I am a flatlander. I have few climbs around me and the ones I do are minimal and pale in comparison to the true climbs and challenges that test most Strava athletes. This weekend I decided to record my first ride in over 3 months. It’s not just any ride, but one of the regular rides I used to do with my brother when over 20 years ago back in “the D”. The ride is a loop that encircles a man-made lake and quite beautiful little local park area. What I love about this ride is what the Strava score really illustrates. At a glance the mapped out route echos the shape of the Ebola virus. And the topography map is amazingly similar to an EKG heart rate recording. Looking at this recording can tell you more about the ride than what you will ever see by looking at any scores and times.
I had ridden almost 55 miles but my time was nothing impressive. This weekend many friends and teammates of mine raced to some amazing results while I lumbered along this same loop of road 8 times over. There are no KOM’s and all the PR’s are due to this being my first recorded ride on this route. I have a love/hate relationship with Strava. Because it doesn’t lie. No matter how well I do during the middle of the ride it tells me I started too slow, or took too many softer recovery miles or failed to keep the consistent pace I was shooting for. It also tells me that no matter how much I have been training I am not tracking with my goals. Actually I did not need Strava to tell me that.
Ironically, I did achieve a few goals during the ride. My first goal was to escape. I spent almost 3 hours escaping some very heavy and challenging thoughts about my father and his ailing mind and health. This does not show up on any Strava score. My second goal was not to get passed. No matter what I decided that even if I had to toss out the grappling hook I would not drop any wheel. After easing my pace a bit, and hoping for a riding partner, I allowed a rider to catch me After easing back into my saddle and looking for a strong yet sustainable tempo. I shifted up, a eased into a smooth stroke, and picked it up a bit, but he pulled off at the first parking lot we arrived at. Really? I just wanted to pick up the pace and share some work but no takers. My third goal was to keep a steady pace. Barring my warm-up and cool down miles I think I succeeded. 45 solo miles in 2 hrs. It was a good time for me till I averaged out with warm up, cool down miles. It also tells me I was need to be more selective of when I activate my Strava.
For now I will not record another ride. For each time it disappoints me as I fall short of my expectations. It may be my distorted belief that my efforts and training miles will finally pay off in a surprisingly improved score. But thinking about my score always detracts from the value of the ride itself, and for me what really matters should be the ride and the time I spend in the saddle. There is no way to score a 25 mph roll on a perfectly smooth section of asphalt during sunny 8 am ride. Especially with a slight tailwind.