Returning to Kyoto, to Hot Summer Cycling and Destroying my iPhone
Ascending Through Layers with an isolated cloudburst in the background -- Monroeville, Ohio, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Ascending Through Layers
with an isolated cloudburst in the background

I'm back in Kyoto, after spending the better part of a month with my folks in Ohio. Mom continues to recover from her February stroke. I snapped a few photos out the window as we crossed The States on the Cleveland → San Francisco flight.

Splash of Sun -- Bellevue, Ohio, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Splash of Sun

An hour later crusing along well above the clouds, I noticed another plane keeping pace with us in the far distance (just a tiny speck, dead center in this next photo).

Traveling Companion the tiny speck in the center of the frame is another plane -- West Liberty, Iowa, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/125 sec, f/14, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Traveling Companion
the tiny speck in the center of the frame is another plane

Not quite the closeup view from eight years ago. 🙂

Still There an hour and a half later.... or maybe it's a different plane -- Woodrow, Colorado, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/11, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
Still There
an hour and a half later.... or maybe it's a different plane
Bleak new Bishop, California -- Bishop, California, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/200 sec, f/11, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Bleak
new Bishop, California
Contorted Canals one wonders about all the factors that contribute to such a herky -jerky path -- Patterson, California, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/320 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Contorted Canals
one wonders about all the factors that contribute to such a herky-jerky path
Spacious Property not many homes in this part of Tracy, California -- Tracy, California, United States -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/8, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
Spacious Property
not many homes in this part of Tracy, California

I arrived back home in Kyoto last Wednesday evening, and slept well the first night. Jetlag has been much less of a problem lately. It used to crush me for weeks after returning. Looking back at my blog, it turns out that I have two blog posts entitled The Mystery of Jetlag, one 10 years ago and another four years ago. Lately it's been so much better... maybe my current higher level of fitness helps? Still a mystery.

The next morning, I thought I should do some exercise to truly wake myself up, so I went on a bike ride. It took a while to get everything set up, so I didn't get started until 9am. Kyoto is hot and humid in the summer, and it was 28°C (82F) by the time I left.

Hot in Ohara crappy iPhone camera doesn't do the scene justice -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/2000 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Hot in Ohara
crappy iPhone camera doesn't do the scene justice

The ride went well at first and despite not trying all that hard, I got PRs on the first climb, so I guess my fitness level hadn't dropped too much in the month away. I went into the mountains of Shiga Prefecture to a big climb (5km @ 8.4%) on an isolated, little-used road I've been wanting to try...

Heading In temperature now 35°C (95F) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/1200 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading In
temperature now 35°C (95F)

While on this climb I was suddenly overcome with deep fatigue. I think it was jetlag and not heat or The Bonk (lack of calories). I literally lay down in the middle of the road and closed my eyes for a while.

Fellow Traveler -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/40 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Fellow Traveler

Rejuvenated after a 20-minute rest, I finished the climb at a leisurely pace, eventually just missing the worst time recorded for the segment. 🙂

The little guy in the previous photo was just the start of the most nature I'd seen on a ride... I was continually joined by some critter or another.... snakes, crickets, deer, small lizards (salamanders?), butterflies, toads. Typing it out like this, the list doesn't seem that impressive so perhaps I'm forgetting the bulk of it, but I had a sense of amazement during the ride about how much wildlife I encountered.

Nice Views that break down to a blotchy mess with the heat, humidity, and tiny iPhone camera sensor -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/2200 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Nice Views
that break down to a blotchy mess with the heat, humidity, and tiny iPhone camera sensor

The long steep descent down the other side was fun, and made me happy that I had not tried to climb it, for I felt it must be much harder than the side I'd actually done. Part way down, I came across this Buddha statue:

Big Buddha I realized then that this was the difficult “ Buddha road ” I'd heard about -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/125 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Big Buddha
I realized then that this was the difficult Buddha road I'd heard about
Exiting the Forest into the rice fields (near these fields from nine years ago) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/1250 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Exiting the Forest
into the rice fields (near these fields from nine years ago)

As I descended into a village on the exposed road, the temperature climbed from the 27° it had been in the forest, up to 39° on the exposed open road. (From 81F to 102F.) It was hot.

I somehow had the idea that I should go ahead and retrace my steps back up the mountain, doing the climb that I was so fearful about on the way down. So, after buying 1.5L of water at a vending machine, I did exactly that, heading up and then repeating the descent right back down to the same vending machine (where I stocked up on another 1.5L).

The second descent was faster than the first because I didn't stop for photos, but otherwise it was pretty mild, so I was surprised to find that I got the KOM on the descent. Anyway, I felt satisfied that I'd not shied away from the tough climb after the first thought of dreading it.

Later while coasting downhill after a milder climb, the TiGRA Sport bicycle iPhone mount that I spoke so highly of last year failed at a mild bump, and my iPhone 6+ hit the pavement at 44kph...

Death of my iPhone Courtesy of a TiGRA Sport mount that failed -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
map & image datanearby photos
Death of my iPhone
Courtesy of a TiGRA Sport mount that failed
Predictable Result -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro — 1/500 sec, f/9, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Predictable Result
The Culprit two teeth failed and another is in the process... seems like a simple case of plastic fatigue )-: -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro — 1/500 sec, f/4.8, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
The Culprit
two teeth failed and another is in the process... seems like a simple case of plastic fatigue )-:

The action shot above is a screen capture from the video from the bike rear camera. The road was mildly bumpy, but nothing enough to make me think it was one particular jolt that the TiGRA mount failed on. Rather, I'm guessing it was just accumulated fatigue that just happened to cross the line at that time.

I found the smashed phone right away, but despite searching for 15 minutes along both sides of the road, I couldn't find the case. One side of the road dropped off steeply and was overgrown with tall weeds, so I figured it must have slid somewhere in there. Until I saw the video (after returning home), I had assumed the case separated from the phone on impact with the road, but the video shows the light plastic case sailing away on its own. It probably went way off into the high grass.

(Armed with new info from the video, I returned two days later to search again, but 15 minutes struggling in the overgrown embankment yielded only cuts and bug bites..)

Sigh. I'll have to ask TiGRA Sport about this.

