The modern-day version of just about everything is now virtually fully encompassed by digitalism.
With the likes of high-speed internet, smartphone apps and their advanced delivery methods, tech companies have made it easier than ever to record, monitor and encourage competition for a range of once fun and recreational activities – the cycling industry has now also fallen victim to these new-era ways!
Fitness apps primarily designed for cycling and running are the next addition and proceeding steps to push us further in the direction of competition while the social aspects of group exercise start to diminish.
Strava seems to be one of the major contributors to the concerns, and although the concept of these apps has barely surfaced, we’re already seeing small signs of big changes.
Let’s dig into things a little deeper:
What is Strava?
Without delving into its technical operation, Strava is essentially a fitness app allowing users of all skill levels and capabilities to compete within a virtual, online realm without the need to actually be cycling alongside one another.
The app technology monitors and records you’re cycling achievements remotely creating an addictive yearn for showing others your accomplishments.
It uses GPS tracking offering the ability for athletes to join challenges, display and share achievements and follow others.
While Strava encourages you to switch into competition mode en route or rather any time it feels practical for you to do so, recreational cyclists and industry experts may have very mixed opinions on whether these apps are useful or doing us more harm than good.
We can look at both sides of the debate below:
The Benefits of Cycling Apps
Although there are a few newly discovered hiccups in the concept, it’s not all bad news for fitbits and tech products. Here are some of the advantages of being a part of the competitive cycling online network:
- No need to wait for fellow cyclists to be available for group rides
- Inspires and encourages goal setting
- Motivates riders to exercise more
- Keeps you in the loop with how others are tracking
- Provides easily defined and comparable metrics
- GPS functionality traces your movements for added security
- Data and stats orientated
- Post and display your adventures to followers while exploring new routes.
The Strava Mentality – Negative Aspects
With smart watches now almost capable of doing everything your phone does, cyclists don’t even need to stop to hone in on their competitive desire. A flick of the wrist or a light touch of a button mid-ride are the same convenient creations contributing to the problems.
Now although it’s arguable that the issues stem from the technology and not necessarily from the apps themselves, however they certainly aren’t making things easier in terms of combatting anti-social cycling.
With so many social media inspired features set as the foundation for these apps, it seems as though most of their focus has been placed on boasting, gaining followers and the need for acknowledgement. And this shouldn’t be something positioned at the forefront of the significance for regular exercise or incorporated into an interest intended to be a hobby.
Should we be preparing for a lonely cycling world?
When the primary purpose of an app is to encourage competition it’s basically fuelling a platform for addiction, self-satisfaction and peer recognition.
Platforms like Strava want cyclists to buy-in to features and benefits such as building communities, friends and teams. All of this is well and good except you’re forgetting one thing – all of this is only accessible and is happening online.
Unlike regular social cycling, your connections, followers or ‘friends’ online are people and competitors that you’ll likely never even meet or associate with any other parts of your life.
It’s important to remember that recreational cycling is about more than one-upmanship. It’s about personal interaction, having a laugh and the comradery between people who share a passion.
Are competitive apps phasing out social cycling?
The long answer to this questions is, ‘not at the moment, but how long before group riding is torn apart or becomes no longer viable or socially-orientated?’
Strava offer features like virtual clubs, groups and rides you can sign up for eliminating the need for physical people to keep you company on the road, while simultaneously wanting to compete using the app.
Without looking much further into the app’s features, it’s already clear that there’s sufficient reason for some indecisiveness on whether you’ll regret introducing it into your life.
This is where technological advancement, once again, cops a bad wrap for negatively affecting our lives as human beings. Social cycling will likely be always here to stay, however we might start to feel the ‘social’ element of it dissipate over time.
What’s next for recreational cycling?
What’s in store for social cycling over the next few years is anyone’s guess. It’s already fast becoming a struggle to keep up and maintain a grasp on technology and it’s influences, let alone what we could be exposed to in the near or distant future.
Whether you’re the fiercely competitive, Lance Armstrong type or just enjoy a calm weekend cruise with your buddies, cycling apps and their stigma are not only sticking around for good, but rather growing in popularity and demand.
At the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice and how you like to spend your time on two wheels. It’s time to say goodbye to lockdown procedures and start getting back into group rides this summer.
For whatever sort of cycling you fancy, as always, happy cycling! Drop us a line today via our Contact Us page for further information on 2021 bike models, essential gear and other cycling-related products.