Strava motivates riders by rewarding personal bests and top 10 rankings. So, how can we still use Strava effectively through the cold months when you ride slower?
It’s a physiological fact that we slow down a bit in Winter. Our muscles aren’t quite as responsive, and road and atmospheric conditions are often less suitable to going flat out. Having to wear more layers of clothing even has an effect. So with the odds stacked against you, it’s unlikely you’re going to be breaking any PB’s or grabbing any KOM’s.
There are always regular monthly challenges to participate in on Strava.
Visit the main Strava Challenges page and sign up to one.
Strava will then track your mileage (if it’s a distance challenge) and give you a little progress bar so you know how you’re doing and how much more effort you need to put in. They can be very motivating, but there’s also a risk of over-training if you’re the over-competitive type. Hopefully, you’ll know if you’re at risk of this.
Play the long game
Winter is about “base miles” for many people, and you can track your mileage summaries compared with previous years using your Strava data, and the coolest third party sites that use the Strava API.
Veloviewer is the clear leader in this field. It’s the data viz dashboard that will delight, continually pushing the coolness envelope with its geeky tricks and number crunching awesomeness.
The new Summary page includes a neat line chart which shows a comparison with previous years.
Jonathan O’Keeffe Summary Stats
Another site that’s developed a lot over the last year, Jonathan O’Keeffe’s site. This is the original source of the multiple ride mapper, and it used to host a tool for looking at the history of changes on specific segments, but this one became obsolete when Strava changed their API.
The next stage allows you to choose whether you want metric or imperial data.
Once the data has loaded, there are many options for viewing different factors, by year.
Annual distance by bike was an interesting one. If you have more than one bike listed on Strava, you can see exactly how much you’ve used each one from year to year. It also separates out your commuter rides.
In case you weren’t aware, did you know you can also monitor the mileage of individual components within Strava?
One of the tabs produces a chart very similar to the Veloviewer summary one!
Join a strava club
See if you can get in the top 10, or top half (or whatever is an appropriate goal for you) within a virtual club of Strava members, like the ScarletFire Strava Club.
This produces a weekly leaderboard of who rode the most miles, who did the longest ride, and who climbed the most.
Join the ScarletFire Strava club now.
If you use an indoor trainer, there’s a neat thing you can do with the TrainerRoad software that gives you pretty accurate data on power, apparently…
High Cadence training
If I ride on autopilot, I tend to pedal around 60-70 rpm. There have been various studies into cadence and efficiency and it’s now recognised that it’s more efficient to have a cadence between 80 and 100. It increases the efficiency of blood flow and reduced strain, apparently. Spinning quickly also uses the slow twitch muscle fibres, which will produce less lactic acid so there’s implications there too for better endurance.
Let your Garmin Edge train you to spin more quickly
A Garmin with performance monitoring, can sound an alert if certain factors drops below or above a certain level. This provides ideal feedback during a ride, but you can also use Strava to monitor average cadences over the whole ride. This could be useful training over a regular commute, and if you’re starting off with a low cadence, you’d see a steady increase in the average over time.
You’ll also find that spinning quicker will keep you warmer when it’s really, really cold outside. You may travel slower initally, but you’re training your legs to go quicker, and you should feel the benefit in the Spring.
Go for a run
Strava can log many different activities, it’s not just for bikes. If you have legs, or suitable prosthetic ones, you could go for a run. You might not enjoy it though because as everyone knows, running is horrible.
Rest and recuperate
Winter is the perfect time to rest a little and let your body recover from a hard summer of thrashing yourself up hills till you almost puked. Take it easy. Go ride your bike, look around, smell the wet leaves and the slow decomposition of roadkill. Leave the Garmin at home and forget about numbers just for a while.
(warning, may induce coldturkey-like withdrawal symptoms)
Strava is also a social platform, let’s not forget that. Engaging with your friends and followers can be very rewarding and lead to meeting new people and places.
What are your tips?
If you’re anything like me, the chance of getting any personal bests in the Winter is zilch. How do you use Strava (or any other tricks) to keep you motivated to ride?