By Stefan Abram published
Strava, the activity tracking app which is almost synonymous with cycling, has just unveiled its “biggest app update of the year.” Mapping functionality sees a major revamp, while a new Group Challenges feature is being introduced.
Strava’s mapping functionality is having a fundamental reshape. Now, all things relating to Segments and Routes can all be found together in one place.
The Maps tab, which can be found on the bottom panel in the Strava app, now has personalised Segment recommendations to “help athletes plan the kind of run or ride they want”.
By combining two of Strava’s most popular subscription features in one place – Routes and Segments – it is hoped that athletes will be able to discover “new places to be active as well as compete against their own personal best and the wider community”.
To facilitate this, Segments are being organised into six personalised categories:
- Visit popular spots: A sampling of the most popular segments in the area.
- Discover new places: Popular segments in the area you haven’t matched to yet.
- Break your record: The segments where you’re close to beating your personal record.
- Climb the leaderboard: Segments where you’re close to getting a top 10 spot on the leaderboard.
- Go for a workout: Find nearby tracks, areas for interval training, and other areas where the community trains.
- Become a legend: Segments where you’re close to becoming the Local Legend.
Those who are using the free version of Strava will still be able to browse the “Most Popular” Segments and view all items in the “Saved” tab. However, Strava does go on to say that “non-subscribers will be prompted to trial or subscribe to unlock all of Strava’s map tools” – which is only to be expected.
You will now be able to invite up to 24 friends from around the world to take part in a bit of friendly competition, across a range of metrics. As Strava points out, this “will provide the opportunity to recapture personal triumph by competing with and against fellow Strava athletes”.
Of the competitive formats available, there will be:
- Most Activity: The goal can be fixed for a certain cumulative time, distance or elevation gain achieved over a certain period. The leaderboard will rank athletes by their overall activity
- Fastest Effort: The goal, as the title suggests is to achieve the fastest average speed over a set distance via running, virtual running or wheelchair. The leaderboard will rank runners by their fastest average pace achieved over that distance, within the timeframe.
- Longest Single Activity: Again, doing largely what it says on the tin, the goal here it to set the greatest distance in a single activity. You’ll have the option to set a minimum distance, to draw something of a line in the sand, and the leaderboard will rank athletes by the greatest distance they achieved within the timeframe.
Strava is aware that part of what makes sports fun – and what drives us to improve – is the camaraderie and competition provided by our peers. Like the Strava Challenges that are already a part of the platform – and have had huge takeup – Group Challenges, it is hoped, will help provide a motivating sense of community.
It’s worth noting that the Group Challenges feature will be private and can only be viewed by other participants. Only athletes who are part of the challenge will be able to keep track of progress, see how other athletes are doing and view photos from the challenge.
Strava has been conducting research into the ways athletes create motivation and it found that “athletes who join a challenge are about 2.5 times more active than athletes who did not join a challenge (moving time per month)”.
Also, “72 percent of athletes who joined a joined a challenge in September were active (uploading) six months later.”
Those who are members of large cycling clubs – or just have a great many friends – will likely be frustrated by the fact that Group Challenges are limited to only 25 athletes (you, plus 24 others). For the time being, that limit looks set to stay in place, although CW understands that there may be an expansion down the line.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.