Participation Trophies

I love Strava. I am happy to pay the $60/year it costs to unlock all of its features. The amount of data there is incredible: power curves, heat maps, heart rate numbers, feet of climbing.

And segments. A Strava segment is a stretch of road that your GPS measures your time over. Some segments are short; the Wallace Lake Sprint is about 600 feet long. My PR (Personal Record) is 22 seconds. The Stelvio pass is also a segment: 15 miles and 5800 feet uphill. That one took me 2 hours 48 minutes.

Strava creates leader boards for segments. The fastest time is the KOM. This translates to ‘King of the Mountain’, since most segments are uphill. But you can be the KOM even on a segment as flat as Pezzi Road if you have the fastest time, which I don’t.

I actually did have a couple of KOM’s for a while, although my best times have since been eclipsed. But if you look over my segments you will find some times that might not be really impressive, but will at least require most cyclists to ride pretty hard to surpass.

And since Strava keeps a separate leader board for the Stockton Bicycle Club, I find that I have the fastest time among our members on a couple of local favorites. Here is the proof as of yesterday:

Of course, most of our members do not even know these leader boards exist, and I’m pretty certain my club KOM’s will disappear whenever some of our stronger riders make an effort. Although on the mini climb my power meter said I did 511 watts for 43 seconds, so at least they might have to breath hard.

I’m pretty sure my PR’s and KOM’s , club or otherwise, are behind me. Age cannnot wither me, but it sure can slow me down. But fear not, Strava has come up with something new: The Local Legend! You get one of these trophies by being the cyclist who completes the most attempts on a particular segment during the past 90 days. All the “Local Legend” award cares about is how many, not how fast.

I just got a couple of e mails informing me that I had won an award!

It’s My Participation Trophy, Not Stoker’s!

Be Still My Heart…I’ll Try to Stay Humble

All this means is that I crossed an obscure stretch of road and uploaded the data to Strava more than anyone else over the last 3 months. I didn’t ride hard or fast, or even for any very long distances, to ‘win’ these ‘titles’. They were effortless, and therefore meaningless.

Strava is run by much younger and more tech savvy people that me, and I imagine they grew up in the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ era. Thus Strava is moving in that direction with awards and challenges that require persistence but not necessarily effort.

So if you too want to find yourself as a Local Legend, simply pick a short segment and do it 5 or 6 times on a weekly ride. No one will ever displace you and Strava will send you a congratulatory e mail.

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