Welcome to Riding Nerdy, TNW’s fortnightly dive into bicycle-based tech, where we go into too much detail and geek out on all things related to pedal-powered gadgets.
Since lockdown measures around the world have forced gyms and health clubs to close, many more people are exercising outside, where it’s free. The side effect is that everyone has seemingly pivoted to fitness tracking app, Strava.
Seriously, the amount of notifications telling me my Facebook friends have just joined Strava has been kind of surprising. Not because I don’t have any friends, but because I don’t really expect this kind of behavior from them.
If they’re getting out and trying to keep moving despite the lockdown, more power to them. But there are some that are taking things a little too far, and need calling out.
There’s certain unspoken etiquette when it comes to Strava, and it simply boils down to one principle: “Don’t brag.”
For cyclists, the biggest power flex on Strava is to wake up at 6AM, knock out 248.8 km without stopping, on your own, and post the activity under its default name: “Morning ride.” Sure. Take a few pictures if you see things that are genuinely worth sharing, otherwise, just get your head down and get on with it.
But it seems a whole swathe of Strava users didn’t get the memo.
Enter Twitter account, Strava Wankers.
According to a recent interview with The Independent, the creator of Strava Wankers, known as “Annie,” (not her real name), started the account in 2015 as a “bit of a piss take.” Poking fun at members of her local running club who became obsessed with taking Strava Segments (virtually constructed portions of a course that users compete to be the fastest at).
Their obsession became so destructive that some runners worked in teams, passing their fitness tracking watches like relay batons, to reclaim the crown as king or queen of the segment. What a sad little life.
Come on!! Own up!! How many of you have had the other half drive infront of you to get the KOM?! https://t.co/BVLknOkKuS
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) August 20, 2015
Since then, the account has exploded and has amassed more than 47K followers, at the time of writing.
If you ask me, this Twitter account is providing us with a public service. Policing the virtual fitness world, subtly telling those that take it all a bit too seriously to “Reign it in pal.”
Like cocky little Myles here.
Calling all Swansea based #stravawankers.
Time to go grab yourself a Crockett Hill crown.
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) April 28, 2020
Or maybe the guy that got dressed in full aero kit to ride in his kitchen.
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) April 27, 2020
A run that felt easy? Was it because you sat down for an hour?
…and the other 56 mins sat in Hyde Park, presumably?
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) April 26, 2020
Or how about the rider that “got the King of the Mountain (KOM),” but didn’t because their Garmin didn’t record it properly. A KOM or QOM is awarded to the man or woman that completes a segment fastest. Remember, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.
What’s the best excuse you have ever used?
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) April 18, 2020
But now, it’s got to the point where Strava “athletes” — seriously, that’s what Strava calls its users — are posting literally anything they do, because they’ve seemingly got nothing better to do.
This could actually be some seriously high level form of counter-trolling of those that are actually probably quite fit, but go on about it a bit too much. Or maybe not…
Like this guy that tracked his walk to his front door to collect his pizza delivery. Good effort mate?
— Esther (@estherxth) April 29, 2020
What about good guy George collecting litter?
— StravaWankers (@stravawankers) April 22, 2020
It might seem a bit offensive, calling out people who are just trying to get some exercise and work on their fitness. But it’s all just a bit of fun, and it only pokes fun at people that can probably take it on the chin.
Speaking to “Annie” myself, she told me that she hopes people will see the humor in it.
It’s certainly not about belittling those that might need encouragement. It’s more about poking fun at the obsession of those that chase Strava Segments for self-validation, and the KOM culture the platform has created.
Starting out on the road to improving your fitness can be incredibly daunting. In many ways though, the Twitter account makes the community seem a lot more fun, approachable, and less alienating for newcomers.
“Annie” wants to make light of the situation, and emphasizes the fact that going out for a run or ride is not about gathering kudos or KOMs, but it’s about bettering yourself. There’s no shame in going out and running slow.
“But the main thing is that it’s a bit of fun. That’s definitely it,” she added. In days like these, that seems like an undeniably good thing.
Disclimer: Before you @ me, don’t. There’s probably been days when I too have been a Strava Wanker, I am guilty. But you know what they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn, or something.