Gear Review – Strava

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a bit of a geek. I love my gadgets.

In the past, I’ve posted an entry about Runkeeper and as I’ve recently changed back to an Android phone after a year with WP7, I thought it was as good a chance as any to try out the new “big thing” in GPS logging apps, Strava.

As well as being available in the respective app stores for Apple iOS and Android smartphones, Strava also supports standalone GPS devices such as Garmin’s range of Edge cycle computers and Forerunner running watches. This is handy if you plan on doing long rides, as running the in-built GPS of most smartphones can have a dramatic effect on battery life. This is obviously A Bad Thing if you then get stranded with a mechanical and can’t call for help! Unfortunately these devices don’t come cheap: the entry level Edge 200 starts at about £115, and the top-of-the-range Edge 800 is a whopping £400.

(Santa, if you’re reading this – I’ve been a good boy this year, and I’d really like an Edge 200. Pretty please?)

The app itself, on Android at least, is fantastically easy to use. Upon loading, you’re presented with a big red “record” button. Press it, put your phone in your pocket, and start pedalling. When you get home, press the button again and Strava will upload your route to the web interface. Here, as well as the phone apps, you can also find a bunch of stats on your riding such as total distance, altitude climbed, and that kind of stuff.

Strava’s key social feature, however, is its concept of “segments”. It’s definitely one for the more competitive among you! It picks out selected parts of common routes and maintains a leader-board of quickest times. These are commonly climbs up hilly routes, and the current leaders get virtual “King Of The Mountain” badges. It’s immature willy-waving, sure, but a little competition can also be a good training motivator for aspiring racers.

Unfortunately the Strava KOM badge for Hackpen Hill is currently held by a UK Youth pro rider, so fat chance of me getting anywhere close!

Strava is a free app (premium also available, it seems) for Android, Apple iOS and at www.strava.com.

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