Strava can be very addictive in the way it “gamifies” your riding and encourages competition. It’s satisfying to work hard and see your name at the top of the leaderboard. However, even if you manage to get a top position and earn the coveted KOM/QOM achievement (King/Queen of the Mountain), chances are you won’t stay there for long. Read on for a list of tips to help you improve your times.
If you’re mildly competitive, you’ll want to think about getting that KOM back, and here’s a few tips to help improve your chances.
- Get fitter, lose weight. Start with the stupidly obvious. Duh…
- Use a gps device which allows you to ride against a virtual partner, such as the Garmin Edge 800.This is my best tip, which I’ve used very recently to reclaim a KOM, and for me, represents a very proactive use of the GPS technology.
To use this feature, you will need to create a course from the recording of your previous best time, or better still – the current KOM leader. To grab someone else’s data as a gpx file from Strava, you need to use the third party CosmoCatalano tool, and then upload the GPX/TCX file to your Garmin > NewFiles folder, and then select it as a course to follow.
Turn virtual partner on, and if you tap/hold the screen at the foot of your climb, the times will be zeroed, allowing you to race (virtually) against the actual KOM leader, or your own personal best, depending on what data you load as a course.
Using this method, you will see, second by second, if you’re falling behind or gaining, allowing you to gauge where to push harder.
- Use RaceShape.com to analyse the difference between two riders. This is a very clever site which allows you to compare your ride against anyone else on the leaderboard. You can then see which particular sections are causing you problems, and come up with a strategy to minimise time lost over crucial sections.
Also, see my post for other ways to play with your Strava data
- Know exactly where the segment starts and ends.
You may crest the hill and then ease off, thinking you’ve done it. Quite often when segments are created, people aren’t too careful about the exact start and end points so they may not be exactly where you think they should be.
- Start fresh, take it easy getting to the base of the climb, or if you’re really desperate, drive there with the bike in the car, then warm up and go for it.
- Take advantage of tailwinds. If you’re going out KOM sniping on a windy day, pick your targets accordingly.
- Get a flying start into a segment. Know exactly where it begins and aim to hit the start at speed. But don’t overcook it too early!
- Ride in a group, to get the aerodynamic benefit. If you start near the back and finish near the front, you’ll get the best time. Don’t go too hard and save energy for a hard finish. Don’t wipe yourself out too early. Be prepared for the shouts of “Strava slut”.
I hope some of the ideas above are useful to somebody. There’s nothing wrong with using your brain to increase your chances of beating your previous times, but humans are odd creatures and some will cheat to get KOM’s. They’re only cheating themselves and it’s not big or clever.
If you suspect someone cheated, you can flag their ride, giving a reason why you believe it must be incorrect. I’ve flagged rides which were obviously recorded from a car or motorcycle, and they get removed from the leaderboard immediately.
It should only be a bit of fun after all, but if it makes us work harder and get faster and fitter, then bring it on. There’s nothing wrong with a good bit of healthy competition between friends.
Please remember, if you do use GPS to record your rides, please lock down your GPS data, to protect yourself against bicycle thieves
Got any more Strava KOM tips to offer? Please share in the comments.