Back in the old days, I hated the idea of Strava, comparing it to this–which I regret now, but only because I feel bad for that poor creature who has nothing better all day because he’s locked up in an enclosure where people point at him all day.
Indeed, I hated Strava so much I even called for a no-Strava weekend after a cyclist killed a woman in Central Park. It was a huge local story (the cyclist killing the woman, not my stupid “no-Strava weekend” thing), and the New York Post even tracked me down on the phone and tried to get a comment from me on how much Freds suck. I didn’t talk to them, so they just quoted from my blog instead:
And with that, the first (and last) International #ostrava Weekend entered the
anals annals of history:
Many a Post reader no doubt agreed with the above sentiment, though only insofar as it applied to cyclists. Crossing against the light in front of a driver of course remains punishable by death in the mind of their readership, and indeed of most Americans.
Anyway, like most people who hate stuff on the Internet, I’d never actually tried the thing I hated, though eventually I got an account:
Not all my first impressions were borne out, and this in particular did not last:
I actually kinda like running (or at least the idea of running), but it hurt my body too much so eventually I gave up. When I used to help out in a bike shop at least once a day I’d get a middle-aged customer who was shopping for a bike because he or she couldn’t run anymore and needed to switch to a “low impact” form of exercise. For this reason, taking up running at around the time many people can no longer do it when your’e already a cyclist is pretty stupid–almost as stupid as taking up skateboarding again, which I also did until I found I was injuring myself on a bi-weekly basis. Anyway, idiots like me trying to relive their childhoods is no doubt why Strava eventually added skateboarding:
I did not incorporate Strava into my skatebaording, mostly because I couldn’t find a good place on the deck for a Wahoo mount.
Eventually, Strava won me over, and I was
man Fred enough to admit it:
Then the other day I got this:
I have no problem with Strava raising its price, or charging what they feel they need to charge for their service. Nobody needs Strava, and at $6.66 per month or whatever that works out to (EVIL!!!) it’s less than what people pay for music streaming services, which seems fair enough. However, what I had already begun to realize by the time I got the email was that, for me, the “motivational” aspect has begun to go sour:
To be clear, I never needed “motivation” to ride; it’s always been my default activity, and if I’ve got a free moment it’s the first thing I want to do. However, at least in my case, Strava kind of preys on that by giving you something to look at afterwards, which inflates your sense of satisfaction. For a long time I liked seeing all those rides stacking up week after week, in the same way you like to see regular deposits in your bank account. If your goal is to stay fit, this is a good thing, since it encourages you to be consistent. However, if you’re riding simply for the joy of it and the fitness is merely a happy side-effect, this can be a bad thing, since if you miss a deposit (that is to say a ride) those gaps kinda taunt you. (I believe the kids call that “FOMO.”) If I miss a ride it’s usually because I have something more important to do, not because I lacked sufficient motivation. Sometimes it can be hard to miss a ride, and I don’t need an app to make missing a ride even harder. At different points in your life you need to strike a different balance, and at this particular point in my own life I don’t need Strava being the kid shouting from outside to come out and play while I’m trying to do my homework.
It’s silly to denounce an app and say “I’M DONE WITH STRAVA AND I’LL NEVER USE IT AGAIN,” but the occasion of my subscription renewal seemed like as good a time as any to break the habit, or at least take a break from it. So that’s what I’m doing. While I wasn’t Strava-ing “normal” riding (going to the store, riding to soccer games with my son, that sorta thing), I have Strava-ed pretty much every longer ride I’ve taken since signing up for an account. So when I headed out yesterday Strava-free I realized how deeply engrained in my routine it had become. It felt strange not to hit “Start” on a device, and not to hear a little auto-pause sound when I stopped somewhere for awhile. When you’re riding while connected to an app, in the back of your mind you’re always aware that you’re recording something someone else will see, and the fact that it felt strange not to be doing that was kind of unsettling. I mean sure, as a blogger I’ve always been a masturbating monkey, but as far as riding goes it’s probably time to re-learn how to close the door first.
The above notwithstanding, as I mentioned not too long ago, I do appreciate the convenience of GPS. So I’m certainly not forswearing computers or apps or anything like that, and will no doubt experiment with others when I need to steal a route from somebody or share one with someone else. But when an app starts calling you a “Local Legend” just for riding your bike…
…that’s kind of a wake-up call.