1. Strava Local
New to a city and want to find the most popular local loops? Then Strava Local (opens in new tab) is your friend. These city guides are now available for 12 cities across the world (including London), with local experts taking the data from over 38 million activities to map out the best routes and cafe stops.
For London there are currently ten different suggested cycling routes, ranging from a testing 67km route around the Surrey Hills to the iconic London to Brighton Return, starting and finishing in Richmond Park. What's more, each route comes with a recommended cafe stop (or three), so you're never going to go hungry on your ride.
2. Top Stops
Although Strava Local gives a handful of London cafes for you to get your teeth into, it's not quite on the same level of Top Stops (opens in new tab), a Strava Labs project currently only covering the area around San Francisco.
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This map takes stops of over two minutes on Strava activities and matches them to Foursquare venues, creating a map of the most popular places to stop on rides. So this can mean cafe stops, places to meet for a ride, or just good views that warrant a couple of minutes stood at the side of the road to take a photo and upload it to Instagram.
3. The Clusterer
However, if you're the sort of rider who would prefer to avoid the crowds, then why not check The Clusterer (opens in new tab), a project that brings together similar routes of similar distances, and shows you the most popular time of day, day of the week, and month of the year for each particular route.
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This means that if you want to ride a popular route but don't want to do it with hundreds of other cyclists, then you can click on one of the routes, see the days and times on which its most popular, and plan accordingly.
4. Route Builder
Ok, so you probably did know that you could create routes on Strava, but you might not realise quite how clever the route builder. While other similar systems simply pick the shortest route possible between two given points, Strava uses its huge amount of data to direct you along the most popular roads, making sure you get the best ride possible.
What's more, if you're feeling a bit lazy then you can always click the minimum elevation option to create a route that avoids the hills as much as possible. The only thing we need now is a maximum elevation option for when a big day of training is on the agenda.
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Want to know who that guy is that always overtakes you on the morning commute? Or the name of the new rider on the weekend club run? Well you can, just by clicking on the "View Flyby" (opens in new tab) button located just below the name of your ride, which will take you to a list of riders who were riding on the same roads as you at a similar time for any given activity.
What's more, Flyby can offer a great ego boost if you're overtaken towards the end of your ride. A quick look will tell you that the person who overtook you had only left home five minutes ago and was only riding ten miles anyway, so you can still hold your head up high.
6. Suffer Score
If you have Strava Premium then you'd have seen the Suffer Score that is attributed to each of you activities, but what does it actually mean? Basically this analyses the amount of time that you've spent in each of your heart rate zones to put a number to the level of suffering that you've gone through to finish a ride.
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The great thing about this is that because it is based on heart rate and not power, it allows you to compare your level of suffering to what the pros go through on a Tour de France stage. So in your head at least, you've had some of the experience of being a Tour rider.
7. Fitness & Freshness Graph
If you want to take a more scientific approach to your training, then Strava is offering more and more tools for detailed analysis. One of the best is the Fitness and Freshness chart, which is similar to the Performance Management Chart offered by Training Peaks, and tracks your fitness, fatigue, and most importantly form over time.
Best used in conjunction with a power meter, this tool allows you to balance your training with that vital recovery to make sure you hit your target events in the best shape possible, and also lets you compare yourself to see how you stack up compared to previous years.
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