Tracking My Progress with Strava
My background in marketing and sales management have been specifically highlighted with my love of analytics, report running and data mining. I love theories, graphs and making decisions by gut and knowledge. (More gut than knowledge.)
Now, I don’t go as extreme with numbers around training as I do with marketing and sales..but it’s close. Normally I’m NOT tracking every movement, gear usage and PSI of tires or suspension pressure on EVERY ride. (I have my moments when I go through that cycle, mostly when I have a new bike to dial in.) For the past few years I’ve used Training Peaks for my HRM or in years past my power device, a Power Tap about 10 years ago. In roughly 2006 the invention of the Garmin GPS training unit for bicycling opened my eyes to what you can learn from data. From the ascents, decents, temperature and such, over laid with your speed, cadence and possibly power. You really turn yourself into a machine!
Welcome Strava, social media for bike rides
Two years ago I first heard of Strava. I didn’t really get it, another site to track your GPS files. They had put a bunch of pro’s on the site, and I feel like there was only a paid version when it first started. In the beginning of the year when I purchased my new Garmin Edge 800 I started uploading some files to Strava when I remembered. It was cool as it tracked my data, and also compared it to my friends.
Strava Segments are Virtual Group Rides
I ride my bike alone most of the time. My job makes my ride hours vary, and I don’t like the extra stress of having set rides too often with groups. Two months ago Strava started the coolest things called segments. Basically it overlays your GPS file with set parts of trails, roads, or whatever to show how you compare to other Strava users on that section. Some examples are from the base of a climb to the top, or a full loop of a specific trail system.
It really excites me to try different places, or when I visit new places to do rides around these segments I can find on Strava.com. Comparing myself to others that have done that ride, climb, descent or loop. You can also make your own segments to see how you are improving. If you have a loop that you use for recovery, or maybe for testing purposes – this is a great function.
Ease of Use and Design
Strava has done a few things very cool and user friendly with their design.
Uploading is super simple. The first time you click Upload Activity it asks to download this sync thing. You don’t ever have to open it again, everytime you go to upload it finds your Garmin and all activity you haven’t uploaded this far.
No software needed. As noted above it downloads (what I think is a cookie) the first time you try to upload. I am able to upload from my laptop and desktop, not needing to open any software other than the internet browser I already use.
Stats and Activities are clean. Rides, performance, averages and such are easy to find on your profile. It also will compare you to someone else when you click on their profile.
Strava on your iPhone or Android
Strava functions mostly off Garmin but they have really great phone apps that will track and upload straight from it! This is an easy way to get into the social group ride without plunking down on a Garmin.
This is super handy also as every once in a blue moon I’ll forget my Garmin or forget to charge it. I don’t miss tracking a ride when this happens!
Other notes of Strava
Follow me on Strava!
I recently upgraded to Premium mainly as I’ll be adding a Powertap to my arsenal soon, the site has a great Powertap analysis and keeper of data for later use.
You can also do all of the above for running as well! Pretty handy for triathletes or runners that want to get social with their runs!
I wasn’t paid or even asked to write this by Strava. Simply really digging the design and use of the site!
Strava Awesomeness: GPX Download Functionality
If you are a contant reader you will know my love of Strava. It keeps me motivated, up to date with my friends rides across the world and technology makes my world go around.
When I visit new places (which is weekly) I’m always trying to find new rides, routes and cue sheets. Using a split of Google, Garmin Connect and Map my Ride I’ve been doing okay. But now, Strava is allowing me download peoples routes to upload into my Garmin! I can dominate QOM’s all day long now.
Spring is Here, Are You Ready?
It is hard to believe that we are in the last week of April and May is knocking on our door. I don’t know about you, but other than #30daysofbiking I haven’t done much in off-season pedaling to be ready for the long miles this season. In order to stir up some internal motivation, here are some tips to jump start your spring cycling.