Dejected, I continued home. There wasn't much tree cover for quite a while, and though the 35° (95F) temperature wasn't so bad, the direct sun was brutal and I was quickly drained. The final climb that stood between me and a cool shower at home should have taken 15 minutes, but I was wiped out, so stopped for long periods when I could find shade. In the end it took an hour. This wasn't jetlag... just heat and lack of fitness.

I was happy to find that the phone still actually worked, so I could download the photos and make a backup. The tracklogs weren't complete though, so I was happy that the new Garmin Edge 820 cycling computer I was using for the first time (having just acquired it in The States) had recorded the ride fully. Longtime readers of my blog know that Garmin has earned a passionate hatred over the years, so I was expecting the worst with my first real cycling computer, but everything seemed to work out fine. For now.

The next day I swapped my broken phone (and ¥42,000... about $400) for a new phone.

The day after that I set out on a ride more or less in reverse of the first. I left earlier in the day, before it got too hot, so I felt really good on the initial climbs.

I returned to the tragic scene of my iPhone death and dug through the overgrowth for 15 minutes, but still couldn't find the case.

I intended to go to the same big mountain I'd done twice the other day, but this time via an alternate approach that seemed appealing on the map. I'd used a mapping site to route me there, following on the non-map on my Garmin 820. (I've not yet put Japanese maps on it.)

Heading Toward The Mountains -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/3000 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Toward The Mountains

I had to pass through a little village to get there, and was surprised when the route brought me up a back alley with a ridiculous 20+% slope, followed by a flat section, then another milder (but still ridiculously steep) slope:

This is The Mild Portion -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Cycliq Fly12 — map & image datanearby photos
This is The Mild Portion

Later on a whim, I made a Strava segment for this little stretch of road, Brutal Kamioogi Shortcut, and found that I wasn't the only person to have taken it.

Overall, the little stretch averages 18.9% for 200m.

Something felt oddly familiar about it, but I didn't pay much attention to it until I got home and looked at the map. Strava uses OpenStreetMap data, and the data in this area was pathetic, so I updated it:

As I do with many roads where I ride, I used detailed survey data from the Japanese government to guide the updates. They tend to be very precise, which is how I like my maps and my Strava segments.

While working on that update, I realized that I'd actually been on that exact steep route before, as a passenger in a car, during the winter (with snow!), on the way to Filming a TV Segment about Mochi and Shiga. Small world.

The main road continued up toward the mountains, but without tree cover it was hot, so I stopped by a roadside culvert to cool down by dipping a towel into the cool water, and squeezing it over my head...

Cooling Off frame grab from the bike's front-facing camera -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Cycliq Fly12 — map & image datanearby photos
Cooling Off
frame grab from the bike's front-facing camera

A little later, just as the road enters the forest, there was a little waterfall and pond.

Oasis in the Heat -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/15 sec, f/2.2, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Oasis in the Heat

I stopped to put my whole body under the tiny waterfall of very cold water. It was freezing and wonderful; it felt like this.

The road pitched up steeply from here, though now mostly under tree cover. After a long while, it turned to mild gravel, then disappointingly, increasingly rough gravel.

Mild Gravel -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/350 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
Mild Gravel

I had hoped it would be all paved, but it was gravely enough that I don't think I'd like to do it again on a road bike. I views I was rewarded with, though, were lovely.

near Kaji Pass (梶峠) -- Kaji Pass (梶峠) -- Otsu, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6+ — 1/1600 sec, f/2.2, ISO 32 — map & image datanearby photos
near Kaji Pass (梶峠)

Even though I stopped often for photos or to cool down, I still got the #4 spot overall on that 4.5km 9% climb. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone that there were only five registered attempts 😉 )

After descending a bit it connected to that Buddha Road climb I'd been proud of attempting two days prior. It connected after the worst of the climb, so the remaining 2.5km at only 7.4% felt almost flat. I was feeling much better this day, so my time was ⅔ that of the earlier attempt.

So, I'm happy to be back home and that my fitness level didn't drop too much. Kyoto is hot hot hot, though, and I've a lot of work and tidying to catch up on, so I'll probably not get out too much in the next weeks, but we'll see. Maybe some early morning rides, and heat-of-the-day getting-stuff-done in the comfort of home's air conditioning.


Strava Segment Tutorial: Removing Suckage and Promoting Quality

TL;DR Summary

This is a ridiculously long and verbose tutorial on Strava segments. The summary is that many standard segments suck, and that better versions often exist but are invisible to you unless you visit the web site version of Strava and inspect the hidden efforts list.

If you hide the sucky segments and unhide the good segments, you'll have a better Strava experience going forward, even when using the phone app. If enough folks do this, the experience improves for everyone.

Random photo from my archive that evokes “ segment ” , sort of. Koutouin Temple (高桐院), Kyoto Japan -- Koutouin Temple (高桐院) -- Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Random photo from my archive that evokes segment, sort of.
Koutouin Temple (高桐院), Kyoto Japan

Table of Contents


Introduction

I enjoy reliving a bicycle ride by reviewing the statistics on Strava, seeing how well I did on certain stretches of road compared to how I've done before, or perhaps how I compare to my friends.

In the Strava universe, sections of road are broken up into segments, and if your ride traverses a segment, you'll get info about how you and others have done on it. If your ride transverses lots of segments, you'll get a lot of info.

Segments can be created by any Strava user at any time, which on one hand is really great and flexible, but sadly, many segments are poorly constructed. Whether through ignorance, sloppiness, or selfishness, many segments are bad, misleading, meaningless, and/or repetitious, and this can create a flood of data for a seemingly simple ride. This article is a tutorial on how to change the flood to a targeted stream of useful, interesting information.

As an example to illustrate the flood problem, consider this ride up a single road to the top of a mountain in Hawaii. It yields a staggering 62 segments:

In this case, Strava at first displays only 28 segments, but clicking on the Show 34 hidden efforts button highlighted at the bottom of the list indeed brings up 34 additional segments:

This is a fake, computer-generated ride created for the purposes of this blog post, and as such, the times and speeds are meaningless. It's a private activity on Strava under a test account so that the fake data does not pollute real Strava data.

