Strava seems to be the most popular way to break bones these days. EVERY ride is a race with this free service that tracks the ride via GPS device and then posts the results online, complete with a map showing where the ride occurred.

Just when you think you’re the fastest person to descend Caney Bottom your buddy sees your time, rides that night, and bumps you to second place. All Strava members have the capacity to see whose been riding, how fast, and how often. It even breaks it down to how many miles have been ridden this year, cumulative time and elevation-gain. It has a category for all-time biggest ride, biggest climb and maximum effort as well as averages.

It’s fun to link in with the pro riders in the area to see their favorite loops. I also stare in wonder at the numbers reflecting how many hours per week they are in the saddle – 16 hours? I’m lucky to get that much sleep in the average week. Elevation gain for the year: 139,000 feet?!

Secret training will begin as people try to beat each other’s times, flipping the GPS on only when feeling strong and fast. Perfect riding conditions will inspire the competition into dashing out of the office with the “mystery flu.” People will keep their bikes on the roof at all times in case there’s an opportunity to ride. As an aside, there may be more drive-thru and parking deck accidents as people get used to having their bikes on the roof racks every day.

Is all of this competition good or bad?  We are seeing a new generation of adults who were raised thinking everybody is a winner. Something like Strava helps them understand just how untrue that can be. Nobody is handing out participation ribbons in this arena. You own your time, and everyone can see how often you’ve been hitting the trails. Unless of course the stress isn’t worth it and you leave the GPS in the car.

Those with the competitive itch can’t get enough. Take Tom, who decided to be the winner by nightfall and busted out a quick loop after work. I’m not sure if he won, but he certainly was in the ER that night with a separated shoulder.

One wife tells me that her husband is so obsessed with Strava that she now worries every time he goes out on a ride. She used to worry about him on race days. Now she can stress multiple times per week about being the only one to take responsibility for the kids. Of course then she broke her back in a zipline incident. Maybe he’s turned Strava off for a few weeks while she heals?

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