I friend of mine recently sent me a funny video. She knows I’m into cycling (the fact that I represent the cycling community to a large number of people says as much about the state of cycling in Northern Virginia as it does about my abilities) and she thought I’d get a kick out of it. The video is that classic scene from the movie, Downfall, when Adolf Hitler goes on a rant. The video’s author’s have removed the actual subtitles and put a humorous diatribe about Strava in its place.
This got me to thinking, as an extremely important member of the cycling community, perhaps I should be more into Strava.
For the handful of you who are not familiar with Strava, it is a social media site that allows athletes to upload their GPS data and share this other members. It’s very popular and has been around for a few years. Naturally, I am one of the last people to consider adopting this. Being the last to get new technology is kind of my move – whether it be converting from 8-Tracks to cassettes, VHS to DVD, or getting a smartphone, I’m generally the last guy around to pick up a new gizmo. Why should Strava be any different?
In addition to the ability to share ride information with friends, Strava has an added (and insidious) feature – it allows riders to compare their performances on certain stretches of road which Strava calls “segments.” You can see how your performance on a ride you just uploaded compares to everyone else who has traveled that same stretch of road.
And then you can immediately regret your decision.
Once you see how dismal your performance is against everyone else who has ever traveled a particular segment, you realize you weren’t pushing yourself. For example, when I stopped on my New Year’s ride to take a picture of a church, that caused me to fall to the very bottom of the all time ridership for that segment.
I tell myself its ok because I stopped for the pictures and a quick drink. I tell myself that I wasn’t pushing myself to begin with and was only out for a pleasant ride. I remind myself that many of these riders were undoubted many years younger than me. I quickly inform myself that comparing a ride in the dead of winter with times which were posted during the summer months is not appropriate. Despite all of this helpful information I provide myself, I nevertheless resolve to push myself harder and rectify this embarrassing situation.
Now, some will argue that all of this is a good thing. After all, pushing yourself is how you improve and improvement is healthy, especially when it means better physical fitness. I can’t really argue with that, except to say that not every ride should be a time trial and if you become emotionally invested in these little leaderboards, you may lose yourself in chasing them. Just ask Adolf Hitler.
I’m pretty sure I’ll keep loading my rides into Strava, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep myself under control. But if I one day stop posting, it will probably be due to the fact I blew out a lung while pushing my heart rate to 110% during a sprint on a Strava segment.
Here’s the video. I hope it gives you a chuckle or two!