The climb represented here is 34km (21mi) long, so I'm sure that there are interesting sub-sections that deserve specific segments, but 62 seems a bit excessive, so it brings up some questions:

  • Why are there 62 segments for one climb?
  • Why are some of them hidden by default, but others are not? What does hidden mean?
  • Which segments are good and make sense?
  • Why do four segments have the same name (Haleakala Highway Climb), and how am I supposed to know which ones to pay attention to?

There's a wide variety in quality among all those segments, so perhaps most importantly this brings up the question How, as a member of the Strava community, can I help raise the quality of segments we all see?

This last question is the whole reason I've written this tutorial, to help members of the community raise the quality for everyone. Strava provides only a few tools to allow users to rate segments, and though these tools are poorly designed and mostly ineffectual, perhaps if enough folks use them we'll see more high-quality segments and less bad ones.

What Are Hidden Segments?

Strava generally hides some segments, with a stated goal of reducing clutter. Sadly, I think that Strava policies actually encourage the popularity of poorly-constructed segments (more on this later), so it behooves the Strava rider to look through all the segments to sort out the good from the bad, at least if it's an area that you ride often. As we'll see in a bit, you can manually hide bad or uninteresting segments, and manually unhide good segments: going forward, these choices are carried through your entire Strava experience (both on the web site and phone app), so the up-front work to choose segments pays off over the long run.

Users of the Strava website who notice the show hidden efforts button have the option to see all segments, as we did above. The Strava phone apps, though, give no indication about hidden segments, and since these apps are how the majority of Strava users interact with Strava, most users have no idea that hidden segments even exist. If you're a phone-app user, you have to visit the Strava website to play along with this post. It's worth the effort, though, because improvements you make via the web site are reflected when you visit via the app.

Why Would I Want to Hide or Unhide Specific Segments?

The obvious answer is that you want to see only high-quality segments that are interesting and meaningful to you, but there are community-wide benefits as well, which we'll certainly cover later. But before we look at that, and at the factors that go into making a segment good or bad in the first place, let's first look at the mechanics of manually hiding and unhiding segments....

Hiding Segments Manually

Strava automatically hides or shows some segments. With the phone app you have no indication that some segments are hidden, nor control over the segments you see. On the website, however, they let you explicitly override their choice and hide or unhide segments as you like. You need to do this only one time per segment, because once you explicitly tell Strava to hide or unhide a segment, your choice is remembered throughout your entire Strava universe, both on the web site and in the Strava phone apps.

Hiding a segment is simple: when you mouse over a segment in the list of activity efforts, a Hide button appears, as illustrated here:

Clicking the Hide button, of course, sends the segment to the list of hidden segments, and tells Strava that from now on when viewing any activity from anybody, you'd prefer not to see that segment. This preference is carried over to the phone-app view, so if you're a Strava phone user, you can occasionally visit the web site to clean clutter for your phone-app view.

If you hide a segment that you rode multiple times in the same activity (such as if you rode loops or repeats), clicking the Hide button actually removes only the one row from this list, but when you reload the activity (just do a refresh it in your browser), all the efforts on that segment will then be properly hidden.

Note that if you actually click on the segment row, Strava opens up the segment list and inserts a mini summary of the clicked-on segment, with a little map and info about your effort on it. In this case there is no Hide button, so click again on the segment row to close up the summary and reveal the Hide button.

Unhiding Segments Manually

Unhiding a segment is comparable to hiding one:

When you unhide a segment, it immediately returns to the unhidden segments at the end of list, rather than in the proper chronological place in the list. Just reload the page, and it'll show in its proper position.

A newly-unhid segment that deserves an achievement badge (a badge for a PR, KOM, QOM or the like) won't get one, because Strava assigns the badges only to visible segments, and only when the activity is first loaded or when you explicitly ask.

If you're working with your most recent activity and have just hid or unhid segments, you can have Strava recompute the badges by clicking on the wrench icon and choosing Refresh Activity Achievements:

You'll have to reload the page to actually see the new badges.

Warning: due to the ridiculous way Strava has chosen to implement Refresh Activity Achievements, I don't recommend using it with anything but your most-recent activity. You'd think that when Refresh Activity Achievements is done on an old activity, Strava would consider only efforts up to the point of that activity so that what was a PR then remains a PR for the effort on that activity, but no, they consider subsequent efforts as well. This means that you'll lose a badge for what was a KOM/QOM/PR at the time if it was bested any time later.

Just ridiculous.

How To Promote a Good Segment in the Community

When a new segment is created, it is either hidden for everyone or visible for everyone. If it's the first segment in an area, it'll likely be visible to everyone right away, but if it seems to be a repeat of something already there, it'll be hidden from everyone, and will stay hidden until folks manually look for it and unhide it.

If enough folks eventually do unhide a segment, it has the chance to be promoted by Strava to not being hidden by default. Also, the more users that star a segment (mark it as a personal favorite), the more likely that the segment will become unhidden by default.

Staring a favorite segment improves its ranking

This approach may sound nice on paper, but in the real world it's pretty bad. The only reason to create a segment that covers the same stretch of road as one already there is because the one already there sucks for some reason or another. (Again, we'll go over characteristics that make a segment suck later.)

Consider these segments for the same steep climb in Kyoto; one segment isn't particularly good, but it's entrenched because it was created long ago; the other segment is one that I created earlier today:

Tale of Two Segments

The segment I made is better in every respect than the original, except that the better one will be hidden from every Strava user that doesn't go looking for it and unhide it.

(It'll remain hidden by default until — if it ever happens — enough folks unhide it and Strava decides to promotes the better segment to unhidden by default.)

Downsides to Manually Hiding or Unhiding Segments

The only negative side effect that I have run into of clearing out crappy segments and promoting good segments relates to friends who have not done this. They still see their own view of segments, which usually means that they see Strava's default list of (often bad) segments. This also means that they'll see achievements (PRs and the like) for segments you've hidden, and they'll not see achievements for segments that you had unhidden.

This can sometimes create confusion, such as when they compliment you on a PR for such-and-such a climb, when you know you didn't PR that climb. It turns out, for example, that they're looking at a poorly-designed segment that you had hidden because if includes the common place to rest after the end of the climb, so your post-climb rest is included in the total effort time. That makes the segment meaningless, so you hid it, but they don't know that, and because today you happened to not pause as long as you did on earlier attempts, you made a PR on that segment.

