Don't Go Chasing QOMs...
“Uh oh, Jane Doe just beat your time on Some Random Road by A Marginal Number of Seconds. Got what it takes to reclaim your crown? Good luck and be safe.” The summer riding season is in full force, and Strava is pinging me, what seems like multiple times a day, to let me know that my proverbial crown is being handed off to someone else. My situation this summer is a little unique, as in, I’m not riding (or racing) at all. And even if I was in full-on hyper race mode, there is one thing I would not be doing: chasing QOMs.
While I understand the benefits of Strava for others, it has never been an activity (is Stravaing a recognized verb now?) that I participated in, it’s a tool that I used for my training in conjunction with TrainingPeaks. I used to joke when I was militantly Anti-Strava that no matter how many trophies or QOMs I ‘earned’ on a ride, I always made the activity private lest drawing attention to myself (not to flatter my, ahem, former abilities)...well, that, and to avoid becoming fixated on achievements that ultimately held no bearing.
Setting goals and pushing yourself on the bike is fantastic, but so is riding your bike to the market with your friends. Furthermore, chasing Strava segments can be straight up dangerous. This isn't implying that anyone is intentionally going ham and becoming careless on a descent, but adrenaline is a thing! We just want everyone to be safe. And stoked.
Here are just a few things you can do instead of chasing QOMs:
Race Your Bike
Do your competitive juices start flowing when you’re chasing a spot on the leaderboard? Do you thrive on working hard in a group? If you want some results, ‘tis the season to hop in a bike race! Whether it’s road, mountain, or gravel the summer is filled with awesome events (check USA Cycling, your local cycling association, or seek underground events). Not only will you get your name on a result sheet, but you may win a pair of socks or even some beer. That’s way cooler than a digital trophy.
Ride to your favorite coffee shop and/or Farmer’s Market.
Whether you’re with a friend, significant other, dog, or just flying solo, spending a slow Sunday morning pedaling to a neighborhood cafe or Farmer’s Market pretty much negates any expectation (except for finding the best espresso+pastry combo). Still up for a challenge? See how many veggies you can haul back on your bike.
Practice Hucking the Gnar
Find your local bike park or hit some trail. Focus on clearing features, working on different lines, and practicing some sweet tricks. Leave the full roadie kit at home. Also an option: constructing sweet jumps outside of your house a la Napoleon Dynamite style: "Wow, you got like three feet of air that time!" Elbows up, butt out, boom.
Explore Your City
It's easy to overlook urban gems when you're on a training ride and hunting for specific segments, especially climbs. Go on a hunt for street art, check out abandoned industrial areas, peep at swanky homes in different neighborhoods... If you slow down and cruise around familiar territory, you'll be surprised at the gems scattered throughout!
Find (or start!) a FWOD chapter
You've probably seen FWOD (For Women Only, Duh) mentioned here on Pretty Damned Fast. It's a great opportunity around different cities to slow down, connect with rad women, and just enjoy the social aspects of riding. There are established FWOD groups in Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Oakland, Philly, Toronto, and more - you could easily start one in your city, too!
Of course, there are hundreds of other things you can do on your bike. That's why riding bikes is so awesome. Again, motivation and goals that arise from social media like Strava can be great, but don't forget to let go of competition and numbers every once in awhile. And even though TLC suggests "please stick to the rivers and lakes you're used to." I say go explore the unknown, ride away from established Strava segments. You never know where the road (or trail) will take you.