While the staff of XXC (me) has only ever used Strava to confirm an ever growing decline of speed and fitness, past contributors Chris and Eric from D2 Racing here in Michigan are sort of Strava junkies and enjoy the friendly (and not so friendly) competition that Strava can encourage. Hell, they have even come up with a series of t shirts celebrating their “semgment hunting,” Chris also recently posted up some ideas about how in the future, folks might utilize Strava for a type of grassroots racing. Since the idea of more folks racing whether via Strava or in a fully supported, sanctioned week long stage race appeals to XXC, with Chris’ permission I have posted part of his article here.
Strava: Answer to Grassroots Racing
by Chris Patterson
THE PROBLEM: time and money. Previously being in the role as race director, as well as supporting roles to help direct a race, is not an easy role. As the event date lingers near, the stress of ensuring that a hundred or more (even thousands in the case of a select few races) people will be satisfied is ever crushing. But why not eliminate the extra work where possible. For instance, advertising has been more robust for grassroots events with empty pockets and bootstrapped staff. Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook provide a myriad of connection opportunities putting strength in the old saying that word of the mouth is the most powerful advertising (maybe we should consider “digital mouthing”). This may minimize costs, but digital mouthing doesn’t minimize course set up, event volunteers and the like; it’s a massive undertaking to manage.
THE ANSWER: Strava. I believe that Strava provides the perfect application for grass roots racing. The random gravel road race, the neighborhood duathlon or the local xc race. These are all examples where the volunteers can stay at the registration tents and the participants can get back to the feel of grass roots racing by application of Strava and its nifty segments. Strava just makes it simpler. (Strava should coin that if that actually read this blog).
Even Justin Timberlake understands the principle that simple can be better, as he states “I like simple things. I like to sneak in the theatre and watch movies. I’m a movie buff.” Whether that’s relevant to this post or my conclusion, I’m yet to decide, but nonetheless his first four words are dynamite—equally true of this post. I too like simple things and I strongly urge that Strava is a simple thing. Strava’s segments can be utilized to include an entire race course.
For instance, the Yankee Springs Time Trial is one of the largest mountain bike races here in Michigan (I didn’t forget about Iceman… the biggest). While it happens one day with many participants, if that crowd is not appealing, why not offer bragging rights to individuals according to their Strava times. While the technical setup hurdles may be cumbersome at first, I foresee in the future an ability to set up a few workstations with internet connectivity on event day. The one can allow the participants to ride the course; and once completed, upload their GPS data. Once Strava allows the quick sorting of Segment Leader Board by date, you have quick categorized ranking and position for the event. I’m not suggesting that all the tools are yet in place, but a few contract programmers can quickly design an APIto sort this information (better yet hire Eric . . . ha!)..
What does this allow? Simplification. No timing mats, ankle bracelets and registration nightmares. Not to mention there is no need for an expensive timing company. All one has to do for a simple set up on the day of the event is providing the starting and ending locations of the segment and have everyone show up. The participants ride the course and upload their data files accordingly.