Sport and your chances of dying ….

Infographics! Man they’re cool (even if this one is more US centric). This one is wild, illustrating your chances of dying from doing anything from skiing to playing football to smoking to driving. Which activity do you think is the most deadly? Scroll down…

Drug cheats in cycling is bad – Strava cheats are the lowest …

Digital EPO


Digital EPO is a website that allows you to ‘enhance’ your ride data before you share it with your friends, teammates and so on. It lets you cheat, basically.

Countless riders have gone to great lengths over the years to convince people that they’re better than they actually are. Often that involves drugs, but drugs cost money, they’re potentially dangerous, and you run the risk of a ban. If you’re going to cheat, Digital EPO is an altogether less hazardous way of doing it.

Why go to all the trouble and pain of training and actually working up a sweat? You simply need to go for a ride at whatever intensity you like, upload your ride to GarminConnect or a similar performance-tracking website, then export it out as a TCX file.

Then you upload it to the Digital EPO website, entering the amount of ‘juice’ you want to add to your ride. So, you can increase your speed, lower your heart rate, or increase the amount of climbing you’ve done. Then you can upload the file to Strava or something similar and bask in your undeserved glory.

As an exercise in Mickey taking, we reckon it’s quite funny. They say that you know you’ve made it when people start lampooning you, so we guess that means Strava has definitely hit the big time.

We can’t see it going down too well with people who take their KOMs seriously, though. In fact, we’d urge you not to get involved. Cheats never prosper – ask multi-millionaire Lance Armstrong. Oh no, hang on, that doesn’t work.

Anyway, check it out here:

[Apologies if you saw this months ago, by the way, but it’s a new one on us and well worth sharing].


STRAVA – those KOM don’t always last long *or how to KOM hunt*

the email that says it all
the email that says it all

Yesterday bike ride and a surprising KOM status – then today gone – oh the fleeting fame.

Now this from Brian Lockhart HERE sums it up nicely

By now, most semi-serious cyclists have at least heard of Strava – the online application + community service that allows you to upload your GPS data from cycling and running workouts in order to see them mapped out, segmented, timed, and compared against the results of others who have covered the same terrain in the past. For cyclists and runners who are also gadget geeks, the service is an excellent way to gain additional insights into your workouts.

But if (in addition to being athletic and gadget / technology addicted) you also happen to be a competitive sort, Strava offers a whole additional level of entertainment. For those who train solo (which I do more often than not, via bicycle commuting), Strava allows you to answer the age-old nagging question in your head “wow, I wonder how fast I went up that hill compared to X”. (Where “X” can be anyone from your riding buddies to all of humanity.) Now, so long as the object of your aggression is also a Strava user, you can “race” against them and compare best times on a given section of road, regardless of whether or not you were there at the same time.

For anyone who has ever played a video game with a leaderboard, this is the same idea but in real life. I work in the videogame industry (I helped stand up the Xbox Live online gaming service and I’ve helped make a few racing games) and I’m keenly aware of the fun factor involved in adding the element of a public leaderboard to a game; it makes the fun of the game itself somehow feel more “purposeful” because you’re motivated to improve your standing on that list. The holy grail of leaderboards, of course, is the coveted #1 position. On Strava, that’s the “KOM” – short for “King of the Mountain“, a term reserved for climbs in major stage races where points are awarded to the top finishers of those individual stages. KOM points earn Climber’s Jerseys in real life. On Strava, they earn you online glory and bragging rights among your riding buddies. Plus it helps paint a giant bullseye on your back because those same Strava buddies will want to knock you off the top of that leaderboard.

