It’s hard finding a good ride in a new area
Many older cyclists, including friends of mine, like to go on holidays with their bike. Several friends of mine recently have avoided the cold by heading to northern Australia, where it’s warmer, with their bike.
Taking your bike along on holidays gives you the opportunity to maintain your fitness as well as to see some of the local rides at the same time. After all, whilst it’s nice to cycle at home it’s always fun to ride new and unknown rides.
So you’ve gone on holidays with your bike, planning to do a few rides during your trip, and you’re in a brand new area that you haven’t cycled before. How do you go about finding out where the best rides are?
Of course the best rides are all known to the local cyclists. They live there, they cycle there regularly and they know exactly where to go for a good ride. If you can tap into the local knowledge of cyclists who live in the area you’ll find out where to cycle to get the best ride.
Of course you can always ask at the local bike shop, or just keep an eye out for local cyclists, stop one of them and ask.
However there is a better way. You can find out exactly where the best rides are, where you’re planning to go, right from the comfort of your own home using your own computer, before you go.
You will know if you’ve read previous newsletters I’m a big fan of Strava.
I think it’s a fun cycling application, and a great way to both compare your own performances with previous performances of your own as well as to compare your own performances with those of others. Or just have some fun.
In fact one of the things that I do is to graph my Strava times for a particular segment so that I can see whether or not I’m making any improvement. (I don’t think I am).
Most people use Strava for their local rides, because that’s what they do most often, they ride locally, as you’d expect.
And now there’s a way to use the accumulated rides that are on Strava to find out exactly where the locals ride, provided the locals use Strava.
And you don’t need to go to the Strava website, there’s a better way.
You’ll find it at Raceshape.com, though you need to dig a little.
Raceshape ‘s website is where you can upload Strava segments and view some information and metrics about how people have ridden those segments. But that’s not how we can use it to find a local ride.
Both up on the top right as well as on the bottom of the homepage you’ll see a link to a global heat map.
If you look on that map you will see the accumulated Strava rides of thousands of other cyclists. Anywhere you will see red or blue is where someone has recorded a Strava time, anywhere in the world.
You also find that you can enlarge the map by scrolling or using the tool on the top left hand side to narrow down to anywhere you want to view, including of course where you’re planning to holiday.
And if you did dig right down to a very local level by scrolling and enlarging you will see local streets as well as local rides, all courtesy of the locals uploading their Strava data. The red rides are the most popular.
Once you’ve scrolled down then click on the little button on the right-hand side at the top saying “show nearby segments”. Some little markers will pop up, and you can click on them.
That will show you each of the Strava segments in the area you are viewing, as well as the number of times it has been ridden by a cyclist using Strava, as well as the distance and elevation gain which will give you an indication of how popular the ride is as well as the difficulty.
And if you really want to dig down click “View the raceshape” and see more about each of the segments where the locals ride.
You’ll see where the locals ride, because you will see their Strava data.
It’s good fun just to have a look at your own area to see where the rides go, and to pick up some new ideas on rides that other cyclists may have ridden in your area but that you haven’t yet tried.
But it’s also a great way, if you’re going on holidays with your bike, to look at where you’re planning to ride to see exactly where the local cyclists like to cycle.
Because the locals know where the best rides are, and you can see their choices right there on your screen before you leave.
So, if you’re holidaying with your bike soon, spend a few moments at home on Raceshape and take a look at where the locals love to ride. If they love the rides you probably will too.
But there is more that you can use this tool for than just for when you go on holidays.
Let’s say you’ve got a new job, and you’d like to cycle to work. What’s the best route to take? Which way is the safest, the shortest or the nicest ride?
Again of course you can tap into this information by finding out who else rides in that area. You can dig right down into the local streets of your suburb or city to see exactly which routes are the most popular, and then plan your route based on the premise that people who already ride there know where the best routes are.
And if you think a little laterally you’ll probably find quite a few different ways to use this tool.