Okay, be honest now. How often do you get home from a ride and one of the first things you do is send your data to Strava or Map My Ride or Run Keeper etc? I know I do. I love checking out how well I have ridden and if I have any new segment records. In fact, I even moved from using the mobile apps to a cycling specific GPS device in order load more data like my heart rate and cadence to my favourite apps.
The best think about cycling, whether it be solo or with friends is the ride. It is always all about the ride! But for me, the next best thing is looking at my stats and realizing I have smashed a segment or beat a personal best. Talk about a sense of achievement. You share your data on Facebook and Twitter and wait for the comments, likes and kudos’ to come flying in. Then when someone says something like “wow, awesome ride” you get all modest or humble and reply with “I know, I didn’t think I’d ridden that well” or “I forgot there was even a segment there”. But you knew! It gives you a buzz and keeps you motivated.
On the other hand, if I don’t have a good ride or I get home only to find that my device hasn’t recorded the ride or the app has crashed or I have lost signal, I am like a (very) grumpy child. As an example I recently went out for my routine early Sunday morning ride. Although on this particular Sunday me and my legs were feeling good. I decided to ride a familiar route of about 40 miles. I chose this because I knew there were several Strava segments I could ‘go for’ and hit some PB’s. Please excuse my language but I rode my arse off and got back home feeling both fulfilled but also a little smug knowing I had ridden very well on a few key segments. The excitement to see my results was completely obliterated when the loaded data only showed half of my ride and a speed so ridiculous I would have had trouble keeping up in the car. “It doesn’t matter” my wife said seeing the disappointment in my face. Yet for some reason it did. At that precise moment (and for about 3 hours after) it really, really did matter! But why? It wasn’t like I would never ride that route again. So why is it that I have become so obsessed with my ride statistics that if I can’t record them accurately, I feel like I haven’t done the ride? It’s made worse but the fact the you know the stats were going to be good.
So is using a cycling or fitness app a good thing? Absolutely with out a doubt yes! I’m not saying that apps and stats and the technology which we use to record them are a bad thing if you’re not a Pro or you’re not training for an event or race. Goodness me no. In fact we have an ‘All About The Ride Strava Club‘ set up we like it so much. The likes of Strava, Endomondo and Run Keeper etc can be a real aid for improving you performance. I’ve been riding a while now and riding what I would call seriously for about the last 3 years. Since then I have been recording and analyzing my rides and have made massive improvements in my speed, endurance and technique when I cycle. Although it is good to remember not to get so hung up on the outcome of the results. Yes, the best way to improve in any sporting pursuit is to train hard and keep pushing yourself. But every once in a while, I think people forget to get their bike out and just ride it. For one ride don’t worry about segments, your average speed or elevation gained. Remember why you enjoy riding your bike (assuming that smashing your previous best isn’t the reason every time you ride).
I know why I love cycling and as cliché as it sounds, it really is ‘All About The Ride’!