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Nothing like a Strava reality check to tell you how your PR sucks

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Nothing like a Strava reality check to tell you how your PR sucks

Old 09-01-11, 10:13 AM
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hhnngg1
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Nothing like a Strava reality check to tell you how your PR sucks

Rode to a personal PR on a training solo hill climb in my area (6 miles of continuous uphill.) Broke my old PR by almost 45 seconds over a 38 minute climb, which I was pretty happy about.

Uploaded my data to Strava, and it looks like I've been beaten by over 100 people, many of whom likely live in my immediate area on that very same climb.

Damn. So much for glory.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:17 AM
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Keep it up. I've moved up significantly on a challenging hill nearby.

For funnies, some dude this mornnig had a ride of 9,000+ miles, and across a large body of water. Well done.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:19 AM
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Strava PRs are just comparing average speed. And we all know how useful that is.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by svtmike View Post
Strava PRs are just comparing average speed. And we all know how useful that is.
They are useless, true, but they make a little more sense if you are looking at the same route. Of course wind can still play a role.
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Old 09-01-11, 10:49 AM
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they dont compare average speed, they compare total time across the segment, I believe
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Old 09-01-11, 11:02 AM
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I feel the same way. I did one recently where I felt pretty damned good about the climb until I looked at Strava. Then I started recognizing some of the names at the top of the leaderboard (domestic pro, district champs, former masters world champ), and then I felt a little less bad.

There's always someone faster.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by cpjolicoeur View Post
they dont compare average speed, they compare total time across the segment, I believe
And that's your avg speed across the segment. But it compares your actual average, not your average moving speed. I had a climb that showed me at 5 mph avg =D because I stopped 3x so I didn't die from heat stroke.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by cpjolicoeur View Post
they dont compare average speed, they compare total time across the segment, I believe
Uhmmm, that is pretty much the same thing.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:34 AM
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Strava seems as good as you can get for a comparison in a nonrace-TT situation. It breaks the route down into segments, so as long as you've covered the entire segment on your GPS ride, you can compare yourself to others who have done it. The "VAM" is a neat idea too - gives a measure of how fast your climbing given the road incline, so you can get a number that should translate across other climbs.

Also neat to see the range of power produced by the strong climbers. Not sure if they're PM data but some guys are climbing really fast with surprisingly low power, and slow enough that aero gear probably won't do much (the avg speed was 14mph for the fastest climber of 400, and I was around 9mph.)

As well, I may be reading too much into the data, but my segment 'ranking' was higher for the brief flatter section (flat then a 2% incline for half a mile) than for the climb sections, despite me being sure I didn't increase my effort on the flats. My BMI is on the stocky side (27.5 - overweight by their clunky criteria) so I wonder if the weight accounts for this to some degree, although I'm not a 200+ lbs guy.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:51 AM
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I recently found the same thing with Strava and realized some guys around here are incredibly fast. It is kind of amusing that pretty much the only way it can compare you to other riders is on hills, where that's not a strong suit for many of us. They should do the same thing for some straightaways (with a tailwind ) for those of us that can put out large wattage on the flats.

I do like it for taking a look at the times of guys I race against. Then I can see who's peaking when and that I should not be on my butt when I could be doing intervals!
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Old 09-01-11, 12:01 PM
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You can define whatever segment you want... flats, downhills, etc. We have couple downhill segments on the normal group ride. Gives the big guys a chance to compete.
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Old 09-01-11, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by psuaero View Post
You can define whatever segment you want... flats, downhills, etc. We have couple downhill segments on the normal group ride. Gives the big guys a chance to compete.
Oh whoops. I'm guessing it's time for me to take the Edge out onto some of the more popular flats to see how I stack up.
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Old 09-01-11, 12:25 PM
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Wonder what kinda bike he rides.

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Old 09-01-11, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Rode to a personal PR on a training solo hill climb in my area (6 miles of continuous uphill.) Broke my old PR by almost 45 seconds over a 38 minute climb, which I was pretty happy about.

Uploaded my data to Strava, and it looks like I've been beaten by over 100 people, many of whom likely live in my immediate area on that very same climb.

Damn. So much for glory.
It's a PR for you. Not those other folks, not pros, nobody else. Quit yer whinin' - you beat the only person who matters.
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Old 09-01-11, 08:09 PM
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True - but I'll tell you that I'd feel a LOT more proud of my 'PR' if I were in the top group on Strava! (a complete impossibility.)
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Old 09-01-11, 08:21 PM
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Most important is that you beat your previous bests. Also important is how many people you were faster than. If 100 people were faster than you, but 900 were slower, I'd say you're kicking some a$$.
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Old 09-02-11, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Rode to a personal PR on a training solo hill climb in my area (6 miles of continuous uphill.) Broke my old PR by almost 45 seconds over a 38 minute climb, which I was pretty happy about.

