"Be nice say hi" poster from The British Horse Society and We Are Cycling UK.

An open letter to Strava

Dear Strava

I really like your app. I’ve been using it for many years now. In the early days and as an early adopter I even managed to be King of the Mountain once or twice. Or at least on those hillocks (that’s a better description) so far off the beaten track absolutely nobody else had heard of them, let alone ridden up them. Now I have to settle for Local Legend which again is easy to achieve when you live in the middle of nowhere. But that’s not why I’m writing. 

No, I’d like the boffins at Strava HQ to invent a new category of winner. Or perhaps I should say loser. I suggest you call it Local Bellend.

Local Bellend

Here’s how it’d work. Cyclists earn points for being polite, not just to one another but to other road users too, including pedestrians (no more seeing how far out of their skins you can make them jump) and horse riders (no more seeing how far you can make them fall). Say “hello” or “good morning” or “what a gorgeous day to be alive” or “coming through” and you’d get, say, 5 points per politeness. Okay, I appreciate it may be a bit tricky to design and will require accessing our ride computer or phone microphones. But, hey, if GCHQ and Google can eavesdrop on us why not Strava, eh Alexa? 

Now at the end of each week or month the cyclist with the fewest points would become the Local Bellend. One you wouldn’t want for your virtual trophy cabinet. But one I reckon there’d be stiff competition for.

I’ve been experimenting. When I go out on my state-of-the art, carbon-fibre, weighs-less-than-a-sparrow road bike, clad only in the most eye-wateringly expensive (and eye watering) stretch Lycra, fellow cyclists on similar bikes and in similar clothing say “hi” or, at the very least, raise their eyebrows slightly skywards (it strikes me it’s about the only part of their body they don’t shave or pluck). 

When I go out on my mountain bike wearing mud-spattered baggy shorts and a sweatshirt, the same cyclists treat me without so much as a wave. Fellow mountain bikers, however, don’t just wave, they do a bunny hop or a back flip or a forward roll. Like puppies pleased to see another puppy. 

Cyclism

A kind of cycling apartheid has emerged. Elitism might be a better word. What I call cyclism. And it’s got to stop. So calling out these cyclistes for what they are – Local Bellends – would be a good place to start. What do these guys (and it is manly guys I’ve found) call their rides when they get home? Misery guts? Bah humbug? Stop the world I want to get off? I’ll have to update You Can See the Dags to accommodate.

I guess it might take a few weeks for you to update the Strava app. In the meantime I urge polite cyclists everywhere to do what I do when confronted with a rude one. Call out (under your breath if they look bigger and faster than you) “Bellend!” Makes me feel better anyway.


You can read my other cycling-related posts here (if you’ve got nothing better to do – like go for an actual ride).

We Are Cycling UK
British Horse Society

Published by

Richard

Training company boss by day. Cyclist, runner, poet and a whole heap of other things too including son of a mother living with dementia.

12 thoughts on “An open letter to Strava”

  1. I like to call the cycling snobs – Rapha w*#kers, just because you wear pink socks and funky kit doesn’t make you better than anyone else!! I try and wave or say hello or morning to everyone I see no matter what their recreational fancy! Sometimes if I am dying whilst climbing a giant hill I might just nod but I try to acknowledge people, because why the hell not. I worry about human decency and the lack of social skills in general tbh!!

    1. Nothing wrong with pink socks Julie. Just bad manners. And having cycled with you I know just how polite you are.

  2. What a great idea Richard! I couldn’t agree more. If only it could happen.

    I often shout far worse than “Bellend!” at them after they have passed as it frustrates the hell out of me. I acknowledge riders of all types of bike when I’m out on the road or trails. I’ll also nod or say “Hi!” to any runners or walkers I pass when out in the countryside. And as for seeing horse riders, it’s not just politeness, it’s essential from a safety perspective that we slow down and warn them of us approaching, pull to the opposite side of the road and keep pedalling slowly to avoid the noise of loud freewheels.

    I think it’s just an example of society in general, and which people see life as glass half full (you and I for instance) or glass half empty (the Bellends!) 🙂

      1. Haha! Many Richard unfortnately! I should have stated I ackowledge people when they pass in the opposite direction of course 😉

  3. I have to agree with all these comments,I bet they would say hello when they had a puncture etc. And people dressed in BLACK is another thing I do not understand,have they a Death Wish,buy a good rear light at least,on a Sunny day you are not even seen is the shadow of trees. I will go back to Sleep now!!

  4. I have a few friends who ride with our FLAB Social Rides group in Gateshead and South Tyneside who are an absolute credit to the community. They are genuinely the nicest, kindest people I know. They have pleasant greetings for everyone on the tracks and are especially great at encouraging the mini humans we pass. I think these local legends would be very much at top of the end of leaderboard as far away from local bellend as it they possibly could be.

    I always try to offer a friendly ey up to every cyclist I pass and welcome the cheers from amused bystanders when they see “Fat Lad At The Back” emblazoned across my back

    1. As one of the occasional riders with you I agree it a pleasant experience. Always say hi to those we meet even the Sheep on the hills

  5. Alex, you and your pals are my kind of cyclists. I may be a softy southerner but I’ll give you a big “eyup” – if that’s how you spell it – when we flyby.

  6. Unfortunately Strava is from Salt Lake City and is probably populated by Mormons who would not know what a bellend is and if they did, their region forbids them from swearing, having sex for fun or drinking tea. However I love the concept. When I’m on my lovely Specialized Bybrid and am seen by MTB types the recognise my swoopy S and are very friendly. Same thing when I am on my lovely Italian road bike, the lycra boys all acknowledge me, but I could be riding my shopping bike knacked and they all would ignore me. I say hello to everyone.

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