Or it works the other way as well... you did PR the climb, and this is reflected in the high-quality segment that you unhid, but the low-quality segment that includes the post-climb rest shows a much longer, non-PR time.

It also impacts the achievement badges that you see on others' rides. An acquaintance recently did hill repeats, and when I view his activity I see no badges, so it appears as if he wasn't even fast enough on any of them for a 3rd-best personal effort badge:

Too Slow For an Achievement Badge?

The thing is, his first 3:16 effort on Mochikoshi Pass West was a PR (by 28 seconds!), and his second effort, just two seconds slower, should have earned a 2nd-best personal effort badge. The badges are missing because these super-high-quality segments (with ugly names) are, like for everyone who doesn't manually unhide them, hidden from him, so Strava doesn't bother computing the badges. Heck, even if he had gotten a KOM, it wouldn't have been highlighted.

So this adds one more reason to the list of why a segment effort has no achievement badge:

  • You've ridden the segment at least four times, and this time isn't among the top three.
  • It's your first time to ride a segment, and you didn't place in the all-time top 10 for your gender.
  • The segment was hidden for the rider when achievements were computed (when the activity was uploaded, or when Refresh Activity Achievements was invoked).

I think only the first is valid reason to not show an achievement.

As an aside about that second reason, I wish Strava would give you a first time! badge when you first ride a road, both to celebrate your expanding world and to communicate that fact to friends. As it is now, a ride in a new area creates an activity without achievement badges, making it look like it was just a slow, boring outing not worthy of a closer look, when in reality you might have been really killing it, but just on a road you'd not ridden before. Sigh, if only I were King of Strava, I'd fix all these problems.

Anyway these downside problems should subside over time, as you enlighten your friends and they, too, clear out bad segments and promote good ones.

Okay, So What Makes a Segment Good or Bad?

This can be a loaded question because personal preference can play a large part in some of these considerations, but a bad segment in my eyes suffers from one or more of the following:

  • A stupid or sloppy starting point
  • A stupid or sloppy ending point
  • Bad road tracking
  • Incorrect summary data, particularly slope and elevation data
  • A stupid or selfish name
  • An unremarkable or inconsequential segment of road
  • A section of road inappropriate for Strava's matching algorithms

We'll soon spend the rest of this article looking at examples of each of these, but first, in order to judge the first three items we need to know how to inspect a segment's course on a map, so let's look at that...

Inspecting a Segment on the Map

Several ways listed above on how to judge a segment involve looking at it on a map, and with Strava there are two different segment route views, and they're both important: one is how your particular route matched to a segment this time, and the other is the original rider's route used as the basis for the segment (and so it's used as the basis to which all activities either match or don't match, and if they do, how they match).

It's important to understand the difference between these two, and how to inspect each.

Here's a bird's-eye view of our test activity, showing a sequence of events:

Clicking on the row for a segment opens up a lot of detail about the segment, including a mini map and leaderboards on the right. (Which leaderboards show up is a preference item that you can configure in your Strava account settings.)

At the same time that the segment detail opens up, the main interactive map at the top of the activity focuses on the segment. Both maps show your activity, with sections of your track that match the segment presented in blue.

The other map view for a segment is seen on the segment's home page. Clicking on the View full leaderboard button (item #3 in the screenshot) brings you to the segment's home page, and the route shown on the map there is the master route for the segment. It's the route used by the user who created the segment, and has the master starting and ending points.

Okay, so now that we know how to inspect a segment's route, let's look at how to judge its quality...

Qualities of a Bad Segment....

The remainder of this article goes over characteristics that make a segment bad....

Undesirable Trait #1: Sloppy Starting Point

This is perhaps the most common thing that makes a segment bad... a poorly-thought-out starting point.

Consider this simple example from above:

Segment starts at the intersection

At first glance the starting point right at the intersection perhaps looks reasonable, but there are two problems with this.

The first problem is that if you stop at the intersection prior to starting the climb — such as to wait for friends to catch up before the turn, or simply to prepare for the epic climb you're about to embark upon — this segment's start point at the interesection includes that stopped time in your overall effort, making the segment completely meaningless.

This is enough to render the segment junk in my book, without even needing to look at anything else. I would absolutely hide this segment.

For the second problem, let's look at that intersection in real life, via Google's wonderful Streetview:

This view is from the north looking south. We've got the north-south road running along the right edge of the screen, with Crater Road (the big climb) starting off to the left.

I've marked about where the segment begins and the path it then embarks upon. Clearly, the person who made this segment had ridden down the road from the north, from behind the camera's view in the screenshot above. That's fine, but what about folks who approach the road from the south, from the upper right in the screenshot above?

Here's the view when approaching from the other side:

These folks will naturally peel off to the right, rather than continue north and take the sharp turn meant for the opposite direction. Do we want this segment to match these folks' ride? If so, will it? If it will, from where?

The first question (do we want it to match people riding from the south?) is for the person who created the segment, but with a name like Bottom of Crater Rd. to 1st Cattle Guard it's safe to assume they didn't intend to exclude these folks.

Whether it actually will or won't match someone's ride is up to how accurate their GPS units are, and the details of Strava's matching algorithms. I'd think that it generally would match, but from exactly where? Can you trust an effort time when you don't even know what it covers?

Rather than have to wonder about these questions, it's smarter to have the segment start slightly after the intersection, both to accept folks riding in from either direction, and to avoid including such a natural stopping point within the segment. Here's a segment with a starting point that avoids these problems:

Smarter starting point

I would unhide this segment, and hide the first.

There are many, many examples of this around the Stravaverse. I ran into a funny one while working on this article, a segment in the Netherlands named Tienboerenweg with a horrible starting point on the wrong side of what looks to be a big intersection:

Horrible Starting Point

So what's funny is that a year later, someone created a Tienboerenweg (fixed) segment. With fixed in the title, you'd think, you know, that the problem was fixed, but no, it's just as bad as the first:

Fixed Starting Point??

Sigh. If I rode in the area, I would hide both.

Another kind of unfortunate starting point is one that doesn't make sense to the specifics of the road or the climb, though this can certainly be a matter of personal preference.