The most mercinary Strava users engage in the sport of “KOM Hunting” – ruthlessly searching out climbs and their corresponding segments on Strava, then posting up top times and bagging the KOM medals accordingly. As of May 2012, Strava encourages this now more than ever, recently they added KOM achievements to their notifications stream. So now KOM hunting prowess is even more widely recognized. But KOM tropies remain elusive beats, how best to stalk and bag them for maximum glory? Well, I’m not much of a climber myself and can only watch in admiration of the true KOM cut-throats in my world, but I am a competition junkie and am always looking for ways to win. Even though at 6’4″ and 185lbs I can hardly expect to ever wear a climber’s jersey, I can still find KOM candidates for my trophy case if I look hard enough. Here’s how I KOM hunt:

1) Find a suitable target

Not everyone can climb like Contador, Schleck, Armstrong, Pantani, etc. so I’m mostly talking to the rest of us. For the not-so-skinny, it’s important to know what kind of terrain you do best on. TT monster? Find a nice stretch of road with no intersections or stoplights, and have at it. Power climber / sprinter? Focus on short ‘n brutal climbs that aren’t long enough to allow the real climbers to really shine through. Mad-skills MTB downhill champion? Yes, you can have a “reverse KOM” for the fastest time down a hill also!

2) Make sure it’s a “meaningful” segment.

Don’t just go make a segment on some super-secret road to nowhere that nobody else ever rides on, what’s the fun of being the king of a leaderboard with only 1 entry? To be a real King, you need subjects to rule over. Pick a segment that’s already got some traffic on it, the healthier ones already have a good number of Strava junkies making runs on them so it’s a fair “race” to attack.

Here’s a perfect target for me, for example. A short and semi-steep segment along my normal daily commute, that gets a decent amount of traffic from a wide variety of riders including several folks I race with. It’s not L’Alpe De Huez, but for anyone who commutes along this route in the Seattle Eastside region, it’s enough to get your heartrate up every morning for sure.

3) Scope out your competition

Ideally the segment of your affection is one you ride often (and therefore see often on Stravawhen you upload your data). This allows you to keep a close eye on the leaderboard, to see who the “big dogs” are. In my case, the leaderboard has been fairly static at the #1 position, held by a former racing teammate of mine (John Sindell, from Garage Racing here in Seattle) who is a MUCH stronger rider than me. There’s been a lot of churn below that #1 slot, and as of 5/15/2012 there have been 175 individual Strava riders on that segment, and 1278 runs up that hill. But for nearly a year, John’s held the KOM. I decided he’d had it long enough, and plotted a short term fitness peak that would allow me to potentially steal the KOM crown from him. He’s got plenty of others, he won’t mind losing one, right?

4) Strike without warning

All was going according to plan. After a winter and spring with very little training, I finally got in a few weeks of semi-regular riding and felt that I was ready to make an attempt on one of my morning commutes. But then the day before I planned to hit it with everything I had, I noticed a change at the top; someone had stolen the KOM from John and it wasn’t me!!! KOM hunting is merciless business, and another shark had entered the pool without my even knowing it. Who was this KOM ninja?!?!?

This KOM hunter had never before appeared on the leaderboard, but was clearly in the game. John’s record was 1:01, and this usurper beat it by 1 second for a new record of 1:00 even. So be it, this is the way of the hunt! The only problem (from my perspective) was that now John would eventually notice via Strava that he had lost his #1 on that segment. That would increase the likelihood of a retort, which (I feared) would push the top time out of my reach. I took notice of my new enemy, who was being praised online by his own subjects:

Oh yes, they will stand for quite some time. IF YOU ONLY MEASURE TIME IN HOURS!!!! BWUAHAHAHAHA!!!! <rubs hands together and laughs menacingly >

My new quarry had employed rule #4 and had struck without warning, but I knew that rule also. The next morning I had an extra scoop of EPO in my coffee before heading out for my own surprise attack: a 59 second long assault on the segment to take the crown. I had intended to steal it from John, but stealing it from the one who stole it is almost as much fun.

5) Taunt and heckle the vanquished mercilessly

A gentleman may not subscribe to rule #5, but as a longtime fan of the world of videogames I find it absolutely necessary to finish off a victory with a wee bit of smacktalkery. In this case I took to the internets, first via an loud and proclamatory email to my friends and teammates on that leaderboard who deserved to hear of my victory (including John, the original target of my attack). Some may feel this is disrespectful, and that KOMs are a private affair. To that I say “go back to France, Loser McLoserface!” because that’s a whole lot of loser talk. The whole point of the #1 spot on the leaderboard is to unlock the happy dance. And you better damn well believe I danced.

