The Big Question: Strava?

I’m writing a piece for an upcoming Dirt Mag looking in to the effect that Strava has had on mountain biking. This seems to be a very emotive issue with some very strong opinions both for and against. The technology and the data it produces has been used both positively and negatively but depends on who’s using it, their intentions and responsibly.

To gauge Dirt readers feelings on the subject it would be a great if you could answer the following questions relating to you own experiences and leave comments below expanding on them.

Do you use Strava mountain biking?

  • Yes (67%)
  • No (33%)
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How has Strava affected your riding?

  • It has improved my time on the bike (85%)
  • It has had an adverse effect on my time on the bike (15%)
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Do you plan rides to specifically put times in on segments?

  • Some of the time (62%)
  • Never (30%)
  • Most of the Time (8%)
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How has Stava affected your local trails?

  • No significant change (77%)
  • The trails have seen an increase in use due to Strava (23%)
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I think Strava is...

  • a good thing for Mountain Biking (81%)
  • a bad thing for Mountain Biking (19%)
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  1. Chris K-S

    “Will Longden ‏@Willlongden
    XC bikes that need to find satellites before we can set off for a ride? Where did it all go so wrong?!”

    Quote from twitter a while back. says it all really.

    1. Nick Hamilton

      So are you against GPS use at all when riding mountain bikes? You dont think having a record of where you’ve been is useful?

      1. Chris K-S

        ive never used gps on a bike. i have eyes, they are enough to see where i want to go.

    2. Neil

      It all went wrong when mountain bikes started costing more than cars, that’s when.

  2. Ant

    I recall Dirt/ Billy did an article a while ago on trials & building them and why we do it. Along the lines of why we won’t tell you where they are, because you’ll bring your mates, who will bring there’s. Videos will then be posted on the www and finally the Forestry Commission will come along and destroy it. We’ll have you checked out Strava lately? Those local trails are now all over it :-( Personally I don’t like strava!

    1. Nick Hamilton

      Ant, do you know you can flag segments if they are inappropriate so they are removed from Strava? Have you ever done that?

      1. Liam

        Unfortunately if you flag a trail and get it removed there is nothing to stop it being put back in place the very next day when someone rides it. This has been a problem on some estates on walkers paths where the owners/national heritage etc dont want to advertise said walkers path to bike riders but the route gets ridden and remapped again as quickly as they can flag it…..

    2. RP

      well at least billy has learnt his lesson. After the brilliant dirt issue on still woods in bristol, we saw the road outside jammed with vans of folks driving there to ride and landowner flattened the place

  3. dirt dodger

    NEVER USED IT, DON’T PLAN ON USING IT, WOULD NOT LOAD MY TIMES FOR SECRET TRAILS ONTO IT(they are secret for a reason) ! ANYBODY THAT DOES IS A MUPPET AND BELONGS IN TRAIL CENTRES ! Not that there is anything wrong with trail centres but you get my drift.

  4. Howie

    Used it twice, just on the xc or am bike. To afraid to keep my iPhone in a pocket doing dh.
    I think it made it a bit more interesting, but only use it when I can be arsed. Certainly don’t plan my riding round it. As that’s not what it’s about for me.

    Also used it as a training aid on my local sneaky dh runs, but never posted te times. So nobody knows where they are. Not easy to do, get the times Not to post though…

  5. Jamie G

    It is good fun to use to get an idea of your progress and have a bit of banter with your mates and encourage you to try harder but it is only a guide, i think 1/2 the problem is peoples ego, they get upset if they lose their KOM due to an inconsistency with the gps track or because somebody zoomed round the fire road passing through the same start and finish points because they were set too close to the road and so they need to get over their need for willy waving and use it as the tool it is. Until there is something that tracks a much larger number of route points to ensure a route is actually taken and until all GPS devices are using a minimum std of GPS chip there will always be random times submitted so ignore those and just worry about your own consistency. It has made me work harder to improve my times in areas and sections I was lacking and that can only be a good thing

  6. JT

    Strava might be bad for trails, but then so are mountain bikes… think about it. The fact that people want to push themselves to be faster is what the sport is about, so how can you be against an app/web service that helps people train and improve?