An example from an area I'm familiar with in Kyoto is a segment that begins this way:

Odd starting point

If you're familiar with the area, the choice of this starting point is puzzling, to say the least. The east-west road it starts on is essentially flat, with nothing particular at all at the place the segment starts. As the road continues and turns north, there are natural places to stop and join up with others (like this), and then the road starts to slowly climb as you leave city. After a short bit you pass the last buildings and enter the forest where the climb starts in earnest, so I'd think a segment for this climb should start about there, where the blue is.

There could well be some common benefit to this starting point that I'm just not seeing, but as it is it simply makes no sense to me at all. (Lots about this segment makes no sense to me, as we'll see later.)

Local Considerations for a Good Starting Point

Sometimes it's a balance among conflicting goals. For example, the pair of segments featured in Tale of Two Segments above have slightly different starting points:

Slight change in starting point

I chose to start this segment about 280m (about 0.17mi) farther in than the original, just after a 90° bend in the road that seems to me to be a natural starting point for the climb. More importantly is that the slightly later start allows the segment to match folks riding to the climb via the road coming in from the northeast (riding in on the blue-dotted road in the screenshot above).

At the moment, my carefully-crafted segment matches 585 rides, while the original matches only 413. Some of that difference is certainly due to the accurate road tracking in my new segment, but I'm sure most comes from including folks who took the north-eastern approach.

A possible detriment to my segment is that in skipping that initial bit of road, I lopped 20m (66') of elevation. How intrinsic that little bit is to the climb's overall character is a matter of personal opinion. Overall it's a brutal climb with some sections above 20%, so the bit omitted at the start doesn't seem particularly material to me, but YMMV.

Along those lines, the original segment itself could have made a bigger climb by starting even farther down the increasingly-gentle slope of land. At some point you back up enough that you've hit the ocean and can't start any lower, and only then can this argument be truly put to rest.

Going the other way, in looking at another great resource for segment design, Strava's Global Heat Map, there is perhaps a need for a much-truncated starting point:

Strava's Global Heat Map
for the area

The heatmap indicates a third approach, just south of the main approach, not serviced by either segment. In a ride heatmap, the road glows more brightly the more times it's been ridden, so based on that this new southern approach seems to be only a bit less popular than the approach my update allowed for. Perhaps we should not exclude these folks, moving the starting point to the red in the screenshot. Or perhaps the lead-up that would be cut out by such a change is sufficiently important that we need a totally new segment, starting at the yellow mark?

It turns out that there's a conspicuous landmark just past the red , a tiny bridge where the road jinks sharply. When I ride across that bridge, I feel a sense of okay, here we go! impending doom... the climb is about to get real. So, with such a clear demarcation point, perhaps it's a good place for a sub-segment to start, so I made one, and now I've started to rethink whether this should just be the main climb. Compared with the other one I made this cuts off an 800m span that averages just 5%, which causes the overall average to rise from 8.3% to 8.9%, more accurately representing the pain of this climb.

But now that I've created the segment, I see that it matches 582 rides, just three short of the first segment I made. I expected more based on the heatmap, so I guess it's difficult to differentiate based upon brightness. A single ride is readily apparent in the heatmap, as are highly-popular roads, but there's a lot of numerical variation in the in-between zones that are not apparent visually. Or so it seems. It's a great resource, but I'm still learning how to read it.

Choosing the proper start to the climb is not something done with a map, but by getting a feel on the ground and, often, by community consensus. Even then, rational minds can disagree, and so perhaps there really is a need for two or three or more separate segments for this climb. Time will tell.

Undesirable Trait #2: Sloppy Ending Point

A poorly-thought ending point has the same risks as a poorly-thought starting point, though a bad ending point can be more insidious when a track ends at a mountain pass. Here's an example of a horrible segment from where I ride in Kyoto:

Poorly-created segment extends past the top of the climb

The high point on this climb is the pass marked with a yellow in the screenshot above. The road on either side is quite steep.

Any reasonable segment for this climb should end at or perhaps just a bit before the yellow X, but this segment continues down the other side a bit, including an area just below the pass that's a natural rest area (it's the location of the lead photo of this blog post).

So, if you stop to rest at the natural spot after the climb, this segment includes the rest time. It's a useless segment that I certainly hide. (It's also a good example of another bad segment quality... a stupid or selfish name; we'll see more on that later.)

Inappropriate for Conditions

Another kind of ending point has a less-obvious but more insidious problem... here's the end of a segment in San Francisco that runs along a bicycle path for 3km (2mi), named Great Hwy Sprint North:

Dangerous

It looks to end about a long car length before the side-to-side sidewalk at a big cross road. It's back enough that those stopping at the sidewalk might not see their stopping time included in the segment, so that perhaps won't be a problem, but geez, considering that those in the run for a KOM need to average 60kph (36mph) over the whole segment, the stopping point doesn't seem to afford space to safely slow down after the segment.

If the segment were to end just before an intersection, a green light would allow the rider to end the segment at full speed and continue through safely, but as it is, one is forced to slow down before the end, which sort of defeats the point of a sprint segment.

I would be dangerous to finish this segment at full speed, but I wouldn't call this segment dangerous. A cyclist can be dangerous... actions can be dangerous.... but we're each responsible for our own choices. This segment is merely poorly constructed. I would hide it.

If I were to make a replacement segment, I'd have it stop a bit earlier so that one could safely cross the end of the segment at full steam. I'd try to find some real-world feature to end the segment at so that the end spot would be easy to remember. Google's Streetview of this area shows some posts at intervals along the path... I'd try to have the segment end at one of them.

Undesirable Trait #3: Bad Road Tracking

The track used by the person creating a segment becomes the master template for the segment against which all other rides through the area, past and future, are matched. The closer to reality a master track is, the better chance that it has to match others' rides properly.

So how well do you think this segment will perform?

Ridiculous master track

This is just ridiculous, and should have never been made into a public segment. Luckily it's so bad that it's only ever matched one other person's ride, so it's not polluting everyone's data, but still.

The one other ride that it matched illustrates a general problem with bad tracking. Due to the crazy track, it matched the other guy's ride starting not at the base of the actual climb, but well into the climb, giving him an artificially short time (and, as it turns out, the KOM) for the segment:

Bad match makes for an incorrectly-quick time

If you think to investigate these details, and know how, you end up discounting this KOM and this entire stupid segment.

