Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why I'm not a Strava Premium Customer

Those who know me probably know that I'm a big Garmin and Strava user. Since the day Strava became free for all users to upload their rides, I've connected my Garmin devices to Strava and uploaded nearly every ride to Strava. (I don't make every ride public, since there's no point cluttering up my friends' feeds with every run to the grocery store, drug store, etc) When I write my tour reports, every day has a Strava route map front and center.

I was wondering why I was so opposed to paying for Strava, despite using it so much. Then one day, I got yet another ad on my feed remind me to pay up for Strava so that I could get my Suffer score. That triggered an "aha" insight. I don't ride my bike for suffering. I don't even ride my bike for exercise. One of my favorite jokes (that's occasionally attributed to me on the internet) came in the form of the Zen Koan:
A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?"
The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do." 
The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world." 
The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel." 
The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming." 
The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."
 Strangely enough, the only time when I felt like I was willing to pay for an internet cycling service was with RideWithGPS, where I once found an interesting route, downloaded it to my Bolt, and then rode it with great happiness. (The web-site, unfortunately, was barely usable on a smartphone, which made it mostly useless when touring) Maybe RideWithGPS will provide a "pleasure score", or a "scenery score", or a "singing with children score."

As I get older, I realize that the best things in life aren't easily quantifiable or captured in a single (or multiple) number(s). My best rides have always been the ones so good that I felt like stopping every few minutes to take pictures because it was just too pretty to pass by.

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