So you’ve got a bike, you like riding it, you enjoy improving around your local trails, how do you track your improvement? Well, download Strava and track your next few rides.
Strava? Isn’t that the app the strange guy at the office uses? Yeah, the guy at the office who tells everyone he’s a vegan and dries his lycra shorts in the shared kitchen, he’s definitely on Strava.
Strava isn’t just for the roadies though. Most of the trail centres in the UK have some great Strava sections, which allows you to compete against all of the other MTB based Strava users who have ridden those sections. Strava also allows you to record your ride, and will time you over the whole thing, so if you have a favourite trail, or a specific ride you do regularly, record it on Strava and watch your times improve.
Not only does Strava record your times over each user created section, and total moving time, it logs speed and elevation data, so not only can you watch your over all times improve, you can look at the graphs and see that where your improvements are coming. This lets you focus for your next ride, maybe you can nail those downhill sections, but the jump sections slow you down too much? Focus on that next ride. Maybe its the hills?
I’m not saying you should use Strava on every single ride you ever go on. But its good to see improvement over time. Its also great to see how you compare to other riders out there. I like to use Strava if I ride somewhere new, the times down sections show me how I stack up against others. That, in turn, shows me wether my improvements around my local trails are genuine, or just superficial knowledge of the trial, surface etc.
Strava has some other really handy features, like it can track your heart rate when you connect it to a heart rate monitor, such as the one in my Apple Watch. A handy tip for Apple Watch users: Starva has a watch specific app, which lets you leave your phone at home, great for people like me who fall off and run the risk of breaking their smart phone.
Strava is a free app, with a premium service on offer. Everything I have talked about here is available on the free app. The premium service offers power zone and heart rate zone logging, and some training features – I can’t comment because I only use the free service.
There are loads of features that I’m still learning. Like last week I discovered that you can create a group for all of your friends to join so you can get super competitive against them all. You can also create your own sections, I can’t say much about this because I don’t use it, but my experience is that its really easy to use, and is useful if you are a trail builder, or want to track yourself on your ride home from work.
I’ve found that both the Iphone app and the Watch app are really user friendly. They’ve got big orange buttons to press to start, stop and pause your ride or run, and a big obvious chequered flag to end it. The only issues I have encountered are when signal is low or 3G/4G is slow, you complete your ride, press save, jump in the car to head home and next thing you know you’ve got 30 K.O.M’s because Strava has recorded half of your drive. This doesn’t happen often, I think I’ve managed it 2 or 3 times in the 9 months I’ve been using the app.
Well now the only thing left is for you to get on and get recording some rides! Who knows, maybe we will be competing for times soon!