But there is another side to Strava that we find incredibly useful for #seekingnewtrails and planning rides. In this first post of our new Apptastic series looking at the software we use regularly I’ll explain how we use it.
Most people use it primarily as a ride (or run) logging app. The genius then happens as you can see your segment times against other riders who have ridden in the same place with KOM or QOMs (King or Queen of the Mountains, top of the leader board) much revered and sought after titles.
To use it as a trail seeking and ride planning tool you will need to access the website as opposed to the phone app. To take advantage of all the features you will need a premium account.
So first up, if you havent already done so you will need to register for a basic account, head over to www.strava.com to do this.
As with any webbased service go and set up your privacy settings straight away. On the main website you will find them under the user account icon top right > Settings > Privacy (left side menu).
We have the enhanced privacy setting off, it allows others to see our rides and so learn the trails we enjoy. Everyone can see our Strava Labs Flyby activity. This is a good way of finding the Strava profiles of people you ride with.
VERY IMPORTANT is to set up your privacy locations for home and any other location you may leave your bike regularly (e.g. work). Not doing so would make it all to easy for theives to find your most treasured posession.
Lastly we allow our data to be included in the Strava Metro and Heatmaps. Local authorities use Strava Metro for planning purposes. In fact I’ve heard a Sydney planning guy quoted as saying its the only reliable data available so to this end we make a particular point of recording all our urban riding so an extra journey is included in the mix. The more people do this the more chance we have of improved cycling infastructure.
OK, then we are ready to look around.
It helps if you are ‘following’ some people and have logged some rides. To follow people have search for some of your riding buddies. I would be very very surprised if some people don’t use Strava already. Also download the app for your smart phone and get out there and log some rides.
To find new trails you need to first have an idea of where to look. If the area you are in is completely new to you then google will be your friend to start off with. All you need to do is identify some where on google maps as a starting point.
As an example lets look at a Dubai example. If I put “dubai mountain biking” into google www.xtremedubai.com/mtb-where-to-ride/ comes up top of the list, from there I find the Hot Cog MTB group and from there I find the Hot Cog MTB Showka Meet Point on Google Maps so I know there has to be riding round there.
Next we go to Strava but not to the main site, to the Strava Labs Heat Maps (Google will find it). Because the map is not searchable, unless you are looking for something on your doorstep, you will need to zoom out and scroll to the right area and zoom back in again. By doing this around the location I see on Google maps for the Hot Cog Showka Meet location I get to see this information in Strava Heat Maps
By comparing Google Maps and the Strava Heat Labs info I can see there are plenty of people riding off the roads and there is a trail network. There is an obvious ‘hot lap’ that shows up and you might just be happy taking this info and using it to navigate your way around. We have another couple of steps though that help us look at the riding the ‘locals’ are doing and help us access what could be the very best trails in the area.
So back to the main Strava webpage and from the top menu select Explore > Segment Explore. This will bring up a map and again you will probably need to zoom out, scroll and then zoom back in again.
In the segment explore map above we can see there is a mix of road and mtb segments, we just need to pick on of the mtb ones and view the details.
On the details page you will find the league table and KOM and QOM’s. Most important here are the dates next to them as they link to the Strava records of rides that generated the times listed. In this case we will look at the KOM holder Matt Shepherd’s ride but its worth looking at a few of the people on the league table to find something that might be more suitable, its not unkown for KOM rides to be done specifically to get a KOM and only attempt to grab a KOM so may not be the best riding.
So we can see that the activity page has all sorts of info. Distance, Moving Time and Elevation will give you a good indication if this is a ride you would like to emulate. You can zoom out on the map to get an overview of the whole ride.
Lastly (and very importantly) you can see on the image above, in the top right corner of the map, a GPX icon. This shows up for 2 reasons, a) I have a premium Strava account and b) the Strava athete (Matt in this case) has his privacy setting set to allow it. Using this icon I can download the GPX (GPS Exchange format) file which can be easily used with most navigation software and GPS units to enable you to easily navigate the same trails as Matt did on this ride. “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”
So by going through this process you can access the local knowledge of riders who are already riding in the area. Anyone who is on a segment leader board is very very very likely to have good local knowledge and be a prolific rider. As you use this method of #seekingnewtrails in an area you will quickly see regular names pop up that seem to ride the same kind of stuff you do too. Using the app and logging rides you will also see riders riding the same trails as you. Its worth following these athletes and exploring their feeds. With a Strava Premium account you will be able to just download the GPX file, upload it to your choosen device and easily go out and ride the same ride.
I hope you found this post useful and it gets you out there on cool new trails that you love. To keep up to date with future updates to our pages and posts we suggest following us. You can also like our page at facebook.com/seekerbikes/
Do bear in mind that just because someone else has ridden a trail does not mean it is legal or sanctioned to do so. Access can be a problem all over the world for a myriad of reasons. As always anywhere in the world if you treat the land, the flora and fauna and the people as you would expect people to treat you and yours most problems become significantly reduced.
#seekingnewtrails #seekingadventure #seekingflow