I can guess how the segment got created. The guy who created the segment is really fast and has KOMs all around Kyoto. He hit this climb hard, and if his GPS unit had tracked well, he would have been in the running for the KOM. But his GPS tracked so poorly that it didn't match the segment for the climb, so in order to see how fast he'd done, he created a segment from his ride with a best guess as to where the climb actually started and ended in his jumble of a track. It's a fine idea, if he'd kept the segment private.

Before we move on, for reference I'd like to show the segment I made for this climb, with the path hugging the left side of the road that we drive on here in Japan:

Ridiculously-Correct Path

I go a bit beyond most Strava users... I use road and elevation data from the government to computer generate highly-accurate segments like the one above. Sadly, because Strava's policies intended to promote good segments are actually counter-productive in practice, most users will never know this segment exists, instead being shown a variety of less-accurate ones.

Undesirable Trait #4: Bad Summary Statistics

Each segment has summary data that includes the segment length, the vertical climb, and the average gradient.(sort of)

In the segment list seen after a ride, those three items are shown under the segment name. Here's an excerpt from the long Hawaii climb seen at the start of this post:

Segment names with summary data underneath

The six segments seen above all more or less cover the same stretch of road, with the minor differences in statistics stemming partially from where exactly each segment creator choose to start and end the segment, but even more, to the fact that each segment is made from a specific ride's GPS track, and that the quality of GPS tracks can vary widely, especially with respect to elevation (which, as we know, Strava has issues with to begin with).

This long Hawaii climb is on a road that offers a clear view of the sky where GPS units tend to perform well, so there's little variation among the segments seen above, but in the wider Strava universe, segment summary data can be wildly off. Let's look at some examples from where I ride in Kyoto:

Crazy-wrong example #1: 3.8% grade showing as 25%

Kyoto has some ridiculously-steep roads, including some with sections that truly are at 25%, but this little segment at the start of the northern ascent to Kyomi Pass is not one of them. In reality, that section of the road rises at 3.8%.

If you're familiar with the area you know that there are no 25% climbs around there, but if this kind of crazy-wrong data shows up in a friend's activity in an area you're not familiar with, it's instinctive to take it at face value:


Seductive
but wrong

Because human nature is so strong to take this data at face value, I think it's important to get rid of incorrect segments like these. I certainly hide this segment.

Here's an even worse example, a flat section of road (should be 0.0%) presented as a grueling 24% climb:

Crazy-wrong example #2: 0.0% grade showing as 24%

This short segment also goes through three major intersections with long traffic lights, making it inappropriate on an entirely different level as well.

Sadly, segments with this kind of wildly-incorrect stats abound. Our only recourse to make things better when we notice them is to hide them.

Correct but Meaningless

So, the average grade for a segment is correct if the source ride's GPS data is accurate, but Strava shows us that correct doesn't always mean useful. Because of how Strava chooses to display things, the average grade is meaningful only if the segment is all uphill or all downhill. If the ride undulates or otherwise goes both up and down, the average grade number Strava presents is essentially meaningless from a cyclist point of view.

Consider this segment that climbs at 9% up to the top of a mountain pass, and then much of the way down the other side. To do well on this segment, you must have strength in both climbing and descending:

Notice The Elevation Profile

Strava displays an essentially-meaningless 1% average grade for this. They look at the difference between the starting and ending elevations, and divide that into the total distance. This is a mathematically valid way to compute something that a mathematician could call average grade, but that's about the best I can say for it.

As for usefulness, it's worse than nothing when it comes to informing a cyclist about what to expect on the ride.

The insidiousness is that when this 1% shows up in a list of segments, those not already familiar with the road will dismiss it as flat. This kind of data falls into Strava's core reason for existing, so it boggles my mind that they are satisfied with this as the status quo.

A better solution is a matter of opinion, but the most obvious idea is to divide the total elevation gain (the aggregate of all climbs within the segment, as opposed to the simple difference between start and end) over the total distance. This would be much better for segments that are predominately climbs or descents, but it still fails to accurately describe the effort needed for mixed segments like our example above, for which this method would yield a paltry 3.5%.

For segments with a non-trivial mix of both ascent and descent, perhaps show the average gain for ascending road, along with a parenthetical note about the average loss for descending road. In this case it would be 5.8km @ 9% (+8.4km @ -4%), which much-more accurately describes the effort required for this segment.

Strava doesn't do it this way perhaps because they disagree on its benefit, but more likely both because Strava is challenged when it comes to elevation calculations, and because they consistently show a willingness to abandon what should be one of their core competencies.

Undesirable Trait #5: Stupid or Selfish Name

When you create a segment in Strava, you have the option to keep it private to yourself, in which case the name matters only to you. But normal public segments are a shared resource for all Strava uses, so unless you're selfish and inconsiderate, they should be created to be a shared benefit.

A name like that seen above, Steves Oh Gosh not this little turd of a hill again., is a remarkably meaningless name. The guy who created it (Steve, one supposes) couldn't even be bothered to punctuate properly.

Another example from Kyoto, probably from the same guy, is this even more-meaningless name: Steve's Monkey T Sprint KYOTO. The name tells us that it's a sprint of some sort somewhere in Kyoto, but otherwise nothing. I'm sure the name is an inside joke of some sort, so it'd be a great name for Steve to have as a private segment, but there's no meaning for others. I hide it.

There are a bunch of rides around Kyoto with names that start with Steve, so perhaps he attempted to create a brand of segments that all share a certain something? I don't know, but all I came across shared a stunning lack of quality, so I quickly learned to hide them any time I came across them.

Unfortunately, there are no end to stupid, meaningless segment names on Strava. A quick perusal yields such gems as:

Seriously? These are just moronic.

Some names are neither stupid nor selfish, but unfortunately lacking nevertheless. If you can approach a mountain pass from both sides, a name like Bigmountain Pass Climb doesn't tell you which of the two sides it refers to.

I think segment names should have logical, boring names that actually describe the segment, letting the nature of the ride itself lend fun and excitement instead of trying to force it via a witty name.

So, that's how I name segments that I create. For example, there's a mountain pass in Kyoto named Ebumi Pass, and if you approach it from the west, you'll find segment Ebumi West, and if you then go down the other side, Ebumi East Descent.

If you then turn around to retrace your steps, you'll traverse Ebumi East and then Ebumi West Descent.

Boring, yes, but also clear, understandable, and unambiguous in the local context.

