Tips to PR That Next Strava Segment

Blog Post – Strava Segment PR Tips

Strava is almost synonymous with cycling these days, and it makes sense! It can add a fun challenge element to your riding, it can help you discover new roads and trails, and my favourite is just seeing what your friends are up to, and to make fun of them for their 5 second long accidental upload. “EPIC!”

Strava segments can be a fun way to compete with yourself, or with others (which is why I’m organizing the Victoria Segment Challenge!) This format came into popularity when COVID first hit, and races and group rides were shut down. Those of us with a competitive itch could get a good scratch!

The purpose of this blog post is to help you get the most out of your efforts, whether going for a PB, QOM/KOM or something like the Segment Challenge.

First thing – know your segment!

As GI Joe says, knowing is half the battle! Make sure you know exactly where the segment starts, and where it ends. And if there are turns. You’re going to want to put nearly all of your energy into this, so best know the actual start and finish. Zoom in on those maps and figure out any landmarks or other tips so you know these exact spots!

Pre-ride your segment

Unless you already know the segment extremely well, it’s worth doing a pre-ride, and picking up on the nuances of the segment.

Be mindful around the start point!

Strava isn’t super accurate when it comes to telling if you’re ‘on’ or ‘off’ a segment. There have been a few times where I get home, upload my ride, and my segment effort is like 1mins longer than it should be. This is because I pre-rode the segment, and I thought I’d ridden far enough away from the start point before beginning my effort, but turns out it was tracking me the whole time on that effort. When you pre-ride, make sure you ride at least 100m past the start point to ‘reset’ the segment when giving it your real effort.

It’s actually a TT, so treat it like a TT

Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty – the first thing to keep in mind is that segments are essentially time trials. There’s a start and a finish, mixed terrain in the middle, and you want to cover that terrain as quickly as possible! But there are a few extra elements to consider, since you’re not doing them from a standing start. Like:

Consider the entry point

Speaking standing starts, these are a ‘flying start’ effort. If you’re familiar with track racing, one of the featured timed events is the Flying 200m Sprint. Riders get a 2-3 laps to build up speed, and launch into their timed effort.

Strava segments are very similar, so be mindful how you can best ‘start’ the segment carrying some speed.

Pacing

You’ll want to pace the effort out like any other TT: go a bit harder when there’s more resistance, ease off a bit when there’s less resistance. Resistance can be elevation or wind. (This of course is for longer segments, if it’s under 60sec you typically are going 100% the whole time.)

Weather

Windy days can play a huge factor in your effort. If you’ve only got one day to ride, then you’re stuck with the conditions of the day. But if you can pick from a few days, watch the wind direction, and ideally pick a day that’s blowing in the right general direction. (Or at least isn’t a headwind most of the effort!)

Pacing with power

If you train with power, you can easily figure out what your target wattage for the effort is. For example, if the segment will take you about 3mins, and you know your 3min peak power is 300w, you’ll want to control your effort. You probably should not be going 400w for the first minute – you will likely blow up and the last two minutes will be miserable!

There are some exceptions, like if it’s uphill the first minute, then flattens, but even then best only go 10-25% above your 3mins max power. Otherwise you’ll be sputtering out around 200w for the final minute, when you should be much closer to 300w, losing time.

I’ve made this mistake over and over and over. Respect the numbers – if you’re still feeling good towards the tail end of the effort, and think you can go above your peak power, pick it up then!

Sprint the end

If it’s a longer segment, like 10mins+, this probably won’t make much of a difference, but for shorter efforts, where seconds really do matter, you may gain a few seconds if you treat the end like a finish line, and really empty the tank the last 10-20 seconds.

Don’t be afraid to bail and redo

If you start out too hard, if there’s a slow vehicle in front of you, if it’s just not feeling ‘right’, don’t be afraid to bail on the effort, and restart. Or ride it out easy, and then redo. There’s no limit to how many times you can try on a Strava segment.

SAFETY!

Always be safe out there, and ride within your limits, and be mindful of road rules, traffic, and others on and near the road.

 


 

Final Helpful Items

That’s aboot it, bike fans!

Those are my main tips; there’s also a lot of strategy involved with each individual segment, there will be places you’ll want to go hard, go easier, even coast..it’s impossible to list every scenario, but these tips will help get the most out of your day out on the segment!

And here are a few more helpful Strava tips and highlights that ought to enhance your experience:

-> Desktop Browser

Use a web browser to preview your segments! It’s an infinitely better experience than using the app.

-> Sauce Browser Plugin

Sauce is a browser app/plugin for Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari that adds handy power charts and info to ride pages. Let’s you pull a LOT more useful info out of the ride view, highly recommended if you’re a data geek:

https://www.sauce.llc/

-> Kudos Page

This is a new one – there’s a page to show how many kudos you’ve given, as well as received, and who you’ve given them to, and who’s given to you! Who’s your Number One on Strava?

https://labs.strava.com/kodos/

-> Auto Hide Commutes & Other Automation

Thanks to my buddy Jim for highlighting this! It’s a nifty tool that allows you to set up ‘rules’ for each upload, and can auto-hide rides based on certain criteria; so if you want to avoid spamming your timeline with a bunch of short commutes, Zwift warm-ups and cool-downs, or those 5 second posts,  this might be helpful for you!

https://activityfix.com/

 


 

Below are some fun memes I’ve come across, hope they’re good for a laugh!

Thanks for rolling by and checking out my guide. Hope it’s helps out, and good luck with your segment efforts. Feel free to leave any of your own tips or thoughts in the comments section below!

– Dave

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