Uploaded my data to Strava, and it looks like I've been beaten by over 100 people, many of whom likely live in my immediate area on that very same climb.
Damn. So much for glory.
Possible to see a link to your ride on Strava?
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Old 09-02-11, 05:37 PM
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I'm beating my climb records left and right without really trying, as I've never gone full on before for climbs. Found I was ~23 out of over 230. Not bad for being on a bike I found in the trash! The thing that sucks is that the MUP that I ride daily has been flagged to be "dangerous." I can only see my times (which are really slow now since I can only use my small ring). While I agree that people flying down trying to be top could be dangerous, bikers should always exercise reasonable restraint. I would have been interested to see what the fastest "safe" speed was. For me, it was around 19 mph "down" and 16 "up" on a 12 mile course
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Old 09-02-11, 05:55 PM
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My Strava stats were:
8 mph 152 bpm 246 w VAM=983 37:19
Montebello Road from bottom to gate (uphill only) - 5.2 miles, 7.2% avg incline, 2000 ft elevation change. It's a steady climb - no descents.


The power calculation is a Strava calculation - not powermeter. I think they have some formula based on incline and weight which you enter (155 for me) but I'm not sure how accurate it is.
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Old 09-02-11, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by justkeepedaling View Post
I'm beating my climb records left and right without really trying, as I've never gone full on before for climbs. Found I was ~23 out of over 230. Not bad for being on a bike I found in the trash! The thing that sucks is that the MUP that I ride daily has been flagged to be "dangerous." I can only see my times (which are really slow now since I can only use my small ring). While I agree that people flying down trying to be top could be dangerous, bikers should always exercise reasonable restraint. I would have been interested to see what the fastest "safe" speed was. For me, it was around 19 mph "down" and 16 "up" on a 12 mile course
What's your VAM as calculated by Strava? That's probably the best 'absolute' measure you can get short of a dedicated power number of your climbing prowess.
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Old 09-02-11, 06:05 PM
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I have KOM everywhere in my town. It helps to be almost alone in my town to use strava.
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Old 09-02-11, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by alexvpaq View Post
I have KOM everywhere in my town. It helps to be almost alone in my town to use strava.
at QC? I find that hard to believe but thanks for the laugh.
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Old 09-03-11, 06:31 AM
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Why would it matter what method they use? As long as it applies to everybody, it is still relative. Time/distance etc..are still pretty much standard to calculate a bunch of stuff with other information, like grade, wind and so forth...the modeling is almost endless.
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Old 09-03-11, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by zigmeister View Post
Why would it matter what method they use? As long as it applies to everybody, it is still relative. Time/distance etc..are still pretty much standard to calculate a bunch of stuff with other information, like grade, wind and so forth...the modeling is almost endless.
It matters mainly to compare rider performance across DIFFERENT routes. For example, when someone says that they're KOM on Strava on a beater bike, and maintaining 16mph on the uphill sections, there's either one of two possibilities:

- This guy climbs faster than the fastest pro riders who climbed my 7% avg incline route (who maxxed at 14mph, not 16), and on a beater bike no less
- The route chosen is far less hilly than they think and as well the rider strength in their locale is far less than it is in my locale on Strava

At least when you use Strava's "VAM" (velocity ascended), it controls somewhat for incline. So climb a 22% incline at 6mph, get a high VAM , or climb a 4% incline at 10mph and get a slightly lower VAM. That way, even if you have weaker climbers in your area, you can still compare on Strava to riders who are far away and doing climbs different than the ones you have done. Far from perfect, but better than relying on simple time/distance when comparing different routes.
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Old 09-03-11, 01:12 PM
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I don't know what my VAM is, I'm not using a heart rate monitor and frankly have no idea how to get Strava to calculate it. All I know is that for a very short hill, I can put the hammer down, even without clips and on a 23-24 lb steel bike. Just beat my old time by 3 seconds and frankly, could have done it a gear higher (I have downtube shifters so fiddling around to shift when hammering isn't the best idea). I lost 7 seconds only at the end because I wasn't able to go out of the saddle in the drops, my gearing was too low. I would say that I'm around CAT 4 level (never raced, but rode with tons of Davis team cyclists). I actually suck at climbing, but I can pull off a nasty sprint, and I just imagine these short hills as a sprint training session. Would actual be nicer for me to climb in the big ring out of the saddle, but as I broke a tooth on that 53 chainring, I'll have to make do with the small.
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