Tech Tuesday: Keeping Your Bike Out of the Shop
This is the time of year that all you want to do is ride your bike, not take it in for maintenance. One of my favorite things I would tell good clients was to ride the bike to the shop for a quick check over. Make it part of a monthly or quarterly event. As long as there isn’t anything rattling or falling off you’ll be able to ride there, tell them exactly what might be acting different since you JUST rode it, example “the rear is shifting slow going to easier gears” or “my crank clicks going up hill.” It also makes it so the shop understands you don’t want to leave your bike there. *Normally calling a head and making sure your favorite mechanic is okay with this would be recommended, along with bringing their favorite 6 pack.*
Fastest wearing items on a bike:
- Bar tape/grips
- Seals on suspension (fork and shock)
Using Strava for Bike Maintenace
While I am a data geek, and spend too much time on Strava I have found that it is also an easy way for you to keep track of your equipment. Depending on your riding style you are normally able to start gauging how quickly you wear your equipment. It is also a good reminder of getting check overs. I’m able to look back since the first of the year and figure out what bikes have the most milage, do a mental check of which bikes have gotten love and which haven’t. Even if it is as simple as checking chain lube, tire wear and chain stretch. It will help save you money and headache as the season rolls on.
Weekly Bike Commuting Update
After last week’s post of finding motivation, I’ve put my legs to the grindstone and found happiness in both days of commuting on Thursday and Friday. With threats of rain (flooding to be exact) each day as I pedaled closer to home I found myself chasing rainbows and finding peace with where I am.
Next week I hope to track my food intake better, at least for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Not down to calories, but just to have a better clue have how much food it’s going to take to hit the 1,000 miles this month. For now I’ll leave you with some Strava stats and Flickr photos.
Stats for the first 10 days of August (4 on the bike)
- 169.0 miles (831 miles to go!)
- 11hr 28m of ride time
- 5,856ft elevation
Staying Motivated During the Polar Vortex and Colorado Winters
I need to confess, I haven’t been riding my bike as you can probably tell from the lack of updates and Strava achievements. In the cold and dark I’ve been turning to running and exploring the trails near my home. While this isn’t ideal for a content on a cycling specific site it is ideal for my happiness. My 2014 goals include no bike races for the first time in many years but instead to explore more and become a more rounded athlete.
How are you staying motivated and moving during these cold spells that keep hitting? Are you hitting the gym or maybe braver than I and suiting up for a bike ride? Perhaps you are smart and on the trainer in your basement pushing those watts around as your sweat hits the ground.
Tell us, what are you doing?
Bike Commuting in Denver: Part III
An on going series of riding and commuting in my new city of Denver Colorado. See more about my Denver Cycling experience here.
With my move successful complete (there are still boxes to find and empty if you would like to help,) I started testing out the commute from my house to the bike shop this past Monday. While I’ve only done the round trip commute a couple times it is great to explore a new city and perfect the streets to ride on or avoid completely.
Below is a Strava map of my ride into the shop. Pretty mellow and down hill until the last 2.5 miles which are constant climb to the front door of Salvagetti. This isn’t a horrible thing, but I’ve been testing out riding a single speed cyclocross bike with flat pedals for commuting and daily errands. I’m interested to see how fast the ride goes with gears so that I can push the pedals a bit more on the downhills.
My goals for the next few days are to get Emily’s new commuter rig built up (photos and bike profile coming soon) and to finish the unpacking of essentials like my 4 tubs of clothes. This will allow me to be less stressed and able to get out of the house next Tuesday/Wednesday when I have off.
Holiday Wish List for Bicyclist: Stocking Stuffers
Ideas for what to put in that stocking of the cyclist you love, or me!
Fresh new bar tape from Lizard Skins or Ergon GP2 grips are the easiest way to freshen up a bike. I’m also a big fan of both of these for long training miles in the winter. Happy hands = Happy Arleigh
Honey Badger + Socks made in North Carolina, how much more awesome could you get?
Gels, Bars and All Things Nutrition
My personal favorites for this category: Gu Chomps, Hammer Gel in large jugs, Kit Organic Bars (live on these things while traveling)
Ritz and his crew love bikes, support many causes and have the best hug to be found at tiring trade shows. Your local bike shop can order, or you can order direct. My personal favorite is Breakfast Buzz, Bike Shop Girl will probably have a private label of this after the holidays!
Lights and more Lights
It’s that time of the year that either it’s dreary on your road ride or you aren’t mountain biking after work because you can’t see. Help out your cyclist, keep them riding and safe!