But what of the usurper, the surpise attacker from the day before who only managed to hold onto the crown for a day? I don’t know him personally, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give him a friendly jab from out of nowhere to serve as salt for his fresh wounds:

(I’m a big fan of – I suggest you become one as well.)

6) Await the inevitable counterattacks

If merely taking over the KOM isn’t action enough to ensure the swarm of enemies ramping up in your face to try to steal it away from you, then properly following step #5 above will guarantee it. This is the nervous and sweaty palmed dark side of KOM hunting – living in fear with a bullseye on your back. The pressure is too much for most people, but luckily for you dear KOM hunter you are NOT most people or you would’t be reading this. Just weather the storm from high atop your throne carved from a solid block of awesome, and enjoy your new KOM as long as you can. As of this writing, I still hold the crown from the KOM battle described in this post. I’ll update it if (when) the hoard takes me down. On that note, you’ve nearly reached the end of this tutorial, we’re on the the 7th and final step!

Update: hah, that was fast – my taunting stirred up the hornet’s nest and I was quickly relegated to 3rd on the leaderboard; my rule only lasted ~ 7 hours.  🙂

7) Repeat from step #1

What are you still here for? Get back to #1 ASAP!!! You’ve got riding to do, KOM hunter! Get cracking, your enemies are out riding RIGHT NOW. The KOM crown isn’t welded to your skull, keep moving or someone will grab it!

So long as I have breath in my lungs I shall wheeze my tired fat ass up climbs as fast as I can, in search of KOM points. A great fictional warrior once belched forth “Every rider dies, not every rider lives.” KOM hunters truly know life because they breathe harder and deeper – for increased oxygen, for increased power, and for more Strava KOM glory!!!

Related reading:

Found a good article on KOM hunting over at CyclingTips!

Updated 06/21/2012 with more related reading:

Old news to some (but was new to me) – William “Kim” Flint was killed in 2010 going after a downhill road KOM segment, when he lost control while braking to avoid a car.  GPS data from his bike showed he was traveling faster than the posted speed limit.  Yesterday (2 years after the incident), the family of that rider filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against Strava, claiming they were negligent and therefore partially responsible for the cyclist’s death.

As I am any time I hear about a cyclist dying in a riding accident, I’m saddened that someone lost their life while participating in a sport they love.  But at the same time, in this particular incident I’m disappointed that his family is attempting to go after Strava for this.  The rider owns responsibility for how they ride.  That means you have personal responsibility for obeying the speed limits, traffic signals, stop signs, etc.  If you ignore those rules then get hurt or killed as a result of ignoring those rules, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.  Cycling is dangerous enough already, you’re taking risks every time you head out for a ride.  Manage those risks accordingly to maximize your odds of having a good time and minimize your chances for injury or death.  Going after a downhill road KOM on Strava is (in my opinion) a ridiculous risk, one I’d never try myself even though I’m a pretty good descender.  It’s just way too risky (not to mention illegal if you’re speeding) on roads that aren’t closed to traffic – if you really want to go for downhill KOM attempts leave it to offroad (MTB) or closed-course riding sessions if available.  Me, I’m sticking to traditional KOM work – going UPhill.

My condolences go out to William Flint’s family.  But please don’t blame Strava for the excessive risk taking of some of its users.  William took those risks all on his own, and paid dearly for them.

There’s a nice blog entry on the Strava site that makes a lot of sense when thinking about this incident:

We know the rules. Laws and rules are created for our protection. Cycling, running and swimming are inherently dangerous and following the law, and common sense, when it comes to traffic, weather, or conditions, reduces our odds of getting hurt or hurting others. It’s as simple as that.”

Strava have updated their run analysis

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 22.11.38


Great news, runners: your new run activity page on is now live. We spoke to tons of you about what’s important when viewing your activities and those of others, and have incorporated your needs and experiences as runners into this new page.  Get more background around our redesigned run activity pages here.

See Your Race Results Like Never Before
Layered on top of the new run activity page is Strava’s Premium Pace Analysis, available now to Premium members for just $6 per month or $59 per year. In addition to Pace Distribution and Heart Rate Analysis, runners can now tag their run as a “Race,” giving runners interactive and granular pace data at every point during the race.

