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05-01-2021 | Frank Jansen & Herman Nekkers

Disagree: Strava segments

We starting 2021 with a new section: disagree. An exchange of letters between two cyclists who... disagree.

Beste Herman,

It's been only a year since I'm using Strava. For years I refused, previous attempts to use the app failed. Only after the third attempt  found a mode in which it works well for me. I only follow people I've ever seen face-to-face and I don't follow pros or ultra-cyclists. My profile is closed I don't accept strangers. In this way, the app works well for me.

One of the parts that make me feel worse, however, are the segments. The idea behind it is of course fantastic. The result (people riding like idiots to get a PR or a KOM) is bad, but that's not Strava's fault, but the fault of the users. But I don't want to talk about that. I think segments are mostly badly executed. I would like to make the following suggestions for improvement.

  1. No more flat segments. After all, it is called King of the Mountain. A segment is about an entire climb with at least 25 meters of climbing. From turn 2 to turn 3 on Alpe d'Huez there's no segment.
  2. For each climb there as many segments as sides. So the Mt Ventoux has exactly 3 (paved) segments. Exceptions can be made if there is a discussion about the starting point (for example the Grimsel pas) or the top (for example Alpe d'Huez).
  3. Per mountain bike route there's 1 segment. If there are shortcuts, they can get their own segment.
  4. Segment creation will remain user generated but will be edited from now on: just like for example in the reviews of Tripadvisor. A human will be involved. Segments will be given normal and logical names. Yes: Côte de la Redoute (Z) and not "fucking dike with your fucking wind".

I'm looking forward to your answer.

Best, Frank

Hello Frank,

Interesting view. I've been using Strava for years myself. I have a paid subscription and my account is open to everyone. Many of my followers are people I met once at an event and would meet again one day. In all fairness, this has only happened in a few cases.

This difference in use between you and me actually indicates what Strava stands for. You can do a lot with it and anyone can use it as he or she wishes.

As far as the segments are concerned, I understand what you mean but I don't agree with you. My main objections come down to the following:

  1. I have no need for the proposed structure and can live perfectly well with the present form. I see that it is messy, but it does not annoy me.
  2. Your proposal is an arbitrary one, which deprives a lot of people of their pleasure.
  3. I have a healthy aversion to a central party deciding what is good and what is not.

I'll explain:

  • I'm not into flat segments myself. I'm too am very surprised about people who are excited about a KOM on a farm road. But you and I are only two of them. There are a lot of people who have fun here. Why take that away from them?
  • The segment names, double segments, segments about parts of a col: i just don't care.
  • I am a big fan of open platforms and decentralized organizations. Centralization, especially since the emergence of the Internet, has led to monopolies on a global scale resulting in enormous concentrations of power. I won't go into too much detail on this, but in general I have a healthy aversion to central parties thinking about what's good for us. Well, Strava is not exactly the example of a decentralized organization, but the less they meddle in these matters the better I like it. Every decision is by definition arbitrary. It's no different with your proposal: it's your opinion. I think a lot of people think differently and why should they have less right to speak about it?
  • And who is the authority that determines which segment gets through the censorship and which doesn't?
  • In addition, I wonder how you want to arrange this. Strava is not going to do it, because their business model is well enough thought out. The fact that Strava is successful in the current way indicates that the current app meets a need.
  • You could start creating Structured Strava yourself.

My advice to you is: cycling is too beautiful to annoy you with this kind of side issues. Let it go. Head in the wind, suffer and push the pedals.

In conclusion: if you do get it done anyway, make an exception for 'fucking dike with your fucking wind', because that's a cult segment in our area.



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