Use your Garmin virtual partner to help get Strava KOM’s


Garmin Edge 800 users can take advantage of this trick to help win KOM’s on fitness site Strava, using the very useful Virtual Partner feature. Here’s how.

KOM sniping. It’s the new sport for the techno cyclist. It’s not good enough any more to feel the satisfaction of improved performance and personal bests. Oh no, to feel really smug you have to trigger as many “Uh oh..” emails from Strava as you can.

The dreaded “Uh oh” email

You know the ones, because your heart sinks every time you get one. The first reaction you might feel is “when am I going to reclaim it?”

The simple approach would be just to go out and work as hard as you can. Perhaps even wait for favourable wind conditions, or use any of these 9 tips, but read on to apply a little more geeky trickery to tip the odds in your favour.

Here’s a little trick Garmin Edge 800 users can use.

Virtual Partner

Using the virtual partner feature, you can ride against the “ghost” data from the fastest rider. This means that you’ll get constant feedback on whether you are in front of him/her, or lagging behind. And it will tell you exactly by how much.

It’s a great feeling to be working hard and watch that lead extend by 3 seconds, 4, 5, 6, 7.
If you start lagging behind it can also help motivate you to push harder, or perhaps work on your strategy.  There may be certain sections where you need to hold back a little, and others where the ground can be made up more easily.

So how is it done?

#Step 1 – grab the data from the guy with the KOM.

Find the segment in Strava,  right-click on the KOM’s time, then copy the link address. This is the segment_efforts data and it will look something like this

#Step 2- Extracting the data

The simplest way to do this is to use a tool over at

Just copy the segment_efforts URL into the box and click the Get Started button

Feed in the segment effort URL and hit the button!

#Step 3 – get the new file onto your Garmin.

With your Garmin connected via USB cable, click the “Send Course to Device” button.

If this fails, as it did for me actually, just use the “download the CRS file” link below, and copy it to the Garmin > NewFiles folder on the internal memory of the Edge 800.

#Step 4 – check the data on the garmin unit

Restart the unit, and select the new file as a Course, from the courses menu.
Hit the settings (spanner icon) and turn directions OFF, and Virtual Partner ON.

On the ride

Load the course up, from the Courses list. Hit the spanner icon and make sure Virtual Partner is ON.

Hit the Spanner icon

Set Virtual Partner to ON

Just say No

Hit the GO button when you’re approaching the segment. If it asks you to navigate to the beginning, just say no.

Swipe across so the VP screen is visible. It will say that you’re Off course, but that’s only because you haven’t got there yet.

The magic begins

As soon as you hit the segment, your Garmin should say “Course Found”, and you are now racing against the KOM in real time.

You will see, second by second, if you are leading or trailing behind.
If you wish to equalise (zero) the time difference at any point, just tap and hold the screen.

The unit will even tell you when the Virtual Partner has finished.

..and also alert you when you have completed the segment.

Good luck!

There’s no reason why you can’t load up your Garmin with many different segments, and plan a route to connect them all together for a big KOM-busting ride.

Happy sniping!

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  1. says

    Hey Alan, thanks for the write up. As a note you can also do this on the Edge 500, the interface just isn’t quite as beautiful.

    Also, it’s weird you couldn’t get the plugin to load it on the 800. It works for me with my 500, but there are a lot of places it could fail so it’s a hard thing to debug.

    • Alan says

      I suspected the 500 would do it too, but I don’t have access to one to check…

      I’m in awe of the work you’re doing with (and Ben with Veloviewer com too).
      Absolutely amazing.

  2. Stuart Edwards says

    Hi Alan – this is certainly a useful feature, but I thought it important to point out a limitation of Virtual Partner I learnt about from a little research recently.

    Virtual Partner only allows you to race against an AVERAGE time for a course. The Virtual Racer feature (sadly not available on the Edge 800) on the other hand gives true side by side comparison of speed at any given GPS position.

    So essentially, with Virtual Partner, the ghost rider will move at a uniform average speed throughout the course and will not represent the real rider’s differing performance on different parts of the segment. With Virtual Racer however, the ghost slows down and speeds up during the segment, just as the real rider did, giving an accurate reflection of the rider’s performance in real time.

