Strava introduces new functionality for the truly hopeless

January 12, 2015 § 52 Comments

I have a really bad imagination, which is why I ride my bike all the time. There’s no better way to limn crazy than by delving into the real world. And few parts of reality are as dark, bizarre, and hysterically weird than Strava.

Here’s the big blog release for 2015, wherein Strava announces a whole new way to earn valuable cups, crowns, and medals. It’s surely not by chance that, unlike the old nonexistent virtual trophy cups, the new ones are empty.

Fortunately I was able to get hold of Annie Vranizan, Strava’s Advocacy and Communications Manager, who explained the whole empty cup concept to me in plain English.

CitSB: So now Straddicts can get a whole new set of crowns, cups, and medals?

AV: Yep. It’s gonna be awesome!

CitSB: What was wrong with the old ones?

AV: Absolutely nothing. And they’ll still be there for you to pore over at 3:00 AM with your favorite box of tissues.

CitSB: So why the new system?

AV: We’ve heard from many Strava athletes that it’s not easy to top a PR set in peak fitness, during a race, or when they were younger. So we’ve heard that concern and given them something new to strive for. “Strava” means “hopeless” in Finnish, after all. These new empty cups are our way of saying, “You’re not getting older. You’re as strong as you always were. You’re never going to die.”

CitSB: Wow. That seems, you know, patently false.

AV: Oh, it is. But these are Straddicts. Their paid memberships depend on keeping the fantasy alive. And we had other problems.

CitSB: Such as?

AV: After several years and thousands of efforts, the KOM’s on most segments have become unsurmountable, even for the fellows with $20k rigs, four-man TT teams, and onboard Doppler radar to perfectly time the wind. Even by only showing up to work occasionally, abandoning all pretense of family time, slimming down to 1%, hiring the super-extra-pro-level of online coaching, putting a physician on retainer to manage the EPO-induced blood clumping during sleep, our premium members were realizing that at the end of the day they simply weren’t going to snatch back a KOM set by some 22-year-old kid.

CitSB: And?

AV: Well, that’s a problem. Most of our premium addicts have got to get one KOM per month, minimum, or they let their subscription lapse. We even toyed with a moped-assist category, but a customer survey nixed that idea.

CitSB: Straddicts refuse to cheat, huh?

AV: Oh, not at all. But it’s too complicated to cloak an engine’s output so that it mimics the irregularity human-generated wattage.

CitSB: I wasn’t aware that it was all about the virtual trinkets. I mean, you can’t even hang them on the wall. I thought people really valued Strava for tracking routes and logging mileage.

AV: Well, our unpaid users may. But with regard to logging mileage, Scott Dickson, the first American winner of Paris-Brest-Paris, cracked that problem long ago using a type of technology that frankly stands up pretty well even today.

CitSB: What is that?

AV: I think they call it a “pencil and notepad.” I’ve seen it at the Technology Museum here in Silicon Valley, but don’t know of anyone who can actually program it. The other problem is that our premium members can’t do what they’ve always done to earn more virtual trinkets.

CitSB: What’s that?

AV: Create new segments. We ran a GPS analysis of North America and found that, in North County San Diego for example, every roadway, driveway, dirt trail, and parking lot has been broken down into 1-meter Strava segments. There are over 12 billion segments there. And every segment has a leaderboard thousands of riders deep.

CitSB: Surely there are some uncreated segments from, say, the front door of the apartment on the 25th Floor to the breaker box on the 12th?

AV: Possibly. But our analytics show that premium members prize competition with other riders. There will always be a place on Strava for secret segments that only you can ride, but most addicts want the thrill of combat. It’s all about sending and receiving “the letter,” you know?

CitSB: So why don’t they just race? CBR has a great crit coming this Sunday. I think for $35 bucks you can actually race your bike against real people. And it’s cheaper than Strava. And the trinkets are mostly edible.

AV: Racing is too dangerous for Straddicts, and often times a premium member who is really good at his age-weight-gender category on Strava turns out to be a lummoxing sack of shit in a real bike race. And it hurts their feelings when they get dropped.

CitSB: I see. So why don’t they train harder and race more so they don’t get dropped?

AV: Let me give you an example.

CitSB: Okay.

AV: Let’s say you could choose between getting your face punched so hard that it rams your front teeth so far up into the gums that they punctured the lower part of your skull and lodge into your brain. Or, you could go a Thai massage and have someone cover your body in oil, rub you down for a few bucks in all the right places, and tell you you look like a movie star. Which would you choose?

CitSB: Well, that’s easy, because I’m a bike racer.

AV: Right? But our premium members aren’t. That’s why they like Strava. As long as they get a virtual empty trinket they’ll keep paying the monthly fee because there’s always a happy ending.

CitSB: Just like the Thai massage?

AV: Exactly.



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§ 52 Responses to Strava introduces new functionality for the truly hopeless

  • Greg says:

    The 2015 trophies are ridiculous. Now I expect a trophy for my pre-ride deuce.

  • Wily says:


  • Arik Kadosh says:

    Now, now Wankmeister! I’m half Finnish and there is no word for “hopeless” in Finnish. You must be talking about those pussies next door in Sweden.

    Finland has quite the opposite word, a national identity, it’s called “Sisu”, and it loosely translates to HTFU…..

  • DangerStu says:

    I don’t know what your problem is Seth, I for one can’t wait until they roll out the, monthly, weekly and daily charts. I’ve already been to Costco and stocked up on hand cream and tissues in anticipation.

