Competing on Strava

I recently registered on Strava, a site for bikers (and runners) where you can upload your rides, as plotted by the gps. I’ve used Garmin Connect for that before (and still do), but Strava is so much more fun.

When you upload an activity, Strava matches it with other people’s activities on the same course. Not just the full course (that would be very few if any people), but segments of the course. Just a single ride on Tempelhof (or any ride on Tempelhof) will fit you into at least 20 different segments that have been named by their original creators: “One lap counterclockwise”, “Three laps clockwise”, “Northwest curve”, etc. Each of these segments have their own top list.

When I registered, I uploaded all my activities since 2011, and was automatically matched against the database of segments. It was very fun to see how I match up against the other riders. Here are some examples.

1. Tempelhof Airport, 5,9 km: 19/234 (37,6 km/h)


This is the most popular full lap segment: One lap counterclockwise. My record is 37,6 km/h which gives me place 19 out of the 234 persons who have biked exactly this segment.

Sometimes you aren’t matched with a certain segment (like this one) despite you know you have biked it. That is because you have diverted too much from the course, as first biked by the person who first uploaded and named it. Fortunately, on Tempelhof there are pink dots showing an exact 6 km lap around the airport, like this (photo from last year):

Tempelhof Airport Pink Dots (Rosa Punkte)

So that’s probably the reason why there are many runners who insist on running exactly on the pink dots instead of keeping to the right (where the road is narrower than on the above photo) – they are probably competing on Strava (or with themselves), and since every meter means more for runners than for bikers, they don’t want to diverge at all from the course.

2. Tempelhof again, 6,0 km: 4/61 (37,0 km/h)


This is almost the same course as the first one, but differing enough (6,0 instead of 5,9 km) to only catch 61 of the bikers, among which I am number 4.

3. Tempelhof 3 laps CW, 17,8 km: 4/30 (34,5 km/h)


This was yesterday. I almost always bike counterclockwise, but yesterday Pasculli was there and we biked three fast laps clockwise together until I gave up. So I was matched to another activity: “3 Runden rosa Punkte, Uhrzeigersinn”. Place 4 of 30.

4. Tempelhof NW-kurve, 800 m: 19/774 (47,9 km/h)


An 800 meter segment, where you can easily gain some speed if you have tailwind. 774 persons have passed this segment (it’s hard not to). My placement: 19. But now that I know that the segment exists I will try to get a faster time. I’ve often passed 50 km/h somewhere close to this stretch (yesterday with Pasculli for example), but not exactly where this segment is drawn.

5. Velothon segment, 1,1 km: 11/725 (41,9 km/h)


The Velothon course is full of Strava segments, and the persons who have biked them might have done so any of the years – or any regular day for that matter. Skalitzer Straße is my hood, so I got place 11 of 725 on that very stretch in Velothon 2013. (I ended up on place 298 of 4835 that year – counting men only.)

6. Velothon goal sprint, 600 m: 20/627 (44,5 km/h)


On the graph at the top you can see from where in the ride the segment is taken. This is at the end of Velothon 2013 (but also including racers from the other years) and I apparently had enough energy to reach place 20 of 627.

You can also search for segments on a map and quickly see how you match up against the leader (my personal record and the time difference to the leader are displayed):


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