I think I first heard of Strava through my messenger friends. I’ve wanted to track my shifts, but I was afraid that it would drain the battery of my phone too quickly. You would not want this to happen, considering that the messenger’s cell phone is the essential fallback in case the walkie-talkie reception fails — due to range limitations, or when you’re inside a building. The first rides I tracked were therefore DH sessions at St. Cergue with Damien. Not very interesting. After I moved to Zürich, I got back into “normal” mountain biking, and got hooked to Strava for real. I like stats and maps, so I’m the perfect audience for that kind of fitness tracker. It has the somewhat negative effect that I can’t ride chill while tracking. I will always try to beat my times, which is admittedly a bit dumb. I’m not using the Premium version1, so I’m not exactly sure of the features that it would unlock. It seems however that there is such a thing as heatmaps. The Strava Labs also have a pretty experiment called Global Heatmap.
Heatmap of all my local rides
There’s this tool that connects to your Strava account and draws a heatmap of your rides. Pretty neat! What you can see next are all my rides around Zürich, from October 2014 to December 2016.
I do not plan my rides, I like to improvise, which resulted in me being stuck in the middle of nowhere more than once, always hoping to find a fun little trail. Of course I could actually have found all the interesting trails just by browsing maps and Strava, but I feel like that’s cheating, and the tiny feeling of adventure would get lost in the process.
I obviously also ride my bike elsewhere. For example, some of the locations not included on the heatmap are:
- all DH/freeride sessions: Chur, Lenzerheide, Chaumont, St. Cergue, Verbier, Portes du Soleil, Morgins, Zermatt, Davos, Plaine Morte
- San Francisco
- Lac de Joux
I spend an abnormal proportion of time during my rides trying to come up with a title for Strava. The rest of time is either spent on figuring out where the hell I am or why my body hurts. Either I’m out of breath, my legs burn or my back aches. All with no particular reason I can think of. I eat equally bad every day, I never drink anything during the effort… so all the conditions should be equally bad each time. Yet somehow sometimes I feel like shit and break PRs2, while other times I feel awesome and ride incredibly bad.
Here are some of the titles. Yes, some are borderline Dad joke level word plays:
- all that glitters is cold
- false hopes. I was hoping to find a new downhill section (the so-called “Harakiri” trail) then realized I already knew it. It’s crazy how a trail looks different when painfully hiking it up with the bike on your shoulders.
- kero-scenic. A tour with view on the Zürich airport.
- from the muddy banks of the Uetliberg. This and a muddy ride.
- flow as suck. Because I was slow as fuck, but the ride had a nice flow, so it kinda sucked.
- forbidden love. It was 10 days after surgery on my collarbone, and I’m not sure I was really allowed to go riding.
Stats so far
|2014 (3 months)||345.6 km||18 h 58 m||7’357 m||15|
|2015||1’437.2 km||90 h 55 m||44’252 m||52|
|2016||2’047.7 km||128 h 6 m||73’746 m||69|
There’s a steady increase. It would be nice if in 2017 I could get to 2’500 or even 3’000 km. But I’m not sure my right knee will agree.
Keep in mind that this is mostly mountain biking. A road biker’s stats would look a bit different, e.g. more distance. Note also that the distance and the elevation gain are not 100% accurate because on some DH sessions I let the tracking run the whole day, i.e. including lift rides.