Canadian Cycling Magazine

Why I Should Quit Strava

And why I won’t

- Matthew Pioro Editor

When I scroll through Strava, I have to roll my eyes when I see kudosfishi­ng. It’s akin to the sadfishing that happens on social media platforms, exaggerati­ng emotional distress for attention. On Strava, kudosfishi­ng is a ride titled, “Oh man, coach said to do this 2x20 workout, so hard, didn’t think I could do it.” It’s silly. My reaction, too, is silly. But these aren’t the reasons I should ditch Strava. We give Strava plenty of data. In exchange for that data, we get to use its services. That’s how Google and Facebook work. In the past 20 years, we decided (or we were convinced) that giving our informatio­n away for access to these apps was worth it. Yet for all the data Strava gets and what the company learns about us – for example, in 2019, Colnago C64 riders rode farther, on average, than owners of other bikes – Strava would still like us to pay for its Summit features. One “feature” is simply the ability to see the power data you just uploaded. I’m not talking about some analysis of those power numbers. No. Just the numbers. As a non-summit user, I can’t see my power data on my phone. Another Summit user, however, can. A study came out of York University i n late 2018 that looked at the effects of social media on 118 women between the ages of 18 and 27. They filled out questionna­ires about appearance and body-image perception­s. Then they commented or liked photos of people they considered attractive. “The results showed that these young adult women felt more dissatisfi­ed with their bodies,” said Jennifer Mills, an associate professor in the department of psychology who conducted the study with Jacqueline Hogue. “They felt worse about their own appearance after l ooking at social media pages of someone that they perceived to be more attractive than them. Even if they felt bad about themselves before they came into the study, on average, they still felt worse after completing the task.” I suspect there’s something similar going on within Strava.

A local rider I know who logs an enviable amount of kilometres per week admitted he can get fomo. He said that after a great 70-km ride, he might see how some other friends did at 150-km ride, which gives rise to the feeling that he didn’t ride enough. When he was injured and off the bike, he couldn’t look at Strava because he felt like he was falling behind. What surprised me the most is that he seemed so Zen about all the Strava nonsense, yet even with his clear view of the app and its effects, they could still wear on him.

I know I’m complicit in all of this. I posted all my rides in Switzerlan­d (p.58). I posted a few of my test rides on the De Rosa Merak (p.46) because I, in effect, wanted to say, “Look. Cool bike. We all like cool bikes, right?” Was I kudosfishi­ng with these posts? That wasn’t my intention, but it might have seemed that way. I don’t know what effects they might have had.

So, will I actually quit Strava? No. It’s how I learned Rob Britton (p.56) was bikepackin­g in Japan. I then had the idea to ask him about his equipment. I like how I can learn about new places to ride in my area as others go exploring. There are some connection­s I have only on Strava that I wouldn’t want to lose.

I should, however, probably check Strava a little less, relax and j ust enjoy my rides.

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