are the emails you get from Strava telling you that your friends are gods and are riding while you are stuck in a cubicle.  A particularly disturbing piece of mail is one that tells you that someone just stole your KOM.
1. “Honey, I’ll be home late or not at all. I just got Stravamail that my KOM was stolen and I have to get it back.”

Stravacide (noun) – to go out on an all out effort and take ridiculous risks to achieve the KOM on a segment.

Stravasshole (noun) – to run other trail users off the trail since one is strava-ing that ride. Some of these riders often yell ‘STRAVA’ as they want you to get out of the way. Right of way and riders needing assistance are often ignored by Stravassholes.

Stravacheat (noun) – these are special tricks that users employ to achieve KOM status.  Examples are taking a parallel and easier trail as part of a segment where Stava still thinks it’s part of a segment. Drafting, motorpacing, cutting the course are all parts of Stravacheats.

Stravaerror (noun) – Stravaerror is the inherent error in gps and cell phone devices where accuracy is off by +- 10 seconds
1. “Man, I had that KOM if not for that Stravaerror factor.”

PreStrava (noun) – This is the world before Strava. In this world, racers were slower. Secret rides and secret training was still secret.

Stravafail (noun) – Stravafail is when Strava fails you and does not record a segement time on your run. You cross the start line and finish line but for some inexplicable reason, it fails to register your KOM run as valid. Thus, all is lost.
1.”Yes, I ride with a Garmin 500, 800 and Iphone running Strava at all times to provide redundancy against Stravafail.”

Stravadork – (noun) – This is a rider who refuses to ride without Strava. In addition, all petty activities such as walking the dog, checking the mail, going 50 times around a pump track are all recorded.

Stravapoach – Stravapoach is posting illegal trail rides on Strava. It’s like the first rule of Fight Club, violated.

Strava Hunting – This is the act of riding purely for the purpose of finding and achieving as many KOMs as possible. This is a game for the opportunistic where effort must be conserved until the all-out attacks on the segments along the route.

What about you? Any suggestions? How has Strava changed your riding?

Post a review on the Strava App HERE.

About Strava

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Jordan SMoke says:

    Stravaslaughter- the act of killing another while trying to KOM something

  • Sebastian says:

    Stravastalk….stalking all those whos kom’s you cherish

  • Smithers says:

    Stravacid- dying while attempting a KOM

  • Francis says:

    Stravatard. Don’t know what it means yet.

  • Francis says:


  • bryan says:

    Stravassholes, lol, that kills me. Unfortunately I run into them all the time, even before there was strava.

  • James says:

    Thousands of users will attest that using their strava app enables them to strive for better times and therefore indirectly encourages them to go faster than is safe. I worry about this on our local trails used by hikers and mtbers. I’m going to delete strava from my phone for this reason. Its odd, I don’t think Strava app should be held to blame, but I don’t think the strava app should be allowed since it will cause problems like this in the future.

    Yes, personal responsibility should always be taken. But we know Strava won’t always be used safely. The bigger problem will come when a DHer trying to beat his friends time comes around a blind corner and kills a 5 year old hiking with his family. It will be a sad day for mountain biking. In this situation racing is taking place on a public hiking trail without warning to hikers. Yes, the MTBer is at fault for hitting the kid and going too fast and racing. But little good this will do for the dead kid.

    We should save racing for closed courses and keep up the positive image mountain biking is gaining so we don’t risk losing trail access and gaining bad karma.

    One solution I thought of is to limit Strava speeds to X (13,14,15? mph). ANY average speed over X would not be displayed in KOM rankings. Second would be for Strava to not allow downhill segments at all.

    Ultimately, you can’t outlaw a stopwatch. But Strava is a gray area because its hosting a race on each segment.

    We MTBers as a community should reject the use of Strava for unsafe racing and discourage our fellow riders from attempting unsafe speeds on public trails.

    – Recovering Strava Addict

    Stravanonamous anyone?

  • Stravaculation says:

    *MTB segments with gates that can be locked.
    * Segments that start or end in your bedroom….unless the Mrs likes a visit.
    * Ending segments on Rds or Trails that don’t naturally flow or route in that direction, only for the purpose of ‘preserving” an undeserved KOM until someone gets smart to it.
    * Trash talking to riders you don’t know and have never ridden with about taking their KOMs.
    * Thinking that a multi-page KOM list will compensate for your small stumpy.
    * If you get bent when someone steals your KOM and act as if they did nasty things to your girl and wiped themselves off on your drapes.
    * You create a segment, and when you’ve found that your aren’t the KOM/QOM, you then delete it.
    * You adjust the Start and End of segment so you can maximize your position on the ranking.
    * Think you’re as good as a pro, when you take one of their segments.
    * You think that a Strava KOM list will lead to sponsorship.
    * You overstate bike/equipment and your own body weight to juice the very suspect Strava wattage calcs.
    *Feel that strava will help you over come being a loser in other aspects of your life.

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