Strava takes a lot of flak for inadvertently incentivising idiots to take risks, but there’s a whole other side to using Strava to help make genuine improvements to your riding.
Let’s put all the leaderboards to one side for a moment. Forget the competitive aspect.
No, really, just pretend. It’s ok, your KOM’s will still be there when you get back!
There’s a more introspective way to use Strava to challenge yourself, through what they call Challenges. Genius, huh?
Perhaps Challenges are the antidote to segment burnout?
People can get a bit obsessed with segments. Every ride becomes a mission to bag a specific segment (or five), with all enjoyment dependant on success.
Whatever happened to just enjoying riding your bike?
Take the long view, with a challenge.
Here’s a recent example. The Vuelta Skelta challenged people to climb 7132 metres over 15 days. For an average rider that’s quite a lot, but it depends where you live, I guess.
For a couple of weeks, I took the hilly way home. No new KOM’s came my way but I improved my times up a few of those hills and I felt a lot stronger quite quickly.
Call it a Zen thing
There’s a different sort of mindset that takes over with a longer challenge too, particularly a climbing challenge. It’s meditative and relaxing to get into a rhythm and see those elevation numbers keep going up. You adapt to climbing fast with minimal effort (or maximum efficiency would be a better way to express it).
So don’t just slaughter yourself up segments, channel yourself into a challenge.
Of course, what I’m really dying for is for them to develop console game-like achievements.
Here’s the list of current Strava Challenges.