  • I pay my monthly blog dues…don’t have a trinket but always a happy ending at the end of the read 😊

    For only $2.99 per month, you can get your own Happy Ending every day, courtesy of Sethi 😊

  • Serge Issakov says:

    Tears in my eyes.

    “in North County San Diego for example, every roadway, driveway, dirt trail, and parking lot has been broken down into 1-meter Strava segments. There are over 12 billion segments there. And every segment has a leaderboard thousands of riders deep.”


  • sibex9591 says:

    I thought Strava was broken :). Got home after what hopefully becomes a yearly event, and all these false koms and trinkets after i uploaded. Huh wtf??

    Now, i understand.

    • fsethd says:

      And the quality of your ride has increased proportionately, right?

      I think they should also make a velveteen glass case where we can hang our virtual trophies.

  • Paz says:


  • Sr Geezer Johan says:

    Whoa! Don’t be hatin on Strava. There are some real benefits like how those empty virtual trophies are much easier to store, organize and display than empty profamateur trinket juice boxes so easily confused with trash. Your wife can’t “accidentally” throw away a virtual KOM. It helps ensure your palmares are immortalized for future generations.

    • fsethd says:

      I was wondering what happened to all my juice boxes!

      • Sr Geezer Johan says:

        So valuable they were likely stolen.

        Just wait till Strava introduces the Strava Historical Timeline for every KOM. Your empty trophies will live forever! Long after you’re gone the greatgrandkids can see how you once owned the KOM on the PV BigEE Climb – Really Really Steep Side for 3 minutes on 1/1/15 12:01am just after they reset the KOM and before PVStravaDork showed up to steal your empty trophy. New Years Day rides will never be the same…

        • fsethd says:

          Long after I’m gone? But I’ve already been gone!

          And it’s nice to know that my great empty cups will remain forever. PVStravaDork … so he’s the one taking all my 1/1 midnight KOM’s? That wanker.

  • Serge Issakov says:

    Perhaps they did to make Strava more appealing to triathletes.

  • DangerStu says:

    I guess it’s not universaly popular:

  • Bart says:

    Hmmmm, wonder if Bait, Sluggo, Worthless, Luggs, etc. have ever bothered wasting time with Strava…

  • Winemaker says:

    “But our analytics show that premium members prize competition with other riders”. ….”So why don’t they just race?”…..” …often times a premium member who is really good at his age-weight-gender category on Strava turns out to be a lummoxing sack of shit in a real bike race. And it hurts their feelings when they get dropped.”

    I wet myself, I was laughing so hard at this pure, pure truth…..

    Buy a license, spend years getting stomped, sleep six to a room in vermin infested mudflats; then, and only then should one be allowed to be a Straddict.

    • fsethd says:

      After which time, of course, you wouldn’t want to use Strava even if they paid you.

      Still waiting for another one of your guest posting back-in-the-day gems!

      • Winemaker says:

        What would you like….all are re-edits…. the amateur Three days of De Panne, 1986 (Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde), Copperopolis 1977 (when that pimply faced pigfucker from Reno won)….or… Las Contiendas de las Colinas 1978???

  • Jens says:

    jeez. Can u pls make a foreigner version of ur blog.
    I had to look up 6 words in this blog. It’s getting complicated.
    Loving it.

    • fsethd says:

      If you had to look up six words, the average American reader will have had to put the whole thing through Google Translate.

      Brits will be disappointed at the simple vocab, of course.

  • the marketing folks at STRAVA are missing out on selling real cups (empty or not) once you have earned ’em…that way you can really cover your mantle with some trophies! For example i earned a second place cup (2015) for the coveted “avenue sprint” near Ojai someplace…overall, i’m like 78th…but, i’ve earned that 2nd place cup baby!! For $15, I should be able to buy “2015 2nd Place Winner”, and put it up for all to see!! ®g$marketing…STRAVA, you’re welcome!!!

    • fsethd says:

      I could even add a wall and Lance-like trophy case to hold all of the 2015 empty cups & trinkets I’m gonna earn!

      2015 3rd Best PR for Tuckingham Garden Pathway TT (.05654 miles long, 0% gradient, 50 mph winds out of the north), date of conquest 1/1/2015 at 12:01 AM, overall leaderboard ranking 4,908,109.

  • channel_zero says:

    Now you’ve done it G$.

    My eyes won’t be able to unsee the meaningless trinket emblazoned, yellow/jaune, primalwear jersey wearers on the bike path this summer.

    Make it stop!

  • Ooooh! I must get one of those on-board Doppler radars! 😉

    I see they’ve also reduced the “Gran Fondo” challenge from 130kms to 100kms so they can sell a whole bunch more limited edition colour coded jerseys to other riders can spot Strava whores from a distance…

  • ds says:

    this reminds me of the ole saying…”be careful what you ask for!”

    it also reminded me of when i was actively using and testing strava’s features and functionality…submitting bugs, providing feedback, suggestions, etc…

    so, i went back to my strava mail-folder and dugout this request that someone had suggested, from early 2012…

    Show me all my achievements on Strava…

    which led to this feature suggestion from “old-fart”…

    Award Segment PRs/Achievements for the current Year (2/2014)

    notice the top comment from elle…

    “Hello everyone – Set to release today are annual or yearly achievements for KOMs/QOMs, top-10s and PRs….Enjoy!”


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