    As a user, you just have to not take it too seriously and not cut corners. Use it to better yourself and eventually it will improve you where it matters most – at races.

    If you don’t like it, don’t use it! You are lucky enough to have the choice.

  7. Jamie G

    It’s also useful to set the start and finish points for a segment a few metres in from any fire road or congregation points to minimise picking up people just riding past or riding another track that both start and finish in the same location

    I can understand why people would prefer to keep secret trails secret and how more traffic could occur if it’s visible on strava but word usually gets out about these things in the end anyway, you can’t blame the technology for people wanting to find and ride good trails, isn’t that why we love mountain biking in the first place, to get out and discover new things, if a trail is on public land it’s going to get found eventually

  8. andyl

    i use it mainly as a bit of friendly competition against friends.i hate it though keep seeing more and more segments appear around where i live (north wales) people riding hidden secret stuff on it- stuff ive built footpaths etc. thats a bad thing. its quite good to see times against other riders though and i guess makes you push it a little bit more to go faster, i wouldnt say it makes anybody ride “like a dick” on shared trails i ride bridal ways as fast as i do with strava on or off that is irrelevant. ive recently read a topic on singletrackworld about a chap in the west midlands receiving a letter from a land owner warning him against riding on his land. i assume looking at strava/endomondo or similar and then getting details to get the guys postal address to send it. big brother is watching you!

  9. Dick Coal

    If you don’t like it then don’t use it and stop throwing shit at those who do. I don’t do downhill because I prefer a workout so 30-40 mile track/forest rides with 2000 ft climbs is my bag. Any tit can fly down hill only the speed varies so why not try riding uphill maybe your skinny legs will grow a bit. Strava – bloody great app and thanks.

    1. Oz

      Well done…you’re the kind of willy waving tosser that’s fueling part of this discussion.

    2. dirt dodger

      any tit can fly downhill? hmmmmm.

  10. Dave

    Strava keeps things interesting! If you treat it like riding (don’t take it super seriously/have a paddy when the gps fails/don’t cry when you get beat by your mate) It’s all gravy and adds a new aspect to riding! Definitely a good aide to find ‘popular’ routes and trails in the area too (especially if you’re new to the area).

    If anyone’s bothered about ‘secret’ trails just make the ride private…

  11. Jon Gregory

    Can be a good navigation and training tool. When used on local trails it can have an adverse effect when the competitive nature of being the fastest comes in to play. If you look at the hills surrounding Peaslake in Surrey you start to see what can happen when Strava is heavily used. Corners get cut, shortcuts are taken and the trails straighten out.

  12. Rod Fountain

    You don’t get this trouble in Cyclocross, no Sir!

  13. Big Dawg

    It seems that most people either like to use it as a helpful tool to improve personal goals ie knock 5secs off this segment within a month etc or they’re not bothered about it and don’t see the fuss.

    The problem seems to come from two angles one being luddites who mainly claim to have never used it but still have a problem with people who do use it e.g. Chris K-S ‘ive never used gps on a bike. i have eyes, they are enough to see where i want to go.’ Which in my opinion is disliking something purely for the sake of it. If you don’t use it and are happy without it then why do you care what other people do?