Actually, those are just the English parts of the names, which actually also include a Japanese version as well. This part of the global shared resource — road segments — is in Japan, so if one has the linguistic ability, it's only considerate to include a Japanese version in the name.

So, my Ebumi East segment becomes 江文東 / Ebumi East, which is a bit noisy, but still reasonable, and useful for both Japanese and English-speaking foreigners alike. English is the lingua franca among non-Japanese speakers in Japan, so an English version of the name has wide utility.

Segment Branding

I sometimes see groups of segments with a commonness to the names that implies a kind of branding, such as the Steve segments seen earlier. I think for the most part this is merely ego and selfishness, but I do see one rationale for branding: to advertise a certain level of quality. After a few paragraphs I'll explain how I utilize segment-name branding this way, but first a bit of background on why this comes about...

When creating a segment on Strava, you have only one way to communicate to others everything you want to say about the segment: the title. It'd be nice if Strava added a description field, Author/Creator field, a name-in-another-language field, and such, but they don't. This is really unfortunate because there are a lot of things you might want to tell others when creating a segment, not the least of which is why this segment is better than whatever segment it's trying to replace. So if it's important enough, you have to communicate it in the title.

Searching Strava for segment titles with fixed in them shows plenty. (I looked at one, and found it to be just as bad as the original in that it starts just before a big intersection instead of just after, going to show that you just can't blindly trust a segment just because it has fixed in the title.)

I sometimes go through quite a bit of work to create super-accurate segments in Japan, applying my computer-science geekiness to computer generate silky-smooth segments from highly-detailed road and elevation data from the Government of Japan. These segments go so far as to follow the left edge of the road (Japan drives on the left side), and they have an elevation profile that's faithful to reality. I would suppose I'm the only one in the world crazy enough to put this much work into it.

Anyway, I'd like to communicate the accurate nature of these segments to other users, and the only way Strava allows for is in the name, so I brand these segments by adding Surveyed (in English and Japanese) to the end of the title.

So now my Ebumi East segment name becomes 江文東 / Ebumi East [計測 /Surveyed], which is an ugly mouthfull making a ride's segment list look busy. I don't like it, and I can imagine some folks might consider this in the stupid name basket, but I can't think of any other way to communicate the trustworthiness of the segment.

I tried prefixing the title with a symbol that might communicate what I want, such as . This would create a less-cluttered name like 江文東 / Ebumi East, but I had to abandon the idea because Strava's Android app doesn't display this correctly.

So, for the moment I'm stuck with the ugly-but-informative Surveyed pattern.

Undesirable Trait #6: Unremarkable or Inconsequential Length of Road

Some segments may be technically fine, but just make no sense in local context. As an example, let's revisit the odd-starting point segment seen earlier. Here's its elevation profile in the local context:

Very odd ending point

We talked earlier about the slightly-odd starting point, but the ending point sits squarely in the bizarre category, just abruptly ending in the middle of the climb up to a pass. Having ridden these roads many times, I just can't see the meaning of a segment that incorporates the climb up and down the one pass, then part way up to the next.

To further boast the totally clueless nature of this segment, its name is 府道31号線 Climb full, which translates as Prefectural Route #31 Climb full. The thing is, this name is a fail on all fronts: It's not anywhere close to the full length of Prefectural Route #31, and as a bonus, ¼ of the segment is on a different road entirely. It's not a full climb either, nor even really a climb at all since almost half is a descent.

So why does this segment even exist? I can think of three reasons:

  1. There are community benefits that I'm just not seeing.
  2. The person who made it was sloppy and inept.
  3. Unlikely, but perhaps a person didn't make it at all; perhaps it was automatically made by Strava.

That last possibility brings up the topic of auto-generated segments...

Strava-Generated Segments

Back when Strava was young and there weren't many segments yet, in an effort to seed the pool, so to speak, their computer would analyze an activity and automatically generate segments for climbs that didn't otherwise have segments yet. This hasn't been done for a couple of years now, but those auto-created segments remain. These auto-created segments always got titled road name Climb.

These are easy to spot here in Japan because the road name part is in Japanese and Climb is in English, for example 府道31号線 Climb, a climb on Prefectural Route 31. Going back to the start of this post, this is probably the origin of the four Haleakala Highway Climb segments along random parts of the road.

Because these automatic segments are based upon a user's GPS track, they're ultimately subject to the accuracy of the recording device's elevation data, which even today can be wildly inaccurate. When it works well you end up with a nice segment from the bottom of a climb to the top, but more often you get little tidbits in the middle of a climb where the user's elevation recording happened to fluctuate.

For example, a few years ago some guy rode up this beautiful, smooth climb. It's a proper climb that just keeps going up, with no flat or downward sections, but as is common with GPS devices, his device recorded quite a bit of fluctuation during his ascent that simply wasn't there:

Bumpy Recording of a Smooth Ascent

Among the various bumps, Strava for some reason chose to make the marked part into a segment, with (of course) a ... Climb title:

Prefectural Route 16 Climb
in reality only a mild 5.5%

So, these road name Climb segments are often junk. I tend to hide them.

Undesirable Trait #7: Inappropriate for Strava's Matching Algorithms

Sometimes a segment has all the hallmarks of quality, but just doesn't work well with Strava's track-matching algorithm. A simple example is this climb on an old road now bypassed by a long, dark tunnel going almost directly underneath:

Start of the climb
the climb rises at right, then crosses over the tunnel
Segment ends directly over tunnel
(confusingly, itself directly under a parkway overpass)

The track for a rider going through the tunnel also appears to go through the start and end of this climb, so Strava can't tell the difference, so this segment gets matched:

Improper Match
through the tunnel both ways
Proper Match
north over the climb, south through the tunnel

That proper match effort is mine and is currently the fastest time for the climb and should be the KOM, but it shows up as #15 on the leaderboard because those above were improperly-matched efforts. Any number of friends could easily beat my time of 1:25, but they'd have a difficult time beating the currently-listed KOM of 31 seconds, unless they also went through the tunnel like that rider.

(By the way, the temple noted at the bottom of the maps above is the same one seen on my blog in That Kyoto Temple With the Many Whimsical Statues; it's well worth a visit if you're riding by.)

