Cycling

Strava GPS Tracker

Strava-Logo
As with this and future reviews, I’ll never go by a star-rating system, as I find them too subjective and people tend to pay attention to the # of stars as opposed to the content of the review.  My basic format: brief write-up/opinion/how it relates to my needs; followed by pros and cons.

This review relates to the Strava app used in conjunction with iPhone & Android.

I’m with a huge segment of the “mobile community” that’s addicted to gadgets and they stats they produce. I typically run and ride alone, therefore the main person I’m competing with is myself.  Although I enjoy being part of an online-community whose stats can be compared in friendly competition, I’m going to start this review with the biggest cons coming out of the Strava-sphere:

CON#1:
PEOPLE CHEAT!  I’ve run and ridden in Central Park countless times. People in the Strava community have times clocked at over 60MPH.  It’s just not possible – not even in a car.  I don’t want to know how it’s done.  I don’t care.  I just choose to bypass the whole “competing with the online community” aspect  of the app.
CON#2:
People ride a little too reckless in order to beat their stats. Personally, I’m OK with this, as I myself am extremely alert and usually ride at similar speeds.  But most pedestrians just don’t pay attention. NYC in particular is a bad place for this: 1st level of obliviousness to their surroundings goes to American tourists. 2nd (higher) level goes to foreign tourists. God bless them, but they have NO idea what’s going on around them, let alone the awareness to notice a bike coming at them at 20-30MPH.
CON#3:
– This isn’t a con for me, but I’ve heard many accuse [apps of this nature] of taking the soul/enjoyment out of riding.  To be fair, I can see how this applies. Going back to Con#2, when all your focused on is building stats/beating records, it can easily take the enjoyment out of the ride. I’ve fallen victim to this, but I’m OK with it since my major reason behind cycling is to improve fitness.  However to keep the fun aspect in tact, I try to separate the two; allowing for riding segments where I just sit back and take it easy.

PRO#1:
– Can be used for either running or riding. I do both, however I have so much time & mileage invested in my Nike+ app, I only use Strava for riding.

PRO#2:

– The web interface is very well-done; easy to navigate. I love seeing my stats. Love competing with myself.

PRO#3:
Works great with iPhone and Android. I just throw a simple device-mount on my handlebars and it’s smooth sailing from there. GPS links up right away in both city and the burbs. Interface on mobile apps is equally impressive. Interactive maps, achievement trophies, etc
Strava

PRO#4:
– I love this aspect:  as you pass certain segments during your ride, it automatically places you in the running with others who’ve ridden that segment. You get to see where you place in comparison – and you always have the opportunity to move into that #1 position.

It’s definitely worth using if the above appeals to you.  The good FAR outweighs the bad. And motivation to improve your stats will always result in better fitness; better health — as long as you ride carefully.

All of the above applies to the FREE VERSION. CLICK HERE to see what the PREMIUM (paid) VERSION offers.

Strava Main Page
Supported GPS Devices

 

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“THE IRON AGE” – Bicycling Magazine Article 7/12/2012 -Jens Voight

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This is an article worth reading from Bicycling magazine that targets people in the +/-40 age group.
The article is obviously geared toward cycling, however its wording is easily interchangeable with martial arts; more specifically, its anaerobic demands.

http://www.bicycling.com/blogs/hardlyserious/iron-age

“I have been thinking so much about age this year because I turned 40, and a big crop of young future stars is in the pack now. Getting older makes cycling harder in some ways, but I have also realized there are some surprising benefits. Here’s a little of both for you to think about.

1. Getting in shape takes longer. When you are 21, you progress quickly. After just one week of hard training you feel improvement. Things don’t happen quite so quickly when you get older, so you need more time preparing for your goals.

2. You have to train specifically to maintain bursts of speed. The older you get, the slower you get. You lose fast-twitch muscle fibers as you age. Do more sprint training! You need short power workouts—painful, highly anaerobic intervals that work on high-end speed. I was never a sprinter, but the ability comes in handy at other times, like when you accelerate sharply to try to get into a breakaway. I like to do a series of six 30-second all-out sprints with a two-minute recovery. Oh, do they rip the hell out of my legs!

3. You must sleep more. The older you get, the more you have little aches and pains, and recovery from them is slower. Good sleep makes a big difference. I’m talking ideally about a full night of sleep without interruption (with a house of six kids I know I am asking for a lot here), but eight hours total works for me. Also: Sleep before midnight is more important than sleep in the morning hours.

4. You have to stretch. Your old body, or at least mine, gets stiff like a piece of wood. The benefits of stretching won’t be immediately apparent (and actually are sometimes≠ quite painful) but over time you will notice you feel better. I am no flexibility maniac like Stuart O’Grady, but I work some simple flexibility routines into my day when I am brushing my teeth or waiting≠ for a bus or cab. My favorite stretches involve the calf and lower back.

5. You really, really are what you eat. When I was younger I could eat anything. And to be honest I had no choice. As part of the East German sports-school system, I lived in a dormitory and always ate cafeteria food full of starches and chemicals. Now I notice a difference in my riding when I’m eating fresh food and buying food from a controlled farm or region where there are no chemicals. The downside is that this food does not last very long at all. The old East German boxed milk would last for three months!

THE BENEFITS

1. You know your body. I used to ignore what my body was trying to tell me—I was sure I could ride through problem times. Now I know that when my body is telling me to stop—day after day, not like in a race when my legs are complaining—it means it. Take a rest.

2. You’ve stopped wasting time looking for the easy way out. With age you realize there is no magic shortcut, no way to make cycling less painful, no way to make an intense interval workout not intense. That’s wisdom! Only pedaling and painful training makes you better.

3. You have developed the best work ethic. If you are still riding when you reach an age like this, it is because you love the sport. You love it enough to not give half an effort. It is like you want to honor the sport with your performance. That’s something kids can’t really understand.

4. You can deal with defeat. Losing never tastes good, but it does become easier to digest. I think this comes from life outside racing. Live long enough and at some point you have to deal with a crisis that is much more serious than what any of us do on a bike. At least I know I have, and such experiences put race results in perspective.

5. You are more cut than the kids. I admit that this is the advantage I love the most. An older rider is leaner and more ripped than those who are still carrying baby fat around their hips!”