I once wrote “Sessioning is not Strava.

And it isn’t, sessioning, stopping mid trail to push back up and practice a corner, drop or feature does not win PBs and KOMs. Or does it? Sure, on any particular ride a sessioned trail will sit you at a time of 20 to 30 minutes instead of 2:30 on Strava.

But surely its obvious, that never stopping to assess the trail, to practise specific skills and only riding the Strava race, is counter intuitive to progression? Inarguably Strava will make you faster, too a point, by encouraging you to attack and ride with the clock counting against you in your head.

But riding like this will only get you so far, you plateau as you ride the line you know rather than the best line. You ride on your subconscious rather than practising conscious efforts.

Again you could argue that setting a specific skills goal for a days ride, better body position, being less of a passenger on drops and rock gardens will make you better. But riding a full trail with goals like this is tiring and you will forget and revert to your ingrained riding style.

Also sessioning with friends and ideally, better riders, will encourage progression even further. When you are attempting a feature repeatedly by yourself, you cant see what your doing right and more importantly wrong. Watching more accomplished riders attacking the same trail that you are riding will show you better ways of riding, better lines and more dynamic riding styles.

The winter is a perfect time to develop your bike handling, the ground gets more challenging and your body english has a bigger part to play. No room for passengers in the slop.

In winter training, you traditionally think long boring rides and base miles. And whilst building fitness is important, so is building skills. Picking a specific type of feature and breaking down the body movements, technique and deliberately practising until it becomes an unconscious effort, rather than conscious effort, is where gains for the coming year will be made.

Ride without Strava sometime, see if you ride differently.


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Strava, its Complicated

Strava I love you but your bringing me down.

At first you understood, you were new and you were exciting but the longer you’ve been there the more complicated it has become. You made rides exciting and were a reason to explore and to try and better myself on the bike. You made it easy to equate that feeling of speed into actual performance gains, you encouraged a joined up type of riding, of keeping momentum and of going full gas when ever possible. You made me faster.


But as time has past, things became routine and the excitement ebbed, and you made me ride differently than I would have ridden if you weren’t there. You changed how I rode for good and for bad, you changed how others (myself included) acted and behaved, you never said I couldn’t ride like before but it was always implied.

A trail becomes a race on the internet, against people you don’t know.

I know the foundation and the driving force of our sports progress going right back to Repack has and always will be racing, but racing is an event with real people. Fighting for a KOM with a stranger on the internet started to feel more and more like trolling.

You took away the exploration, the hard work of the trail builder became exposed by the “social” aspect, of segments and heatmaps. No trail is secret, no trail knowledge is local. If you have ridden it someone has named a segment on it and if the ride isn’t on strava for all to see, then it just didn’t happen.

Strava meme Picard

You changed how I and others rode a trail, parts of a social ride that have been there since the beginning, that in fact made you a better rider were forgotten as the invisible clock in your head was always ticking. Forget the view, forget sublime moments of clarity, forget stopping to shoot the breeze with friends. Forget finding a great set of turns or drops and pushing back up mid trail to ride them again, the clock is always ticking.

Sessioning is not strava.

But you did help make me a faster, fitter rider, you helped me track rides and build on weaknesses, you let me see when I did better or when feeling fast was just cruising.

All of this said I, like Heath Ledger, wish I knew how to quit you, Happy valentines day strava, I’ll see you next time I go ride my bike.

My strava account is still active but a fairly serious affair with Veloviewer has been going on for a while. Strava doesn’t mind as it knows I will always come home to it.