Hidden Strava Factors


strava-segment-challengeWith the introduction of Strava, an ongoing virtual race is always right there waiting for you.  Yeah, Stravaholics from around the world can battle it out with other cyclists in their area any day and time they want.  But remember, there are plenty of hidden Strava factors when comparing yourself to others.

Just in case you don’t know anything about Strava, let me quickly tell you that it’s a site that allows you to upload and track your rides and miles.  But on top of that, it allows you to see how you’ve done on certain segments of your ride and ranks you according to all others who have ridden it.

Although it’s great to see all the competitiveness out there, we all must remember that there’s a bunch of factors that are hidden from what shows up on Strava.

In a real-time race, competitors are up against the same outside factors as all others, but with Strava that’s not the case.  Here’s a few of them, and how they can skew the results of your Strava segment:

Weather – Kind of a no-brainer, but if you’re wanting to post up your PB on a Strava segment or grab a KOM….you’re going to want to do it on a day with dry roads and a temperature that you ride best in.

Wind – This one is bigger than you may think.  The person currently holding the Strava KOM/QOM in your area may have had insanely ideal wind conditions, right?  That might be the only difference between it and what you put up.

Traffic – This factor may not be a significant thing depending on where you ride.  If you have conditions like we do here in Grenada (super narrow roads and a lot of blocked traffic), then it will often be the deciding issue.

Yeah, you’ve seen my video on what it’s like to ride in Grenada….but it doesn’t always slow me down.  But I was recently going for a PB on the Woburn Loop, and after a couple miles of climbing as fast as I can I lost it due to blocked traffic on the decent.

Goats? – Yeah, goats.  Once again, this might not be an issue where you ride, but over here we deal with all sorts of things on the road.  Goat, sheep, stray dogs, mongoose, pedestrians (people are always walking on the road and often don’t look behind them when crossing the street).  We have it all…..and any one of these things can totally slow down an otherwise perfectly put together segment.

Age – Unless you are a Strava Premium member, you’re not able to distinguish between age groups for the segments.  That means if you’re a mid 40’s dude like me, you’re going up against those 20 something whipper-snappers.  But it also means that when you take a KOM away from them, you can gloat just that little bit more knowing that you’re twice their age and you kicked their ass.

 What else?  What outside factors do you feel can be the difference between a Strava personal best and just another segment?  Let’s hear it.

Enjoy Your Ride

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12 Responses to “ Hidden Strava Factors ”

  1. Brian w on September 27, 2014 at 2:04 am

    What about having a good bike with properly inflated tires. My second fastest time on a segment is when i had a great tailwind and ultrahard tires on my 3-speed 28″ wheeled market bike.

    • Darryl on September 27, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Good job, Brian. Just make sure they aren’t too inflated. Being over-inflated means the tired spends less time in contact with the road and ends up slowing things down.

  2. Willie Popp on September 26, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I think all have been said but there is some discrepancies in climbing between Garmin and Strava that turns ups frequently when I sync both. Even when I ask Garmin to adjust…

    • Darryl on September 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Interesting….what sort of sync problems are you having? Hey dude, when are you cruising to Grenada? October?

  3. Bob on September 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I don’t really compare my speeds/times to others. I do track against myself but even there I have to keep in mind that for some segments I may ride it at 20 miles one time and at 60 miles so that’s a factor too.

    • Darryl on September 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Very good point, Bob. Yeah, doing a segment after already riding several miles will definitely slow things down.

  4. ancker on September 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm


    A group of 30 guys goes a lot faster than a solo rider. A group of 30 guys with a 20mph tailwind is unbeatable.

    • Darryl on September 26, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Good point, I wasn’t even thinking about the advantages of riding with a group.

  5. MARK MIDDLETON on September 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Another one from my point if view is a virtual ride. I have a Tacx igenius turbo which connects to the internet and allows riders to ride their route virtually on google maps. If its not marked as a trainer ride or made private (which i do) then the KOM’s come rolling in for even average riders.

    As a helpful side note if you register with KOMdefender you get warnings about dubious rides which are pointed out for you to look at. These are often cheated in cars and have no HR, cadence etc.

    • Darryl on September 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      Whoa, I didn’t even know about that. Yeah, that would totally be a fabricated KOM. I had a friend once who forgot to shut off his computer and then went driving with it. He racked up some KOM’s, but then went in and deleted it.

  6. Mark Beaconsfield on September 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

    For the Stravaholics. If you want to check out the rides from other LTB and/or #bikeschool peeps, There are Loving the Bike and #bikeschool Strava clubs. Join in, compare your rides, encourage each other. You never know, you may find other LTB fans riding in your area.
    Simply search Loving the Bike or bikeschool under the clubs tab on the Strava website.

    • Darryl on September 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the plug, Mark. We also have a Mocha Spoke group for anyone wanting to ride here in Grenada.


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