    But the second reason which crops up more often than not is the damage to and discovery of trails. Regarding damage to trails I can’t see that people who use Strava to improve their riding by comparing their times over a certain period can ever be accused of misusing the trails in general? Surely that’s what they are there for and for those who build and maintain trails a huge amount of respect and appreciation is deserved to allow people the opportunity to improve skills and fitness. However if people simply cheat, which is what it is, by cutting corners and missing out sections of trail just to improve their time then there is a genuine problem. It won’t ever benefit your riding to improve your time by 5secs by cutting a corner yet over time it can do serious damage to the trail and is a legitimate problem for which I can’t really see a solution other then an enormous amount of time spent by trail builders implementing means to stop people doing this but the reality is they shouldn’t have to and probably won’t bother. What’s more likely is the builders will get fed up and choose to build trails in more secret locations and try their best to restrict access by only letting certain friends etc know about them. In which case most of the rest of lose out but who could blame the trail builders for doing this?

    As for the discovery of secret trails then I’m sure you can flag up sections that you want to remain hidden and get them taken off but I also sympathise with this point of view because I personally don’t build trails and wouldn’t know where to start so I benefit hugely from other people’s work and if they want to keep somethings for themselves them I find it hard to argue with that.

    1. dirt dodger

      it takes a long time to build a good trail, it takes a lot longer to build a trail that will withstand the elements properly and will not be found, the “not be found” part here is primary to trails not only staying in good condition, not getting trashed, abused by idiots, shit attempts at rebuilds/additions etc you get my drift, but also keeping the enjoyment factor of having something your own that you built that will give practise in the areas that you want. Example, you find my trail, you put it up on Strava for no real reason other than to be a dick or a superstar for your 1 minute of fame – more people turn up, landowner spots cars everywhere and idiots leaving rubbish, walkers and horse riders getting pissed off – trail closed and countless days of careful digging, moving, cutting etc has been a waste – thanks. If you say use Strava as an excuse for a training aid then fine if the results are not online but if so then why not use a stopwatch or moto timer – they are not gps dependant, if you choose to put them up then i feel sorry for you and your lies. More to the point if you are that bothered about timing – support your local race series, pay some money, support the sport and get real.

      1. Chris K-S

        well said.

      2. Big Dawg

        @Dirt Dodger if you read what I wrote properly you’ll see I fully appreciate and sympathise with the trail builders’ points of view and more to the point appreciate hugely the amount of work that trail builders put in so myself and others can ride. I’m not sure why you’ve taken exception to my post but I meant no offence. I use and like Strava and would never want to contribute to the destruction of trails or other people’s hard work. My point really was that Strava in and of itself is no bad thing and indeed can help riders of all types but it’s the misuse of trails by riders themselves, not the app on your phone (which to my knowledge cannot actually ride a bike), which causes the damage.

      3. Big Dawg

        Ps I’m not a liar. What do you mean by that?

    2. dirt dodger

      hey big dawg I didn’t, perhaps the term “you” was taken as though being directed at you, it wasn’t – more of a generalised “you” if you get me. I actually thought your post was well measured and i agreed with the way it was written and the point you made about not building tracks – the liar reference again was a general comment and not aimed @ you.

      1. Big Dawg

        Fair enough mate. I understand your frustration as a trail builder, must piss you right off having people publish your trails and then mess them up! Anyway all the best.

      2. dirt dodger

        no problemo big dawg

  14. Oz

    Has nobody here heard of a stopwatch?

  15. Leon

    It’s main problem is people cheating , I don’t use Strava my self but people that ride my local trails ( well used it’s all logged now ) do use it and the times some of them post up are utter bullshit ,still they are only cheating them selves.

  16. jim

    I’ve got local trails I use strava to time myself on occasionally; I just hide the segment if I want to keep it private so its not overused..

    Its the same as all technology; its how you use it.

  17. Hancock

    Strava?
    Thank you and no.
    I ride my bike purely because it’s fun, I don’t need yet another machine to turn it into a global dick measuring contest.
    Leave me to play in the mud thanks.

  18. daz5239

    i used strava for about a week and got fed up with it , its very inaccurate , hardly ever picked up sections and just annoyed the hell out of me.

