Biking, Apps, and Gaming.

So, I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been tracking my rides, even my commuting, with an app called Strava. Now, I really like Strava. It’s got some faults (like, shutting itself down while it’s tracking a ride, to perform an update) but as a whole, it’s very, very good.

And one of the things it does that really floats my boat is turns riding into a video game. Specifically, a racing game.

See, what Strava does, that the others don’t, is socialize the ride: ok. More like, “gameify”. Riders in a particular city isolate “segments” (point A to point B) and that becomes a segment. Then, anyone who rides that segment, with the app tracking them gets a time for their ride on that segment.

And the get placed on a leaderboard.

You can see where this is going, right?

Here’s the thing. That week (I wrote this two weeks ago, been sick and lazy since) has been spectacularly good for me.

Sawmill Creek – Huntclub -> Walkley (2.4km)
Previous – 4m43s. Monday 4m27s, Tuesday 4m37, Thursday 4m24 @ 32.9km/h (8th in the city) Friday 4m27s

Sawmill Creek – Walkley to Brookfield (1.1km)
Previous 2m03s. Monday 1m51s, Tuesday 1m52s, Thursday 1m50s (12th in the city) Friday 1m48s @ 35.1km/h (10th in the city)

You’ll notice that Wednesday isn’t in there. That’s because I had one of those mentioned “reset to update” events and it didn’t track my run.

I don’t know what changed. I’d been off for a couple of weeks (flat tires, sick, etc) and actually drove to work for the best part of two weeks. Huge break in riding. As mentioned, sick.

And then I start up again, and this happens. I’m fast as fuck.

And I know I’m fast as fuck. Because the tracker tends to be right. Also, if I see other people on the path, it’s because I’m passing them.

I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive about it. Ok. maybe a little.

But, the upside is, I’ve ridden for approximately 200 minutes this week (so… 3.3hrs) commuting. That covers about 85km. The ride home is slower, for some reason, but even considering that, I’m averaging somewhere around 26km/h for the entire week. The calorie burn (if you can trust the tracker) is around 3300 cal, for the week (10 rides, approx 300cal per ride). Seems fairly legit to me, as I’m working hard to achieve the speeds/averages that I’m getting.

At the end of the day though, those segments? Damn. That’s actually motivating me. The ride on either side of them isn’t commute anymore, it’s “how I get to my charge point”. Seriously. You cannot (or maybe you can) believe just how motivating that leaderboard is for me.

It does help when that ride looks like this though (this is from this, Friday, morning):

I’m almost done for the season: it’s middle of October, I’ll probably get three to six weeks more of bike commuting before I quit for the winter. I used to ride the winter, too, but the reason I don’t anymore is another story entirely.


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