A cyclist in Scotland who has amassed more than 1,300 KOMs on Strava uses an avatar on the social network of one of the most frightening characters in horror fiction to instil some light-hearted terror into the hearts of his rivals.
Ross Meffen, aged 38 and from East Kilbride, uses the likeness of Pennywise the child-snatching clown from Stephen King’s 1986 novels It as his profile picture on the site.
As a result, the first some Strava users will know of when they have lost a coveted KOM to him is when they receive a message from Strava notifying them, complete with the creepy clown’s picture, reports the Sunday Mail, with Twitter user @euancx tweeting a picture of the article.
Meffen, who works as a chef at a hotel in Glasgow, told the newspaper: “At the end of the day I quite enjoy taking KOMs away from people, so I like to joke about there being a menacing, aggressive undercurrent to it.
"The evil clown is a good fit," he added, referring to the Pennywise cvharacter now terrifying a new generation thanks to this year's movie based on It.
“I don’t care if it’s commuters, club riders or the occasional professionals – I’ll take their KOMs just the same.”
Many of those whose fastest times he has beaten on segments on Strava to bag a KOM subsequently contact him through the social network.
“I generally get a lot of friendly banter,” he explained, mainly from strangers who have lost their KOMs.
“I’ll have people asking me if the motorbike is working again, usually just having a laugh or congratulating me.”
Sometimes the messages aren’t so good-natured, however.
“You also get the very occasional abuse when some guys accuse you of doing the route in a car,” he said.
“That definitely goes on to some extent but it’s a very sad thing to do.”
Given the number of KOMs he owns, inevitably Meffen loses some now and again and sees it as a challenge to regain them.
He said: “I’ll generally have a good go at taking it back again and that means the other guy has a challenge to get it back.”
Among the cyclists from whom he has taken KOMs are John Archibald, Scottish time trial champion and brother of Rio 2016 team pursuit Olympic gold medallist, Katie Archibald.
And while Meffen has at times lost KOMs to participants in professional races ridden on the same roads he cycles on, he has also managed to hang on to some.”
But despite his astonishing collection of KOMs, he said there was no secret diet or training plan behind his ability to bag them.
“I eat whatever I fancy, the good stuff and the bad,” he said.
“I feel that the more training you do, the better you get – simple as that,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.