    Ive seen several people going to glentress and smashing out runs repeatedly to try and beat a certain time to the point where they are hitting the deck the whole time , i also know one person who has become so obsessed with it that the only reason they would ride was to try and beat a single persons time.
    That person now no longer enjoys riding as they think that there not good enough and dont enjoy riding for the fun. ive spent so much time on berm baby because of this , i reckon strava kills riding!

  19. Big Al

    I like Strava, it makes riding more fun. I think it should be mandatory when you ride, so that you can be ranked. I then think your ranking should be linked to writing in comment boxes on the internet, then, if your not in the top 20, you can’t comment and run everything down on the internet and only read what real riders think.

    1. dirt dodger

      i like big al !

  20. Graeme Wadhams

    Strava definitely makes me push harder down some trails, there’s a niggling thought in my head thinking “can’t cruise, got to go faster” which ultimately ends up in it being more fun, the more you push, the faster you go = more fun
    .
    I definitely get annoyed when it doesn’t track a trail that I think i’ve just smashed and its definitely bad for showing punters around (especially true in the Surrey Hills)
    .
    I definitely don’t use in on the road bike, tried that a couple of times and felt way too sick

  21. Ronin

    Stravacide. Cliff ‘em all.

  22. Ronin

    ..and I don’t mean in a good Burton metallica kind of way.

  23. nozes

    The way I see it,Strava is the way to turn mtb in a “outdoor computer game”.

    I don’t use it,and don’t even know people who does.
    I’m planning to share my local trails on Sports Tracker so more people can find and ride them,so the vegetation doesn’t close so fast. My problem is very different from yours,lots of singletrack,not enough people riding it.

  24. Hank Stamper

    STRAVA is fun. But, just like most things that are fun – use in moderation.

  25. Stikman

    I use it, I like it, been only doing it for a year, and the first few months I was trying to rally for DH times on my trail rides…over that now, I only use it as a journal for my rides and try to get faster climb sections. Its good fun, I have met a few new riders through strava which is good and its good for some banter.

  26. paddy

    its all friendly competition, if you don’t like it then don’t use it. it sometimes does take the fun out of riding because trying to be faster means missing out jumps and other bits that might be fun.

  27. Gor

    I didn’t even know what that was!
    But after I googled it, I can say, that I use runkeeper, which is about the same! I wouldn’t say it improves my riding, but it’s a nice gimmick and gives you useful information about you ride I think!

  28. rick

    strava isnt accurate enough. whats the piont in timing yourself when the times are wrong? ive used it a few times. and on a pretty flat bit of track, a mate and me had 400ft of elevation difference.
    also, people then stand around for 10 minutes trying to find a signal to upload when they should be riding.

  29. Hagar

    I use it every ride. Not for competitive reasons but to monitor my rides so I can measure distances, speeds and elevations to compare against previous rides.

  30. Nige

    I have used Strava, it was a good way to see who was the fastest between your mates. That was a while ago, since then traiils have been found which isnt such a bad thing but when you ride your line and someone has decided to change a section to suit them then that is not good. I / we have taken the App off our phones, we don’t care who is the fastest, we care about the trails we build and that they stay the same. Anyone can ride anyones trails, its good to see / meet riders who like your trails and sometimes share there trails. Word of mouth is better then stopping to see if your at the right spot or entrance to some trail on your knob phone device, just ride and we will seek. Its an ok App but stop changing the trails you find to suit your own riding ability. If the trail is an illegal trail then it will be found and demolished sooner or later despite using Strava, the simple solution is stop using Strava, leave your knob phone in the van! Just shout when you crash on your own.

  31. Neville

    The trail building argument is very interesting and after helping on a couple of build days in the Surrey Hills I have but a tiny appreciation of the relentless hard work that goes into producing the trails we ride on. But after riding there for 10 years or more I don’t think Strava can be blamed for certain things – new lines have always formed as people have tried to bust quicker times. Riders have found trails via the web, and riding has become more popular. The massive and well deserved publicity that British Cycling has gained in the last couple of years is surely the main reason that the trails have become more crowded, rather than Strava.
    In saying that, I now use it all the time and it is making me a quicker rider, making me concentrate on keeping speed in corners and (hopefully!) getting off the brakes.
    I enjoy reading and watching the World Cup on dirt and the timing element involved with Strava adds a useful and competitive edge to riding for me.

