It was 2010 and I signed up for the latest web service but unlike most of the signups this did not offer 140 characters to express my feelings, it was a new service called Strava. Back then Strava was pretty new, having only emerged a few years prior but it was gaining traction in the fitness arena, in particular cycling.
To me, Strava started as a digital logbook of my activities on the bike. Each week I would check to see how far I cycled and compare this on a leaderboard of local riders. Clearly the natural progression was to segments and the next level of comparison. I would target local segments and try and beat riders I knew.
My life had become all about the average speed and nothing else mattered.
During the purchase of my White 29 mountain bike I passionately told the sales assistant about my Strava conquests. He was not overly impressed and suggested I pin on a number instead; what did he know!
Roll the clocks forward a few years, and I was training with power and just started racing and yes, I was still uploading rides to Strava. This time I was not so much bothered by my segments; I had been introduced to the racing side of the cycling world and I soon realised just how small I was. The average speed was also a thing of the past; speed meant nothing, I saw it only as a by-product of my cycling.
What value was Strava giving me? Social, it was all about social networking.
It was April 2020 and the whole World had been thrown into turmoil and life was changing by the day. I was trying to ride when I could but on my own, in my own little ‘bubble’.
Strava had now become a negative experience. Every page load was a reminder of the situation in hand. My life was upside down, the family stuck at home whilst I was still working; if you could call it that. The shop door was closed, so I only had service bikes to talk to. Yet I was still checking in on Strava, just trying to torment myself further.
Today I have removed Strava from my phone. Set up a redirect rule on my laptop to prevent loading the site and disabled all email notifications. It has been the most liberating experience and after three months I do not miss the service. Well, I miss seeing the rides from the likes of Phil Gaimon but no doubt he will ‘gram them anyway.