Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#STRAVA Making Monuments-Killing KOMs

The automatic door shooshed opened and the peloton raced in backward through the checkout.  Paper and plastic bags were tossed in the air and fell like confetti.  A shopping cart crashed into an end-of-aisle display.  They flew around a 99 cent bin of Easter Candy and screamed down aisle five in search of STRAVA Glory, the segment between the pickles and paper towels. 

The Madonna is Always Watching
Redonkulous you say?  Click here and check out this STRAVA segment on a 33 foot rise over two-tenths of a mile on a sliver of neighborhood bike path by a Church in the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfax, which sees more than its fair share of shopping carts and strollers.  If only for safety, but not excluding stupidity, it’s obvious some STRAVA segments shouldn’t be segments.  Before STRAVA existed, I’ve seen guys go up in front lawns on group ride sprints…glory that lasted less than hours.  Madonna del Ghisallo only knows what will happen with eternal STRAVA glory at stake. 

The Original KOM
It’s also obvious, like the well worn Galbraith Road climb on Cincinnati’s east side and the Cleves Time Trial Route on the West side, some segments should be upgraded to Monumental status.  You see before STRAVA existed, there were KOM's.  Yes.  They in fact were wood, wooden monuments of eternal achievement.  I’m pretty certain Ned Overend’s times are still posted on painted wooden signs along the trail up to Sandia Peak outside of Albuquerque, NM.  Now, that’s a monument.  Every locality should have a few and they should be much more spectacular than a neighborhood bike path.

If you’re not in the know, STRAVA is the Lemon Poppy Seed Clif Bar of cycling applications for smart phones and GPS.  It's that addicting.  STRAVA allows users to compete over certain stretches of road and trail for virtual kudos.  It also provides mapping and useable training tools.  If you are a user, don’t be gun-shy about visiting the page for a segment, clicking the “Flag” button and marking it as dangerous or plain ol' goofy.

I’ve had GPS and STRAVA for maybe a month and already I’m exhausted with the amount of segments, segments on neighborhood bike paths, segments in parks, segments with multiple stoplights, segments on the rises of bridges over the Ohio River.  For GPS’s sake, there are even segments within segments.  What we need is a STRAVA Grand Poobah, a King of the KOM’s.  But this is the age of the social network, where peer groups rule the sway.  If I sat down at the STRAVA board room, say as part of their cycling marketing team, here are a few ideas I’d toss out before clipping in for the noon lunch ride in San Francisco. 

When creating a cycling segment, a user should be prompted with a note:
Segments should be uninterrupted without stop signs, stop lights or unmarked intersections.  Unless it is a King of Skid (KOS) contest, segments should not end with a stop light, stop sign or intersection, but rather fall short with enough distance for safe stopping.  Segments should have a 0% chance of having a stroller, a child on a tricycle, somebody using a walker, or a stoned creepy dude walking in its path. 

No virtual KOM crowns or medals should be awarded on segments.  
Ba bam!  While there is a leaderboard for segments and personal bests awarded, KOM crowns and medals will be reserved for a new type of segment called Monuments.  Insert sound of heavenly choir music here.  Positions on basic segment leaderboards last for 1 year and then disappear. 

Beyond Segments, there should be Monuments.  
These are the hardest climbs, hottest contested sprint segments and well known time trial routes.  Based on population, geography or square mileage, maybe each county is allowed a limited number of Monuments of STRAVA.  I think Cincinnati’s Hamilton county could get by with 4, 2 Climbs and 2 Time Trial Monuments.  This is where KOM and podiums are awarded and they are forever.  Imagine vising a city, renting a bike and hitting the local STRAVA Monuments.  That’s pure STRAVA genius.  My resume is on Linked-In.

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