  32. Gert B. Fobe

    What is a Strava, does it come in carbon?

  33. dave

    It’s turned the majority of people who use it in to nob heads, racers using it for training and line choice I can understand but takes the fun out of it for the average Joe

  34. dave

    Agree with pretty much everything dirt dodger has said, if you wanna wave your c#ck around about how fast you are then put up against others when you haven’t got an infinite amount or attempts

    1. Neil

      The thing is, it’s quite nice having lots of attempts to set your personal bests on your favourite bits of descent. You may perhaps have heard of the Dirt 1.04? The whole thing with Strava segments is that everyone gets to have their own 1.04′s to try and push on in their own backyards. I know it’s made me attack sections in ways I hadn’t before, I just commit that bit more when I know there’s a clock running.

  35. Brunse

    It’s free, it’s useful, it can be fun, you don’t have to publish your rides if you don’t want to ‘measure you dick on the internet’ as some have put it.

    For me, it’s a good way of keeping track of my training in one place, without spending a heap on a Garmin. It’s fine, chill out.

  36. b

    It just adds a bit of fun to my rides, its all about the fun, isnt it ? I’ve been diggin trails for the last 3 years, people have been fucking with them and making then easier long before strava came along

  37. paulhaysom

    Isn’t the main debate going on here just whether you want to be competitive or not?

    Some riders use it to compare themselves to others as that’s what they enjoying about riding, but this can spill over into wrecking trails as riders realise where they can cut corners and do so. Wrecking the lines in the process, all in the hunt to say they are the fastest.

    I enjoy seeing where I sit on the leaderboards though, as I’m fairly competitive. Best thing to do is show respect to the people that built them and help out digging.

  38. spunkface

    Just sack it off, we’ve all been enjoying riding our bikes for years without it. If you’re competitive and want to battle it out with your mates then enter a race. And tbh it’s f**king boring when people start dicking on about it… same goes for people going on about kashima coatings on forks… Dull as f*ck.

  39. Will Soffe

    It’s not accurate enough for off-road use on short tracks and causes people to argue…

  40. unleash

    get rid, its exposing trails to massive amounts of traffic the trails cant sustain it and die ,if you find secret trails by all means ride em even tell ya mates but not the whole fucking mtb world! old school and newbies .Trails should be earnt by exploration ,talking to like minded people ,making friends with other riders etc etc .This way trails are exposed to random trickles of riders instead of floods that wash away and also expose them to people who you maybe didn’t want to know about them.I hate the bloody thing cheers.

  41. Turd

    I use it every so often. Got nothing against it. The reason i use it is to log how many miles i do (only use it on XC) and just find it interesting at the end of the ride to see how far ive gone and maybe the average speed of the ride. Its not that accurate so short tracks arnt very accurate so theres no point using it for Downhill.

  42. Ben

    I used it for the first time on wednesday and recorded my ride, Its a pretty cool bit of kit for a map nerd like me. I don’t want to publicly show my trails as I don’t want them being spoilt, however for myself, I think its a really good training tool for enduro/xc rides to be competitive against yourself.

    1. Ben

      I just changed my privacy settings on strava so that only approved followers can see my tracks, this is how to do it; Login, go to settings in the drop down menu, click on privacy, then turn ON enhanced privacy mode, hopefully this should hide all your recorded routes from people you choose cannot follow you!

  43. Jonathan Annable

    ride you bike and have fun leave the house and get covered in mud or ride with a real mate and have loads of fun got no time for strava to busy having a great ride.

  44. Steve

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