Sunday, 1 March 2015


Strava made me do it... Cut Gate in mild absurd conditions during the Festive 500.

How did this happen? How did I go from being someone who quietly loathed Strava to having two Festive 500 woven badges sat in my bespoke ceramic olive dish. How is it that I am now almost incapable of leaving the front door without hitting the little red button on the holy iPhone?

Back then, before Strava, I conceived of something called Stravanfreude, the vicarious delight in someone else's Strava misfortune: the KOM lost to a savage tailwind? Stravanfreude. Forgetting to switch your GPS on before setting off? Stravanfreude. Snapping your cranks on the Grindleford Goat? Actually that's something different again, let's call it Campagnogo...

But the thing is, I was wrong about Strava. Actually I was part wrong. I still think people who target particular segments rather than just riding are a little sad. And don't get me started on riding road bikes off road in search of KOMs. And letting a segment ruin a perfectly good ride just seems slightly tragic.

The Bonette - faithfully logged and shared.

But there are great things about it too: being able to watch what distant mates are doing in the benighted south for example. Or trailing around Aberdeen. Or, and this is how it started, where your girlfriend is riding as she meanders around the Alps in a camper van. Those things are brilliant.

As are some of the totally artificial challenges. Not because they are always particularly challenging - if you live in the Peak, for example, the climbing ones tend to be a little meh - but because on those special grim northern winter days, they're sometimes the tiny weight that tips the balance.

Which means, sometimes, unexpectedly brilliant or just plain daft rides, like a Festive 500 inspired crossing of Cut Gate in fresh snow last December, which had nothing much to do with riding, but everything to do with just being outside.

Strava weaponry - cross bikes are quick as off road. Which just underlines the nonsense of the whole thing...
And oddly I like the kudos thing. Real kudos that is, not the knee-jerk stuff. It's just kind of sweet when one of your mates notices you've done something half decent. It's like a little wave from a distant hill. Not essential, but sort of entertaining.

I'm not that fussed about KOMs, but when I do get the occasional top ten place, usually by mistake, it does make me smile.

Ahem that'd be the end of Flow Field Switch Bitch on a quasi-commute then.
Ultimately, Strava I suppose, like a lot of things, is moulded by the user. It's what you want it to be. A training tool. A social thing. A personal challenge. A spur to getting out there. Or maybe just a source of gentle curiosity.

So there you go. Not under my own name though. Either of them.