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Stravagate: "It's never been more important for us to become self-sustaining"; App developer pans Strava overhaul strategy; BBC reporting of Carol Kirkwood collision criticised; Cyclist spotted on M25; Time > distance says Boardman + more on the live blog

Welcome to Tuesday's live blog, with Jack Sexty leading the morning and afternoon segments and Alex Bowden moving up the leaderboard this evening (we won't be charging you though)...
19 May 2020, 15:43
"It’s never been more important for us to become self-sustaining", say unprofitable Strava

Another criticism levelled at Strava over the winding down of features on the free version of their platform is the sheer poor timing during a global pandemic; friends of road.cc staffers have reported that their parents, aunts, uncles and cousins have been signing up in droves to record their daily exercise since the lockdown began. 

A lot of these casual new recruits could now be put off, especially Android and desktop users who will no longer be able to keep a training log. Strava maintains that they simply have to become profitable or there might not be a Strava; plus, they need to think about their own employees too... 

In response to allegations that the changes will have 'shut down' many third-party apps, Strava deny this and say the overhaul "only changes how segment information is displaying."

19 May 2020, 15:39
How to get more people on bikes? Talk in time not distance, says Chris Boardman

It might seem daunting to those new to cycling/cycle commuting who work out the lenghr of their commute in miles or kilometres, and then think of having to do that every day; but it might sound a lot less challenging to talk of journeys in how long they will take, rather than how far according to Chris Boardman. What do you think?

19 May 2020, 15:09
BBC criticised for reporting Carol Kirkwood collision as a 'bike accident'

The BBC have been accused of playing down the details of an incident in which their own weather presenter Carol Kirkwood was knocked off her bike by a car driver. The article states in the first paragraph that Kirkwood was "knocked off her bike by a car", but some have accused the headline of being misleading.

Colleagues and friends from the media have been sending their best wishes to Kirkwood throughout the day, who returned to screens this morning after spending three weeks away to recover from her injuries. 

19 May 2020, 14:48
Police hunting for teenagers who knocked cyclist off his bike at traffic lights

The incident in Chesser, Edinburgh was caught on camera by a driver, who arrived at a red light during an altercation between a man and two youths. When the light goes green the man is knocked off his bike by the youth in the blue hoodie while the other rides up on the left hand side. 

The cyclist in red has been urged to come forward to police according to SWD Media, with Professor Chris Oliver of the Spokes Cycle Campaign commenting: "'Cyclist to cyclist 'bike rage' is very uncommon and is related to other explosive outbursts of anger such as road rage. With such a young person committing this act of violence, one wonders if he will later go on to car road rage later on in life."

19 May 2020, 15:24
Wold Top Brewery are holding a virtual sportive
wold top brewery sportive.PNG

To replace the Wold Top sportive that would have taken place this year, Yorkshire brewery Wold Top are holding a virtual event instead. Participants have to log 60km over the course of five days to complete 'The Lockdown 60', then £10 of each £15 entry fee will be donated to charity. Thoe who complete it then get a 10% discount code for online orders at woldtopbrewery.co.uk

Let's hope participants who want to indulge in some of Wold Top's beer to get into the spirit of things do so after the virtual miles, or at least sip gradually until it's over... you can enter here

19 May 2020, 12:57
"I understand why Strava did it, but I don't really agree with the way they have gone about it": app developer gives thoughts on Strava updates
strava logo 2020 orange

An app developer has been in touch with road.cc to give their opinion on the Strava updates that has seen the segment leaderboard been reduced to the top 10 for non-paying users, plus a whole host of other changes that put subscribers first. 

Our anonymous source confirmed that the changes don't affect their app, but said:

"I'd be pretty annoyed if they did. I feel bad for all the 40,000 or so apps it will affect. I understand why Strava did it and I know they needed to do something to become profitable, but I don't really agree with the way they have gone about it.

"I woke up this morning to stories all over my news feed about it but didn't hear anything from Strava until after midday. I think Strava should have given developers much more notice. To just cut off some API endpoints like that out of the blue is not a nice move.

"But I get why they are doing it. As a developer I often feel like people don't understand the effort that goes into making apps and the cost of running them. There will be huge costs for Strava running databases and backing up those databases, and data transfer costs, and hosting costs and API costs. I'm a paid up Strava member now and I feel happy to pay for apps and services that are well developed and useful. The problem is that we as a society have seem to become stuck on the idea that everything online should be free.

"Facebook is free, Gmail and Outlook are free... so why can't Strava be? The answer is you pay for facebook and gmail by forgoing your privacy. I'd happily pay a small subscription to keep my privacy."

Do you agree?

19 May 2020, 10:24
Why did Strava never go down the ads route?

Like Facebook, YouTube and other internet giants who still operate a service that is largely free to use, adverts surely would have filled a huge hole in Strava's finances; after all, they admitted last night that the company still isn't profitable. Why is this? As they state above, with a small team of just 180 and operations focussed on development, this would have taken much valuable time and effort away from improving the platform. 

Taking to Twitter to defend the changes this morning, Strava insist that the free version will always be "high quality and useful for athletes", as users can still record segments and see the top 10 on the leaderboard. 