    What this means is that the Virtual Partner feature could give you the impression you are doing really well against your opponent, when the reality is you are racing their average speed. On a short consistent climb this may not matter, but on a segment where the climb starts out at say 6% for 200m then ramps up to 15% for 200m, you might have a false impression of how well you are doing, as you could start out ahead of your opponents average speed by a few seconds and think you are on course to win, when the reality is that the average speed you are racing against has already taken account of the 15% incline that you are yet to ride up and thus your opponent is actually considerably ahead of you.

    So, basically, because its all based on averages, the result will become more and more accurate the closer you get to the end of the segment and it is a more useful feature on segments were the climb doesn’t vary to wildly in gradient and, in particular, doesn’t finish hard.

    It’s still a useful feature and one I intend to use, but I think the user needs to be aware of this limitation, so as not to be utterly confused as to why they didn’t get the KOM when it all seemed to be going so well!

    It’s a shame that Garmin haven’t included Virtual Racer in a firmware upgrade for the 800, but I doubt that they will now that the 810 is out – there’s no benefit for them in closing the spec gap between the two models :(

    • Alan says

      I had strongly suspected this for a while, but somehow convinced myself it was doing it “properly”. Thanks for the information!

    • Rob says

      Not true – it uses average speed if you plot the route as a course on Garmin Connect (as it has no basis for anything else) but if you create a course from a real activity, it uses the actual speeds/times from the real ride. I know this, because I do it regularly.

      Whether something gets lost during the export from Strava/import into Garmin, I dont know but I only use Garmin connect and for previous activities it definately works.

      It has been confirmed that the 810 has nothing new in the respect – they just tried to make it ‘look’ like a new/improved feature…

  3. Stuart Edwards says

    No worries – it’s the only thing that makes me even slightly jealous of the new edge 810 – but not jealous enough to spend an extra £140 fortunately!

  4. says

    Hi- just got my garmin 800 yesterday- installed OSM maps with your guide- im kinda a strava geek- and only used my iphone in the past! how would you go about linking segments on a planned route/’course’ and using virtual partner to attack multiple KOMs? sorry if this sounds dense!

    • Alan says

      I’ve not come across a quick and easy way to achieve that, though it’s an obvious thing to try to create. The most practical way is probably to create separate files, named sequentially in the order in which they’ll appear on your ride, then load each one up as you go along.

    • Darren W says

      I load them all separately and use them as a great training aid. When I get near a segment I want to improve on or go for the KOM I load it up. It’s not as slick as you want but it works really well. You can name them how you like to make it easier on the route to find the next segment. So basically what Alan says but it works well. It’s nice to know you’ve smashed the KOM before you get home. Unless of course someone has been there before you get home, that happened to me last week.

    • Alan says

      … and I can certainly vouch that it works for Darren – he’s definitely a local King KOM ;-)

  5. Jeremy says

    If you do this for a few segments during a ride, what is the resulting ride data like? Do you end up with several “rides” when you upload to Strava or is it still all one ride?

  6. Graeme says

    Question: Resync to Virtual Parnter on Edge 500

    Nice description.

    You mention how you can resync (equalise position) with the virtual partner at any time with the Edge 800. Is a similar feature available on the Edge 500?


  7. Philip Prendeville says

    “At the request of Strava, this feature has been removed.”

    Any alternative sites providing this function?

  8. Rick says


    When I copy location the segments efforts are like this: “”, but when I try and load it on it is not accepted.

    Can somebody help?


  9. Ian says

    Hi there

    I’ve just discovered this tip and it looks great, but when I try to use raceshape nothing happens. Can anyone enlighten me why this might be the case?



  1. […] No mention of the obvious thing that everyone wants, but Edge 1000 will have “advanced segment capabilities including the ability to view start and finish point alerts, race themselves or the segment leader, and plan rides using segments”. No, we’re not talking Strava segments, but Garmin Connect’s own version of segments. Who knows, it might work… Oh, and in the small print it says that this feature will be “available with later scheduled software updates” so it sounds like it won’t have this when it’s first launched. Tantalisingly, they do say that the new segment features will offer “leaderboard capabilities including alerts for upcoming segment starts and their finish points, and Virtual Partner automatic syncing with previous best, or the overall segment leader.” This is the sort of thing we’ve been able to do with the 800 via workarounds in the past. For example, How to Use your Garmin virtual partner to help get Strava KOM’s […]

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