A Guide to Strava Racing

In a sense, everything and everyone on Strava is racing. Every ride is a race. Strava times your rides and segments and ranks them. Even if your Strava account and/or segments are entirely private, you’re still racing yourself to a degree.

Almost every cyclist knows what Strava is. If you don’t know exactly what Strava is you can read our summary of it here.

This Race Guide is a bit different to the usual Race Guides in that it’s about virtual racing. We’re not talking about Virtual Reality and big helmets and Lawnmower Man.

Strava racing is still real humans racing each other (and themselves) on real roads and trails. The difference is that the ‘racing’ is not done all at the same time. It’s individuals riding the same segment on different days and times, with a leaderboard that’s always changing as and when the new results come in.

Everyone’s a racer

In a sense, everything and everyone on Strava is racing. Every ride is a race. Strava times your rides and segments and ranks them. Even if your Strava account and/or segments are entirely private, you’re still racing yourself to a degree.

You can try and deny it but the fact that you use Strava in the first place tells its own story.

Anyway, all Strava is racing so let’s talk about goals rather than races.

strava challengesStrava has Challenges. These are either individual-set goals that only apply to yourself, or they can be communal goals or challenges that any member of Strava can join and attempt.

Challenges are usually based on monthly targets ie. ride 500km in a month, but they can also be based to coincide with the duration of an event and be themed as such ie. a Tour De France themed Challenge.

Strava has a Monthly Training Series (or MTS) where you sign up and input your own target for the month. They have official recognition badges/icons for totals of 250km or more.

Another fairly recent series are the Gran Fondo Challenges. Again based monthly but the goal is to manage a single long distance ride (often 130km) before the end of the month.

There are also sometimes Challenges based on total number of hours ridden, frequency of rides and amount of climbing done.

The prizes on offer for the winners of Strava’s own Challenges vary from a simple awarding of a virtual badge/icon through to real world prizes such as jerseys or water bottles. The prizes are never massively valuable, in keeping with Strava’s have-a-go amateur-centric ethos.

Cycling Clubs on Strava can also run their own virtual races. We here at Merlin Cycles have a Strava Club. We’re aiming to set up some Challenges on there for the Club members. There’s likely to be some prizes involved for those riders who do well in the Challenges.

Some cheeky tips for racing on Strava

1. Use a proper GPS device. Lots more accurate than a Smartphone.

2. Put in extra effort when it’s dry and you’ll get more PBs and KOMs compared to when it’s wet.

3. Be cunning with wind direction. When it’s significantly windy, choose some segments where you’ll have a tailwind.

But the key thing is to try not to get too carried away with it all. It should be fun and rewarding not dangerous and stressful.

Feel free to join the Merlin Cycles Strava Club and join the madness!

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