With Race Analysis, Premium members can now enjoy:

  • A pace bar graph showing your pace fluctuation, as well as your mile/km trends

  • Visualization of your meaningful race splits, such as 5K splits for a marathon

  • Pace scrubbing data to analyze every critical point during the race

  • Projected finish time data based on your performance throughout the race

  • Finish flag with the finishing time, signifying the race achievement

see your race performance in all its glory.


Great ride up the Crow Ride – what Glaswegians roadies do on a Sunday

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Headed out this morning with the meetup road cycling crew and headed up to campsies and up the Crow Road. Nice banter – Paul joined us for the first time in 5 months – confessed to smoking 30 a day again and immediately was off the tail. On the 3rd stop he caught up and said ‘on ya go’ so we did.

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Other Paul stormed up the Crow – I was 300m behind and tried to catch him on climb and by the end didnt even see him until the car park at the top ….

campsies in distance

So nice to get out on the bike – was using my new rapha gear today – so well made and put together – I think I could become a fan.

Came back and went to the lovely Siempre Bike Cafe for a post ride coffee and soup … lovely

008 and a half – Mario Cipollini saves the day

In conjunction with Eurobike 2012 and the release of his new bike model, Mario Cipollini released a featurette film showcasing…. well, the big cippo himself…. and to some extent the bike too. Here’s a quick synopsis: Evil competitors, who seem to be modern day right winger German 5 axix (or republicans) but live in Shanghai, are on the hunt to steal Mario’s patented, new bike design, the BOND-ATOMLINK. It’s up to Mario to save the day, get the girl and keep the plans safe. To find out how it unfolds, you’ll have to watch the film for yourself.

[vimeo w=600&h=338]

What strikes us most about the film, besides the fantastic performances, is that the film really does sell the image of  Mario more that it sells the bike itself. If you’ve been following some of Cipollini’s previous forays into bike films, you’ll realize that he is as much about the brand as the bike is. The same showmanship and bravado that he so famously exhibited during his years as a professional rider haven’t faded with the years. He seems as fit and suave as ever. Is he flamboyant and over the top? Sure. But he’s stayed true to his image and built a bike company on that image. So when you look to buy one of his bikes, you’re also buying (into) a bit of the overall Mario Cipollini “brand”.

And if you can cast your gaze away from Mario for long enough to look at his bikes, you’ll find a beautifully, well constructed machine. Would we want one? You bet.

Glasgow Half Marathon

I am just up to the computer now after doing the Glasgow Half Marathon 1:30:36  – having a massage (very nice too) and a spot of lunch.

the route

This morning cousin Benji came across to race as well – he did a 1:38 3 weeks ago and has a PB of 1:28 but both of us thought a 1:35 time was on the cards so we were probably going to run together.

Glasgow was mobbed – we must have been a good 100m from the front – luckily in the first group to go – so the off was more like a slow amble and then the first 2km were just weaving through people / runners I suspect not entirely truthful about their finish times and maybe a bit closer to the front than they should have been. Well actually maybe it was simply that i was too far back because in 21km only a handful of runners passed me and I must have overtaken a good 1000 others.

Perhaps the euphoria of always overtaking explains my time … I felt great and was feeling very fast and steady. Ran with cousin for the first 5km and then gradually edged forward and lost him about the 9km mark. Whenever there was a corner I looked back figuring he would reappear at some point but it wasn’t to be today. As I was crossing the bridge a few km from the finish i figured i was doing well and thought it may be possible to pass the 1H30 mark easily besting my PB of 1:31:27 …. well as it happens it wasnt to be. Still managed to leg the last section past a Mr Weavy – one of those runners doing the weave of fatigue we have seen in old marathon films. Then as i crossed the line felt great then looked ahead as a runner was emptying a bright orange stomach content a few foot away – I did not need to have seen that ….

The glasgow course is great – pretty flat and apart from my little moan about the crowded start was a fun event. Well marshalled good water points and managed to see a few faces i knew ….

At the end my gps (and cousin Benji’s said it was over HM distance … his said 13.3miles and mine said 21.3km – so only a bit over. If so I broke my record for the official HM distance. HUZZAH

Did you run Glasgow today? If so let me know