When two segments more or less overlap, it's difficult to blame Strava for not noticing the difference, but many mismatches are less obvious. Consider the little climb seen in this closeup of the heat-map screenshot seen in the local considerations section above:

That little bit of road is the super-steep entrance to the temple seen on my blog seven years ago in A Visit to Western Kyoto’s Konzou Temple, where a younger and fatter me visited with my son, via scooter. I did visit again last year via bicycle, but my ride didn't match a segment I made for the 18%-average-grade driveway. Strava's Potential Segment Matches page for the ride says:

  •     Your Activity
  •     Selected Segment
  •     Partial Segment Match
Your Activity seems to have deviated from the Segment at 42%.
We could not complete the match.

I'm not sure what's going on here... my ride's cruddy track somehow matches the segment perfectly right up to the finish... but then inexplicably continues matching for a while. Yet, Strava says it failed just before the halfway mark? I'm left baffled.

Worse, though, is that the next time I rode it, it not only matched the climb segment on the way up as it should have, but also matched the descent as well:

The blue sections are the parts of the ride,
once each way, that matched the segment

In looking at the rides for the top of the leader boards for the segment, it appears this problem is widespread.

The segment just doesn't work well with how Strava matches... the start and end are too close to other parts of the segment, and to each other.

It's a problem common to short segments with non-segment road nearby. I first noticed it with this segment, covered on my blog in Kyoto’s Nasty 21% City-Bike Hill Climb. A rider speeding by on a flat road nearby matched this steep climb, earning the KOM with a time of 11 seconds:

Nasty Example

These kinds of false matches can absolutely destroy the leaderboards, leaving them meaningless. The actual KOM is this 24-second effort by a friend, but it's listed as the 77th overall! (To figure that out, I had to inspect each ride on the leaderboard until I found one that matched properly; FWIW, my personal best is 32 seconds.)

Another example shows a road too twisty at both the start and end for a reliable match of either. Here's the current KOM for that segment:

the blue section is the part of the ride that matched the segment,
but the segment actually starts and ends at the two yellow

This rider turned around two hairpins short of the full segment, but it was close enough for Strava's matching. Combined with the late match at the start, his overall time is seriously truncated, earning him the KOM.

It's not the rider's fault that Strava doesn't match these correctly, and frankly, I don't blame Strava for it either. There's an incredible range of GPS quality levels, but many tracks, especially in mountainous areas, are all over the place, and Strava's algorithms work hard to match as reasonably as they can. If the algorithm has to allow for a track error placing it 100 yards off the road, such a track is indistinguishable from a track on a different road that's actually within that distance. Trying to balance the various considerations involves a level of juggling well beyond my paygrade, but it seems that short segments, which are iffy to begin with (due to the aforementioned GPS quality levels), are where matching most often fails. It seems like a smart balance to me.

Overall, that Strava can do as well as they do, so quickly, with so many segments and activities every day, is only slightly short of magic.

How Strava Can Fix This

I do blame Strava, however, for not providing a way for a rider to manually remove a segment match from an activity. I think that keeping leaderboards clean falls into the core competency of their business, and in this respect they fail. With the Nasty example above, I learned that I simply can't ride on that road that gets incorrectly matched if I don't want my own PR leaderboard to be forever polluted with false PRs. It's silly to modify my real-world movements to satisfy my data-integrity geekiness, but I do.

Not only do I wish Strava would let us remove an incorrectly-matched segment, but I wish they would let us flag incorrect matches in other riders' activities, to alert the less-savvy Strava user to the situation. These are among my #1 wishlist items for Strava.

Conclusion

So that's that. If you actually read this far, in the time it took to read you probably could have Everested your favorite climb. Hopefully, the time spent was worth it and together we can make the Stravaverse better for all.


A Couple of Autumn Wigglegrams for My Niece Jena
Animatable Wigglegram (14 frames) — slowly sweep mouse from side to side to view 3D effect
写真の上をマウスで左右にゆっくり動かすと「3D」な感じが出ます。
Bell Wigglegram
Fall 2014 / 2014の秋

My niece Jena, who appeared on my blog six years ago today with Uzu iPad App Reviewed By 23-Month-Old Jena, said she'd like to see more wigglegrams, so here are a couple from my photo archives just for her.

The first one comes from a November 2014 trip to the Flower Temple (花の寺) in southern Kyoto that produced A Quick Peek at Kyoto’s Hanadera Temple (with its own wigglegram), and An Among-the-Fall-Colors What-am-I? Quiz. This wigglegram features Damien, his red hat, and a big bell.

This next wigglegram is from a trip to the Kongorinji Temple (金剛輪寺) a few days prior, on a trip that produced The Building at the Main Garden of the Kongorinji Temple and Quality Time Among the Fall Colors, as well as Slightly Queasy Wigglegram.

Today's wigglegram is of a bunch of the jizo statues, a concept explained in Deep Sorrow at the Kongourinji Temple’s Path of Jizo.

Animatable Wigglegram (14 frames) — slowly sweep mouse from side to side to view 3D effect
写真の上をマウスで左右にゆっくり動かすと「3D」な感じが出ます。
Path and Jizo
Kongorinji Temple (金剛輪寺)

More Summer Fun
Like Daughter Like Mother Natalie mimicking her daughter's pose from the other day -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Like Daughter Like Mother
Natalie mimicking her daughter's pose from the other day
How She Really Felt -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
How She Really Felt

My brother Alan and his family stopped for a bit by my folks' place on their back home, for some fun and relaxation. Prior to saying goodbye, Felicity joked around...

Ready To Roll “ I'll just ride up here ” -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Ready To Roll
I'll just ride up here
Precocious “ Presence ” for the Camera in total control at 7½ years old -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Precocious Presence for the Camera
in total control at 7½ years old
Not Quite so Precocious Alan was a bit shaky on the stilts (luckily a fast shutter speed could capture him before he fell ;-) ) -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Quite so Precocious
Alan was a bit shaky on the stilts
(luckily a fast shutter speed could capture him before he fell 😉 )

Toolin’ Around on a Mini Baja
Toolin' Around on a Mini Baja My brother Alan and his daughter Felicity -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
Toolin' Around on a Mini Baja
My brother Alan and his daughter Felicity
Yeah Baby -- Rootstown, Ohio, USA -- Copyright 2016 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Yeah Baby

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