Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Strava Blues

Just another reason to slow down on a ride.

As many of you already know, I am somewhat of a luddite when it comes to technology. My natural tendency is to resist anything new that is overwhelmingly more complicated than practical. However, once convinced to give this new stuff a try, I am usually completely sold on it and wonder why I lived so long with out. Just for chuckles, some of the things that I resisted that have made huge changes in my life are: tubeless tires, disc brakes, computers and cell phones.

This past winter, I updated my heart rate monitor to a Garmin Edge. This piece of technology was long overdue and been something I had been resisting. When my man gave me one for Christmas, I happily accepted. As soon as I got it up and running, I realized it worked great and I was able to download data for more accurate records. Many people told me to try Strava. I found it so easy to use, even for a luddite like myself. After a few weeks, and still somewhat na├»ve, I started noticing little crown and medal icons popping up and thought what is this all about? … and there you go, the Strava hooks were placed into another rider.

So, I don’t think I ever became obsessed, but after 20 years of racing, a little Strava motivation was a welcome training tool to get me through the winter. However, one thing I did notice is that when trying to challenge a segment, many other things would get in the way. First there was snow and ice in the trail, then blown down trees across the trail, or a flat tire, social group stopping, giving directions to a lost hiker, stopping for wildlife. The list could go on, but why bother. I think you get the idea. Nearly every ride with Art somehow turns into trail maintenance, whether I like it or not. It’s part of what we do as being Stewards to both the park and Jorba.

I suppose Strava and I are not a perfect fit. At first, I thought I was a bit too easily distracted with my riding to concentrate on my Strava goals. Then I thought a little deeper, and decided that a cyclist or mountain biker probably should not be too distracted by Strava while out riding. You can call it priorities, but I call it common sense.

I’ll admit that the whole concept and technology behind Stava is pretty amazing. You can create and share routes, make goals and create world wide competition. However, I can see how some could loose track of reality. I plan to use it as training tool when it is appropriate, but I hope to not let it run all my rides. There is more to riding than what can be interpreted electronically. I still like the happy little surprises that pop up when I get home, letting me know that I am indeed still a big deal to somebody, even it is just because I am out riding a bike.

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