19 May 2020, 10:02
Not sticking with Strava? Here are some alternatives suggested by you

We had a number of shout-outs for Komoot, Golden Cheetah, Garmin Connect and the Ordnance survey maps; although for the majority of you there isn't an alternative, and Strava is four quid a month well spent...

19 May 2020, 09:28
A summary of the Strava changes
Strava logo 2016.png

For those who are reading about all the changes to Strava and are confused about what they actually are, here's a brief summary - you can also find a more detailed breakdown on off.road.cc

- For non-paying Strava users, only the top 10 of the leaderboard will now show on Strava segments

- The segment leaderboard soon won't show on most third-party apps

- You can no longer use Strava for route planning unless you pay for a subscription 

- Non-paying users on an Android device or desktop can no longer view their training log

- Strava's subscription model is no longer called 'Summit', you're now just called a plain old subscriber

-  'Sponsored integrations' (essentially paid content) have ended 

19 May 2020, 08:54
Strava changes: Veloviewer confident most of their users "won't be affected at all"

As previously mentioned, it's not just Strava users who will be hugely affected by the sweeping changes to the platform, as many third-party apps based around segments will be hugely impacted, or at worst will cease to function at all. Veloviewer - an app that provides visuals of Strava data - are one of the few that will come out of this relatively unscathed, as a good proportion of their users pay for Strava and the claim 99% of their site "will work just as before."

Veloviewer have summarised the changes here; essentially non-paying Strava users will no longer see segment placings on Veloviewer, and the 'Veloviewer Score' - which estimates your 'prowess' across all your Strava segments - won't be available to those who aren't paying for Strava either. 

19 May 2020, 09:22
This week's motorway cyclist is on the M25

The latest one to join our growing archive is this chap, who was seen pootling along near junction 25 of the M25 this morning. The Daily Mail's headline reports that the cyclist was riding along the hard shoulder 'without a helmet', although we're not sure that's entirely relevant...

19 May 2020, 08:39
Are you sticking with Strava?
 

Take part in our poll. No subscription required...

19 May 2020, 08:11
It's all kicking off, as Strava announces sweeping changes that takes away the full segment leaderboard for non-paying users
strava leaderboard no longer free - 19 may 2020

Global pandemic? Economy collapsing? It all paled into significance at some point last night when Strava announced a whole host of sweeping changes to their platform that means the full leaderboard for segments are no longer free... a devastating blow for the casual KOM hunter.

Cue furious responses across social media; and perhaps even more devastatingly, the changes have now made a whole host of third party apps essentially useless overnight (for free Strava users anyway), because the ones that are based around segments without the Strava Live Segments feature (such as Wahoo or Garmin computers) have just had that functionality removed. 

As you can see above plenty have leapt to Strava's defence; at the end of the day, the company needs to make money. Last night founders Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath also sent out a refreshingly honest email explaining their reasons for the changes. Here it is in full: 

If nothing else, 2020 has been a year of regaining perspective. A silver lining of hard times like these is that they inspire introspection and focus – What matters the most to us? And how do we live up to that?

Our answers to those questions have only gotten clearer in the past few months, and we’re now leading the company with a single purpose: rededicating Strava to our community.Strava athletes deserve an affordable and constantly improving experience, and we hope you’ve noticed how focused we’ve been this year on delivering that. Our small but mighty team of 180 has released 51 athlete-facing improvements already in 2020, from Apple Watch syncing, to new maps and metrics for snowsports, to a huge update to our Routes features, and a lot more. We’ve also removed some distractions, such as Sponsored Integrations (the closest we’ve ever come to putting ads in the feed). And we returned the option to sort your feed in chronological order. We heard how much that change drove you nuts, and admit it took a really long time to respond.

Dedicating Strava to the community is also a commitment to longevity. We are not yet a profitable company and need to become one in order to serve you better. And we have to go about it the right way – honest, transparent and respectful to our athletes.

This means that, starting today, a few of our free features that are especially complex and expensive to maintain, like segment leaderboards, will become subscription features. And from now on, more of our new feature development will be for subscribers – we’ll invest the most in the athletes who have invested in us. We’ve also made subscription more straightforward by removing packs and the brand of Summit. You can now use Strava for free or subscribe, simple.

This focus on subscription ensures that Strava can serve athletes decades from now, and in an up-front way that honors the support of the athletes we serve today. We plan to take what we earn from these changes and reinvest straight back into building more and better features – not devising ways to fill up your feed with ads or sell your personal information. We simply want to make a product so good that you’re happy to pay for it.

"A monthly subscription costs as much as a couple energy bars, and we think that’s money well spent. But we also know, especially lately, that there are athletes struggling to make ends meet and that the free version of Strava must remain high quality and useful. Rest assured that we will always offer a version of Strava for free, and you belong in this community whether you subscribe or not. We’re betting all our chips on you, either way. We hope you’ll bet on us."

19 May 2020, 08:07
BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood says she was knocked off her bike by a car

The presenter announced live on BBC Breakfast this morning that the reason she's been away from the show is because she was knocked off her bike by a car driver. 

19 May 2020, 08:02
Sir Bradley Wiggins announces separation from his wife Cath

Wiggins took to social media to announce that he and his wife Cath have split after 16 years of marriage. 

19 May 2020, 10:52

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Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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