Strava is the latest craze in cycling, and rightfully so. It's a fun way to challenge yourself and your friends, and can even be used to compare your times over the same sections of road ridden by the pros.
But getting top times and moving up the leaderboard can be a challenge. Use these tricks of the trade to improve your position so your Strava rankings are among the best.
1. Use your best equipment. If you're going to challenge for a top time, leave your training bike and heavy wheels at home. Wear your most form-fitting jersey, comfortable shorts and aero helmet. Every advantage makes a difference.
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2. Check the weather. Rain, wind or even extreme heat can ruin your chances of moving up the leaderboard. Try to choose ideal weather conditions, if possible. If you can plan a perfect tailwind, use it to your benefit.
3. Get rid of everything you don't need. Most Strava segments are on climbs, and extra weight will slow you down. If you're riding with a partner, give him your extra bottles, saddlebags, food and any other tools you might be carrying in your pockets. If you're riding alone, stash them in a bush.
4. Treat it like a time trial. This means not logging long miles or tackling tough climbs before you reach the Strava segment. Complete a proper warm-up to get your legs ready for a hard effort, just as you would before a race.
5. Rest the day before. Loosen your legs the day before you plan to challenge your Strava rankings with an easy effort with high cadences, short distances and little to no climbing. Get plenty of sleep the night before.
6. Use your friends as a lead-out train. Think of it like a lead out for a sprint. Get a few of your cycling buddies to lead you out while you draft, and then, one by one, have them peel off the front to set you up for the perfect sprint to the line.
7. Challenge the legitimacy of records. If you notice a top time that is pretty close to impossible, send it to Strava to challenge the legitimacy. Unless it's a professional heading downhill, someone who beats your time by going 60mph was probably in a car and not on a bike.
8. Create a new Strava course. One way to ensure that you reach the top of the leaderboard is to post a new course. How long you stay there is another question.
9. Pace off a motorbike. Ever wonder how cyclists maintain 35mph on a flat section of road? More than likely they've got a pacer, and a motorbike can provide peloton-like benefits for maintaining speed. Just make sure the person driving knows what they're doing so you don't end up riding into them.
10. Ride when the traffic is minimal. Racing on the road can be dangerous. If you're going to challenge a segment, make sure safety is your number one priority. It'll do you little good to be number one if you wind up severely injured. Consider testing your luck during early morning hours on the weekend when the majority of people are sleeping. Night rides on weekdays are also an option—just make sure you use good lights so others can see you. Riding during these times of day will help you avoid most red lights, and decrease your chances of motorists pulling out in front of you while you're in sprint mode.
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