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Is Strava causing anti-social cycling?

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A British researcher has presented research that, he says, shows that riders trying to set KOMs on Strava segments is having a detrimental effect on group rides.

Dr Paul Barratt from Staffordshire University said that rather than enjoying their rides alongside fellow club members, some riders are more interested in vying with potential competitors.

“Whilst cycling club social rides have always tended to culminate in a short sprint, members are now jumping off the front of the group many times throughout a ride in order to bag a fast ‘segment’,” he explains.

He maintains that such apps are also encouraging riders to head out on their own when the weather is good to put in bursts on Strava segments, for example, in the hope of moving up the leaderboard – and adds that it can become addictive.

“No matter your ability, Strava can be a real source of achievement,” explains Dr Barratt. “Even ‘purists’ that resist the technology at first can soon become hooked.”

But, he cautions, using Strava can also have a negative impact, for instance if riding in poor weather or on one of those days that sees more of a struggle from a fitness point of view.

“There’s a lot of bravado surrounding Strava,” he says. “But the league tables ignore the subjectivity of the road and rider. People don’t generally mind a bit of wind assistance – as long as it helps push them up the league table.”

What do you think? Has Strava made group rides less sociable?

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