On the road option 1: To be seen, this is for the front and back on the road when it’s getting dark. I’m a fan of the new Knog Blinder lights as they charge with a built in USB and add some personality to your bike.
On the road option 2: I’m biased, I LOVE the folks at Light & Motion. The gift set will add some much needed visibility and you can see with the 200 lumen headlight, unless you’re rolling at 25mph. Both are charged by a USB cable, saving the planet one battery at a time.
On the trail: Light & Motion is what I run almost exclusively. They are water proof, bomb proof, and the company (as mentioned) rocks. If your loved one doesn’t have anything to trail ride with I would recommend the Taz 800 or the Seca 800. The biggest advantage of the Seca is being able to run on your helmet (my preference) and a separate battery so you can charge others or have backups for long rides.
Strava and Garmin Geeks Rejoice
Does your loved one ride non-stop with a Garmin strapped to their bike? Class it up a bit with this K-Edge mount.
For the Single Speeder in your Life
Endless (another NC based company) is now anodizing their cogs to order!
EVERY bicycle rider needs one of these. Or two. Or four. It won’t prevent an accident, but it could save their life and notify you faster!
If all else fails, a gift card to your local bike shop towards merchandise or service would make any bicyclist happy!
Prep Work Starts Today for 2013
“It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” – Jackie Joyner Kersee
Race Report: 2013 6 Hours of Warrior Creek
This was the fourth year of testing my metal against the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. Each year as half of a women’s duo, my partner Melissa has always been the ringer for us and I wanted to be able to pull my half of the race as strong as she could.
Originally, this race was supposed to be a tuning race for the Burn 24 in late May. As plans have changed, boxes are being packed and I realized this would be my last race in the southeast it became clear that this race mattered more to me than I originally thought.
I pre-rode the course a week before race day. The course was excellent. The rock gardens were much easier and the climbs seemed to pass with less time. All good signs.
Aligning with my coach on all workouts, making sure my legs were rested and “loaded.” Bike was safety checked and then as it rained a few days before race day, I installed my more aggressive Maxxis Ardent tires (which saved my ass first lap.)
Brap, BRAP, BRAAAP
It was my year to run first lap, which is a full lap plus some road section and singletrack in the beginning to break up the field. I did my best not to blow myself up on the road, and keep a steady pace for 3/4 of the lap. Putting in some effort on the last sections of climbing and downhill gnar rock gardens.
My partner, Melissa, was rocking a single speed and turned over a pretty fast first lap. I headed back on the trail hoping to maintain our 2nd place position. Quickly 3rd place overtook me and I never saw her until my lap was over (damn it, she was only 2 minutes a head!) Melissa held our 3rd position and we ended on the podium. I coulda/shoulda/woulda gone for a 3rd lap (5th for the team) but 2nd,4th and 5th place girls (and I) all agreed not to go out for a 5th lap. Thank god for negotiations.
• Melissa rocked a 1:16 lap on her single speed
• We were in the “money” in 3rd place and somehow I walked away with cash in hand
• My high visibility yellow shoes, and Lazer Magneto pink/yellow glasses were a big hit.
• The Foundry Broadaxe with SRAM XX1 performed flawlessly, compared to last year this was an AMAZING feeling as most of the day I was fearing some mechanical that I couldn’t fix with my multi
• First place women were 16 and 17 years old! Hopefully I’ll be able to rope one of the girls, Sophie, into a race report!
• Warrior Creek is one of my favorite trails on the east coast. The Garmin has a hard time tracking milage but Strava thinks that I rode 26.7 miles with 2,752 ft of elevation.
Thank You to the Pit Crew
The day wouldn’t have been possible without a group of amazing friends. My girlfriend flew literally around the world from Turkey to get to the race. Shelley, Syd and Allen all were great support as Melissa and I came in and out of the pits. The guys from Bicycle Sport were there for mechanic assistance (though I didn’t need it) and the guys/girls from Total Cyclist had amazing encouraging words as they kicked our asses. Finally, thank you to Taryn and Jacob who watched the dogs for us so they didn’t have to be at the races all day!
Photo Credit: Lynn Willis (I purchased a full print version too!)