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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here in Montana, we had a later start to the season than usual. We had a two-foot dump right at the beginning of March, that while great for skiing the local terrain, wasn't so good for mountain biking. I've been riding more or less daily to break through the early-season hump in preparation for a CO/UT vacation next month, but at times it's been tough. Your body just can't perform the way you remember.

My wind comes back easily enough, but I'm weak and 10 pounds heavier than I was in the fall. Riding out to one of the favorite local downhills tonight, I found myself thinking that when I start seeing Strava achievements on uphill segments, I'll know I've pushed through. When I got home, I found I had 4 achievements on uphill segments tonight, including one that featured a stop-and-stretch. Sure didn't feel like it.

I was a reluctant adopter of Strava. I try to remind myself that the real measure of success is a) no carnage and b) having fun, but I can see how people get sucked into it. It's definitely useful for tracking improvement, though.
 

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I agree.
I had heard of Strava recently, but had no idea what it was.
I am coming back into riding after stopping in 1997.

Last time I was out, I set PR's on a lot, surprisingly. (I always have tracked my time riding by my cyclocomputer, but never a GPS or anything like Strava).

I slashed 2 minutes off my previous best of 11:36 on a section, and over 1 minute on a previous best 5ish minute uphill. Best part? I felt like crap, but it was because I was pushing my middle ring. First time I have never shifted into the granny gear since I started getting back into riding in November.
Seeing faster times on sections, seeing the heart-rate monitor not blowing past my 100% max, AND pushing larger gears is something that before, I was not able to do!

I am liking this "program"/app as a training tool, absolutely!


Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Swatara near Jonestown | Times and Records | Strava


One thing, do not trust the GPS implicitly. It ALWAYS shows only 8.5 miles on this short course, but my computer, and everyone else's computer that has ridden there shows 9.5-9.6 miles.
 

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It's easy to set Strava achievements if you haven't been using it for very long, especially if you don't ride the same segments/trails very often.
 

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beater
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Strava runs off the phone's GPS, and has some pretty wide error bars, which vary from ride to ride. Sometimes you get a fast track, and sometimes you get a slow one. Sometimes it starts you on a segment when you don't think you're there yet. I'm not that fussed about it. I figures the 1 in 5 rides on a segment is a legit attempt to put up a time. On our group rides (such as tonight) we deliberately stop halfway on the DH so that nobody is Internet racing. Not the point of the group rides. And I ride a lot with my dog, and I'm not hanging him out on a Strava attempt.

I started using it last year, and have a couple dozen or more times on pretty much all the local segments. But it takes a month or so to start filling in the cracks and laying down a statistically valid record of my times. After a couple months, I started seeing mostly uphill achievements as I got into better shape, and DHs became rarer. This spring I've had a number of DH PRs, but hadn't seen any uphill achievements until tonight. It's a hint of some improvement, at least. The first robin of spring.
 

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I got my first batch of PR's on my ride last Saturday. It was on a trail I haven't ridden too much, but I rode it mostly late in the season last year when I should have been faster. And that was after a fairly big day (climbing-wise, for this early in the season) last Wed. It seems I'm well on my way towards my goal of busting out 50+ mile days by the end of the riding season this year. Last year I wasn't riding much this time of year, as I was training for my first half marathon. I was running almost every day. The run was hard on my knees, so I didn't do anything more than light riding until mid-June or early July. I had wanted to get my 50+mi goal last year, but I think doing the half marathon actually set me back.

I'm not sure I'm over the spring hump or not, but I am seeing my fitness progress. I've had some 40+ mi days on the road bike this year and I have a goal to get 60-70 in a day on it this summer. Not as a specific mileage goal per se, but rather a particular destination for a light tour. I'll have a few opportunities for that this summer. A cycling group I'm actually an employee of is going to be doing a tour to a big bluegrass festival about 60-70mi away to camp for the weekend later in the summer. I have to say, when I heard about that yesterday I perked up.
 

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Never Forget 9-11
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Strava gave me a PR on an uphill segment this week. Funny thing is that I rode the segment in the downhill direction. Best one I've seen is a KOM on an uphill section that shows the rider going 89mph.

I like Strava but it's just a tool that has it's limitations.
 

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Strava gave me a PR on an uphill segment this week. Funny thing is that I rode the segment in the downhill direction. Best one I've seen is a KOM on an uphill section that shows the rider going 89mph.

I like Strava but it's just a tool that has it's limitations.
Gotta love inaccurate phones.
 

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Never Forget 9-11
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Gotta love inaccurate phones.
100% correct. That's why I don't take all the Strava results when comparing myself to others too seriously. I know that my iPhone shorts me about 1/10 of a mile per mile in the woods but it's almost spot on while riding on the road bike.
 

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My brother is an engineer, and one of his engineering buddies works for a company that works heavily in GPS.
He told my brother that if there is a tree within 100' of a GPS device, the device CAN be off by a very significant amount. I don't recall what his number was, but something to the effect of around 100' off is what I gathered.

In the woods, in a mountain bike, with twisty terrain - that is a lot of error potential!
 

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I find its consistent over time. The key is a good gps or recent phone... The latter must be in an outside pocket of a backpack, jersey, or on the bars. Side pocket, front of shirt pocket, etc will cause errors.

The 89mph ref could be a guy who forgot to turn it off on his way home. I know I've pissed off many roadies by forgetting to shut it off after a remote ride.

Their are several threads that go into great detail. Some even suggest android makes you slightly faster.

All in all I believe its a good product. Especially for endurance training.
 

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beater
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm not surveying. I've used survey-grade GPS for work, and I'm aware of the differences and limitations with a handheld or a phone. My feeling is that phone GPS and Strava is good enough for my use on a mountain bike. When my Garmin died, I started recording tracks on an iPhone with Motion-X, and the results weren't markedly different. Strava is generally consistent with the other phone apps I've used. As LB412 mentioned, the key really is where I put the phone. It works best in the top pocket of my pack. In a shirt or shorts pocket, the track can be pretty iffy and generally doesn't work out.

All that aside, I accept what it's telling me: that I am starting to push through and build a base for the season, and I'm pleased to be there well before any of the bigger rides open up or I take off to UT and CO. I still felt like I was working hard on my climbs the other night, but well, like Lemond (I believe) said: it doesn't get easier; you just go faster.
 

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there is a lot of variability among phones. Some have good GPS hardware, but others have cheap, crappy GPS hardware. Not just the chipset, either. The antenna makes a big difference. And yes, position of the device when you ride also makes a big difference.

the app you're running also makes a big difference. Some apps filter bad data points pretty well. Others don't.

For that matter, it may not even be a phone on FujiNoob's suspect KOM. Could be an old dedicated GPS without a high-sensitivity chipset, or it could have been buried in the pack or whatever. I personally don't use a phone for Strava. I just upload data from my GPS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I have a passing familiarity with those issues, partly from some of your posts, and partly from friends here, but as I mentioned, my tolerances are pretty forgiving. And for the nerd-race side of Strava, I don't see much benefit in providing better quality data to Strava when it's mostly compared to phone data from other users.

If my eTrex still worked, I would be using it to track my rides. In some ways I'd prefer that. Partly for better tracks, but mostly so that my phone could be freed up to sit in a pocket and be handier for photos. But it wasn't worth the $90 that Garmin wanted. I bought it from Amazon. Next time it'll be from Backcountry.
 
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