Watch: Top five Strava cheats (video)

Struggling to get your name at the top of that elusive KOM or QOM on your favourite online ride-logging service?
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We’ve heard rumours that some riders employ underhand tactics to put their name at the top of the leaderboard of their local Strava segments.

Some riders struggle for days, weeks or even months to try and beat their local rivals on key KOM segments. These can be taken with hard work and persistence – but sometimes the temptation of needing a bit of assistance can be overwhelming to those who lack certain moral standards.

Obviously, we’d never condone such cheating behaviour, but in order to highlight this nefarious activity we’ve put together a brief guide to some of the ways in which unscrupulous individuals try and beat the opposition.

1. Motorpacing

Getting a friend to let you draft behind their vehicle can provide a way to improve your speed and therefore segment times. Think of all those pro riders who tuck in behind team vehicles as they try to catch up with the peloton after an untimely mechanical. Of course, your friend has to be aware of how fast you can actually go and this tactic can go badly wrong if they speed off. Worse still is if they brake heavily, leaving you with no room to manoeuvre. So, maybe not…

2. Throw your Garmin

This is a bit extreme, and could very well result in the rider breaking or losing their GPS-enabled bicycle computer. The idea is that you put in maximum effort to within striking distance of the end of the segment, then deftly lob your computer as hard and as fast as you can to give an amazing turn of finishing speed. Obviously, if your Garmin is subsequently broken or lost then your effort will have been entirely wasted.

3. Wait for the wind

“No one ever took a KOM into a headwind”. So make the wind your friend, and plot your assault on segments by carefully matching up the direction of the wind and the direction of the segments you are targetting. A helpful tailwind can make all the difference in bumping up your average speed, particularly on flatter sections.

>>> Which town has the UK’s fastest cyclists? These Strava stats reveal the answer…

4. Just drive

Taking motorpacing to it logical conclusion, you just dispense with your bike all together and mount your Garmin on the dashboard of a car or handlebars of a motorbike and go for a ‘ride’. The secret here is to keep the speed at something nearing a reasonable, realistic level, so that you are not instantly flagged for “activity was in a vehicle”.

5. Use an eBike

Now that electric bikes have become more commonplace – and cheaper – the temptation has grown for riders to use some electric assistance in claiming segments. If you get an eBike with electric assist, then at least some of the effort is yours. And it looks like you are riding a bike, too. So it’s not fully cheating. Is it?

Remember, though, you’re really only cheating yourself.