I knew we were in trouble when he turned up to the training ride in a skinsuit, aero booties and with the vents on his helmet taped up. The wind direction had been deemed favourable, temperature and air density agreeable. It was time to go break some Strava records.
If you’re so far unacquainted with Strava, then it’s an on-line repository for all those GPS files and stats accumulated by these new-fangled cycling computers. Every variable is measured and uploaded and converted into a binary facsimile of how any ride – from commute to leisurely jaunt in the countryside – might appear if it were conceived by the makers of The Matrix. A dizzying stream of binary type reconstructing the open road as a line on a map and the curves of a graph.
And as a Garmin GPS device (other brands are available) is now strapped to every second handlebar or stem, it was inevitable all that collated data would be put to good use. And when I say ‘good’ I mean transformed into some sort of petty form of competition and one-upmanship. It’s social media for cyclists, the kind of social media that allows you to spy on your friends and check out how they’ve been riding, how far, how fast, and whether it’s any further and faster than you.