This Will Be The Death Of Me

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!


16 thoughts on “This Will Be The Death Of Me

  1. You say it all when your headline is ‘notes from a recreational cyclist’. No good thinking about some of the youngsters. I was chuffed to bits to do a PB on a uphill segment at 11.6 mph to find that someone else had done the same at 26mph. Then I thought, ‘am I bothered.’ Not a bit. I did good. That’s ok by me. Enjoy, don’t leave your lungs at the roadside!

    • You might be amused to see who else is wandering about the hills of Langholm. If you pay a little money, you will be able to access leaderboards based on age and gender. I have no doubt you will be tops of those and many others for folks several decades younger than you!

      • We have a keen speedy cycling community round here and I am pretty sure that I would be the slowest unless Mrs Tootlepedal took to Strava too.

  2. Great post! I’m actually afraid to get on to Strava for the same reasons…I signed up once when I was bored, but never checked any of my usual rides or uploaded anything. Does it allow sorting into age-ranges, or levels of fitness? Or is it always just the light/skinny/young/lean who “win”?

    • Those sorts of boards exist but they come at a price. The free version just gives you overall standings. Rankings based on age/gender (along with other functionalities) can be purchased.

    • Oh, absolutely. I got my first one about two years ago. Very exciting. The best cycling application is that it is now extraordinarily hard for me to get lost. That alone makes it worth the investment!

  3. I actually have a couple of KOMs on a segment or two in the deep bush around here. It’s amazing how good it makes you feel, even if you are one of 3 riders who’ve climbed that hill! I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before ‘that email’ comes from Strava, though, telling me that a local segment hunter has taken away my glory. I’ll try and take it better than Hitler.

  4. I am on Strava, but not for the reasons most people are on it. I like to look at the maps of people’s rides– it gives me ideas for routes I can try. More #bikeDC people I know are on Strava than on Garmin Connect, and at the moment, I don’t have a Garmin and am using Strava on my smartphone (of which I am also a late adopter).

    I honestly did not discover the segment stuff until much later. I don’t need further confirmation that I am the slowest person out there, although I did have a brief QOM moment a while back that I admit made me feel good. It was quickly taken away from me. 🙂

    • The challenge with the smartphone is the app sucks battery life fast, so you need to be sure you’re fully charged when you head out. Still, I’m guessing any ride over three hours will be a challange.

      Congratulations on your QOM! I am certain I’ll never be at the top of any leader board that has more riders than just myself. 🙂

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