Back in May we came up with the idea of Strava Smashing. Following a bit of internal rivalry and one-up-man-ship at TiS towers over supremacy on a certain Strava segment we decided to open up our mate’s race to anyone. This seemed to go down very well and got a positive response from everyone that took part.
While doing a bit of research in to such things I came across stravatrailracing.co.uk a site set up by Dan Nisbet doing exactly what we were only automatically and oh so slickly. Based further up north and using segments from trail centres Dan was doing what I wanted to do, only he wasn’t pouring over a spreadsheet and producing dodgy looking tables. He’d got the skills to do it properly. Wondering if Dan would be interested in a collaboration I dropped him an email and low and behold he had heard of TiS and was keen to get involved. Amazing!
A few months later, here we are, ready to Smash Strava Properly! Dan has been kind enough to develop us our own version of his Strava race system. It’s so good. We set a monthly segment and Dans code does the rest. It even has a monthly series so we can keep a tally on who’s been performing best over the year.
To introduce the main man himself, Dan Nisbet, he was kind enough to answer some of my inane questions.
Name: Dan Nisbet
Star Sign: Aries
You are responsible for the development of StravaTrailRacing.co.uk, which is a bloody brilliant idea, how long have you been Stravaing?
I started to play around with Strava at the end of last year, after racing my first segment there was no looking back. I was hooked.
Have you found that it has changed your riding? Has this been a good or a bad?
It’s certainly made me push myself that little bit more both on the ups and the downs. Ultimately, I ride because it’s fun. A big part of that is trying to get that little bit better, that little bit faster. Anything that helps keep me on my toes is a good thing.
Some of our mates have started taking things a bit seriously and now never ride without a GPS or a segment in mind. Have you found a similar effect?
Yeah, especially with riding in the STR series. As casual as it is, I’ve found that it’s really focused my riding. It’s amazing what a common goal and little competition can do. Sometimes though, you need to forget the virtual leaderboards and just have a good old blast out in the hills.
What inspired you to develop this application and what is your day job that’s given you the skills.
I love the idea of mates races and after gunning for KOM bragging rights against a friend of mine, it struck me. Would it be possible to combine the two? Armed with some local knowledge we’ve cherry picked the best segments, given you specific time window in which to race and weaved it all into a regional point based series.
The skillz… I’ve been designing and building websites for around 10 years. By day I’m an Art Director for a digital agency based in Newcastle. By night… well, that’s probably best left unsaid.
What do you think the future of Strava and mountain biking is?
Strava seems to have really set alight a competitive spark within MTB riders. Whether you race regularly or would just have never considered it, we all want to get a little higher on the leaderboard.
I don’t think the connection between real trails and the online world has ever been done so well, if at all competitively. With the explosion we’re seeing in cycling at the moment they seem to have struck gold. You never know, this may yet prove to be a major catalyst in getting people interested in organized racing.
For the future. With personal GPS devices getting ever more accurate, could we see something slightly larger in scale? gpsenduroracing.com over in the States looks to be a pretty interesting format.
Do you know how Strava works and why its not very reliable on some segments which means my mate has beaten me when I’m sooo much faster than him????
Ha! I know what you mean. I have a friend who has a habit of leaving his fastest run till the very, very end of the month, managing to just edge ahead every time. Infuriating!
Strava takes a GPS file which you can record using their smartphone app or Garmin. It then tries to match your GPS tracks to any number of nearby ‘segments’. A segment is a section of pre-defined trail from someone else’s ride. If your GPS tracks fall within a reasonable tight threshold, your time is taken and you’re automatically placed into a leaderboard. If your GPS is inaccurate or you stray too far from the trail, it fails to match and doesn’t count.
Some segments are better suited for racing on then others. One of the benefits of the STR Series is that we nominate trails that help keep everyone playing the same game. Given the amount of different devices people use, Strava is never going to replace a professionally timed event. It is however, as close as you’ll get without taping out the course.
Thanks very much Dan! You can get in touch with Dan direct here: firstname.lastname@example.org
This all kicks off on Tuesday 1st August right here at:
You’ve got until the 31st August to put in your best times and you can have as many goes as you like. All we ask is that you do so responsibly. Be respectful to other trail users, the trail itself and yourself. Don’t piss anyone off, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you dude. Simple. There’s not prizes, only bragging rights. You race completely at your own risk. We take absolutely no responsiblity for your actions or any injuries sustained.
We’re kicking off with a bit of a different trail to last time; it’s got up and down. You’re going to have to pedal. Racing around the well used trails of Blackamoor we hope you have some fun. Have a look on the map and figure it out where it goes, it makes in to a good loop.
We’ll be offering a new segment to race on each month and that’s where we will need your help. If you have a good segment you think we’d like to use, drop me a line at StravaSmashing@gmail.com.
See you out on the trails!