I got a new mount for my phone and upgraded Strava (the app I use to track my times and performance) to their Premium plan, so I could use their Live Segments feature.

Live Segments — well, let me back it up, first. A segment is a section of your route. Sometimes very short, sometimes long, sometimes the entire route. Many other Strava users configure them and sometimes you create your own.

When you go on your ride, Strava compares your time for the segment against not only yourself but others who’ve ridden the same segment.  Then when you’re done, you can compare yourself to others – even professionals. It’s both amazing and infuriating because there’s no way I’ll ever beat some of these folks.

Live Segments is a feature wherein, on your phone screen, it pops up and tells you that you’re approaching one of your segments. Then, when you start the segment, it tells you your PR (personal record) and that the segment has started.

This is what it looks like on your phone:

On the left is the “You’re getting close” indicator. The middle is complex but it breaks down to your time in the top left corner, how far along you are in the segment in the top right corner, your +/- time from your own PR (+ means you’re beating it, – means you’re slower than your PR) and the red circle with the crown in it is the KOM (King of the Mountain, the fastest person on that segment).

On my route, I decided to go to the bike trail, hit the end parking lot, then come back, rather than go my entire route. I just wanted to test the segments feature.

The first live segment that popped up was right up the street and it motivated me to peddle harder and faster than before. There’s something about knowing you can beat yourself that really pushes you. Or at least it did for me.

I ended up PR’ing every segment of the route on the way there. And since I’d never come back on the trail, I hit some new segments and got PRs from them (even though it was my first ride, it’s still a PR).

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:09:08 01:04:34 15.16 14.09 28.86 534.78
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

And here’s my PRs from inside the ride:

The ones without the little PR icons are either because they’re new segments to me or because another Strava rider notified Strava that the segment was “hazardous”. Since they think the segment is potentially dangerous, they don’t show you numbers by default, so you’re not competing in a segment that could be harmful to you in some way. They try to not encourage you for those segments. But if you click into them and agree to their waivers, you can see your scores, which I did. You just can’t see them on the screen I’m showing above.

Strava Premium offers many other features, such as comparing times by age group, a live beacon so you can let people know where you are while you’re riding, in case you get hurt, personalized coaching and training plans, and better analysis and metrics on your rides. It comes with a price tag of $59.99 a year and is available at strava.com/premium

So far, I’m enjoying the extra push to beat my own scores. I know I’ll likely never be KOM for my segments, but beating myself is reward enough for me!

I mapped out a new 25 mile route yesterday before heading out on my ride and due to a tiny “this street sign is pointing the wrong way” incident that caused me to go down the wrong road, I ended up going 26.6 miles in total.

It’s a new distance record for me and I PR’d all segments I’d done before (though most of the segments on this ride were new)!

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:53:07 01:50:05 26.64 14.52 37.58 910.10
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I’m going to do the same route today again to see if I can PR some of my times I set yesterday. It’s a nice route that starts off with about 6 miles on a bike trail that’s only about 2 miles away.

I can’t remember the last time I wished it to rain as much as I did on this ride. The humidity was hovering around 85%, to the point where I felt like I was riding through the rain, even though it wasn’t raining.

The route was a little different than last time I did it, since I didn’t go through Callahan State Park (which I can’t do now, since I’m on a road bike). So it’s a little further than last time.

This time:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:29:57 01:28:41 20.80 14.07 37.80 717.85
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Last time:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:50:25 01:42:32 19.69 11.52 38.25 775.59
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Quite faster, even though it’s over 2 miles longer. (I think it’s actually closer to 24 miles, but Strava miscalculated the distance, which seems to be a common problem people complain about with their app.)

I also PR’d every segment on the ride, except the 4 new ones that I’d never ridden before and one segment that they deemed “hazardous” because it’s down such a steep hill, so they don’t allow competition on it.

Pretty happy with my new bike, overall. Expensive, but worth it in the end, because I can go farther faster. So, while I spent a lot of money on it, I’ll make up for that in getting time back in my day (over time), as I value my time quite high.

I’m also thrilled to report that there’s been no numbness (still) in my right ring finger that had been falling asleep when riding the mountain bike. A double win there; faster times, no pain!

I did my longer route today (almost 20 miles on the new bike). Out of the 8 segments on the ride, I PR’d 6 of them and missed the other 2 by 6 seconds and 3 seconds. So close!

Here’s my ride:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:20:36 01:20:19 19.56 14.61 42.28 712.27
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

versus my last ride on the mountain bike

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:48:28 01:45:51 19.32 10.95 36.24 1,007.55
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Cut a bunch of time, went a bunch faster and feel a lot better.

So my last ride, as we know, took me through Callahan State Park and down a big ass hill, which caused me to break my back brake (say that 5 times fast!).

The cost of the repair, plus a tune up to fix some issue I was having with the gearing on my old bike was about 40% the cost of a new (road) bike, so I bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new bike, even though the Schwinn mountain bike is less than a year old. It’s my fault, really. I bought the wrong bike for the type of riding I ended up doing.

Here’s the old bike, a Schwinn Protocol 1.0 (stock photo):

Here’s the new bike, a Trek Domane ALR 4 (stock photo):

The ride was a little rougher on the new bike, which is expected since it doesn’t have as many shocks on it as the mountain bike (for obvious reasons). The seat is a little harder than I’d like (I think I just need some better bike shorts). But man the ride is so much better, so much faster, so much smoother. The gears are making a little bit of a grinding sound when I go into a lower gear, so I’ll bring it back into the shop for them to take a look.

The thing I’m happiest about – aside from my improved times – is that there’s no numbness in my hands or fingers. With the Schwinn, my right hand – specifically the tip of my right ring finger – would fall asleep when riding. Presumably, because I was postured funny or hitting a nerve in some weird way. Though I did a shorter ride that I have been doing to test it out, there’s no numbness at all.

Here’s the activity feed from Strava for my ride this morning:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
00:52:36 00:52:15 12.95 14.88 34.45 450.46
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

And here’s the same route the last time I rode it on my Schwinn:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:07:42 01:05:42 12.91 11.79 31.09 339.24
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Comparing just the overall times, I shaved 20% on the total time.

And, according to Strava’s in-depth analysis, I set a PR (Personal Record) for every segment (a small part of the overall route) on this ride:

I’m so beyond thrilled with my test ride this morning and can’t wait for the next ride!

Apparently, my route planner thought it’d be fun to take me into a state park, through ankle deep mud, up a hill that was way too steep to ride, and then down a hill so steep and full of rocks that I broke my rear brake trying to stop.

So, I’ve modified that route to not go through the state park. The rest of it wasn’t terrible, so I’ll keep it.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:50:25 01:42:32 19.69 11.52 38.25 775.59
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

So many caterpillars hanging from trees this time of year. I spent so much time dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging so they didn’t hit me in the face.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:48:28 01:45:51 19.32 10.95 36.24 1,007.55
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.