The Most Expensive Strava Segment

Oops, I did it again. I suffered my third bicycle accident several days ago. The more and more I ride, the worse and worse the accidents seem to get. In order to understand how it happened, you first need to understand my favorite athletic tracking website


What is Strava?

Strava is a website that tracks running, swimming, and most popularly, cycling. Strava has a social media aspect to it as well in that you can follow the workouts of other users and post comments and kudos. One of the main draws to Strava is the concept of the KOM or ‘King of the Mountain’. After uploading the GPS file of a bike ride, Strava automatically breaks it down into ‘segments’ which are popular sections of a road, climb, or trail. There is a leaderboard for each segment. If you capture the number one spot, then you earn the KOM.



That’s nice, but how did you crash?

I was attempting to obtain all of the KOMs on my ride home from work. I had four out of the eight and was looking to raise it to five with the ‘50th to Kiewit Curve’ segment.

ImageIn order to obtain the KOM I would have to go all out for one mile. I was cooking, achieving speeds that would be illegal in school zones. I dodged low hanging branches which attempted to decapitate me and avoided the rabbits that play Frogger with my carbon fiber TT bike. At that effort level you can feel the lactic acid rushing into your veins as if your blood was on fire. The poisonous burn is so intense that your legs would come to a stop if not for the antidote known as adrenaline. After a two minute balls to the wall run I let off the throttle and got on the brakes for the sharp left turn ahead. I leaned into the curve, but rather than getting swung around the bend, the tires slid out from beneath me and I went crashing to the concrete.

Ouch, that sounds like it hurt!

Yeah, I was pretty bloody and the fingers on my left hand seemed to have lost some functionality. I considered calling for some help, but felt that I deserved it for taking the turn too quickly, so I rode the seven miles home. My father was nice enough to drive me the rest of the way to the ER where the very kind nurses bandaged me up.


Thankfully I have insurance. But a trip to the emergency room followed up with surgery to put a pin in my finger is certainly going to go a long ways towards achieving the maximum out of pocket limit of my high deductible health plan. All things considered though, I was lucky that it wasn’t more serious. Just a broken pinky finger and some road rash.


I hoped you learned your lesson!

What’s the silver lining to this story? Well I got the KOM – no pain, no gain.


20 thoughts on “The Most Expensive Strava Segment

  1. I’m really sorry to see you were injured. As a guy who’s spent plenty of time picking himself up off the pavement, I know how it feels. I hope you recover quickly.

    On the other hand, I hope you use the recovery time to put some thought into the situation you explained up above. You were doing just shy of 30mph on a multi-use recreational trail. That means it’s built for cyclists, walkers, runners, rollerbladers, etc. That means anybody from an experienced rider (or runner or whatever) all the way down to beginners and children. And the dogs. God, don’t forget the dogs. Seems like they’re everywhere.

    You know why the speed limit is so low in school zones? Because there are kids running around all over the place, and they’re probably not paying attention. But despite the very distinct possibility of kids or other slow-moving people on the trail — you ride on the Keystone all the time, probably, so you’ve seen plenty of them — you decided to go ahead and blast on through, worrying more about your imaginary championship than whether or not you were putting anybody else in danger.

    In the crash, you got dinged up pretty good. Think about where you slid and how you landed, and then put a kid (probably without a helmet) or an older lady — maybe a walker — right there. You hit one of them, you’re both going to the hospital. And if you’re lucky, they’re not seriously hurt. Is that possibility worth trying to dominate a recreation path? Reading the post above, I’d be willing to bet it didn’t even cross your mind. You’re too worried about winning the make-believe crown.

    I guess the short way around all of this goes like so: STOP RACING YOUR TRI BIKE ON RECREATION TRAILS. Strava KOMs mean NOTHING. Not a thing. If you want to go super fast, do it in a place where you can’t endanger anybody else. The Omaha area has a ton of sweet, wide-open roads. We’re lucky to have this much great riding available to us. Go out there and check it out. It’s really fantastic stuff.

    Why is a stranger lecturing you? Because as a cyclist, I don’t want people looking down on me because one time on the Keystone, somebody blasted past them going far too fast, and with far too little control of their bike. And all for a nice spot on a virtual leaderboard.

    Enjoy the KOM, though. Because I’m going to flag that segment. And every time you make a new one, I’m going to flag that one, too. Stop racing on the sidewalk.

  2. I enjoyed reading this comment better than the story above… well said.

    I’m a Strava premium member and never heard of the KOM and still don’t care because I ride for me not for glory.

  3. I’m going out on a limb here guessing that you (or Bryan, or maybe someone else – as we’re all trying to figure out around Omaha) are the reason that virtually ALL of the segments along the Keystone are now systemically flagged as hazardous.
    I broke my leg being a show-off in Swanson, but I didn’t turn around and flag the entire park out of “retaliation” for my own poor judgment.
    Guess what, there are dogs and walkers and horseback riders in Swanson, too. Using Bryan’s criteria, it should all be flagged. Oh, and safety is still a shared responsibility on the roads, as well. We should flag all those, too, to protect people from themselves.
    FYI: It’s up YOU to be personally accountable for your safety and the safety of others and and ride within your limits. Thanks for making that call for everyone else who DOES ride safely. And thanks for ruining the system for everyone else who plays within the boundaries of safety, responsibility, and common sense.
    An, thanks, Bryan, I’m going to report you to Strava for publicly threatening to flag every segment that this one user creates – not because they are hazardous, but because you’ve publicly acknowledged that you have a “vendetta” against this guy. It’s not your job to be the “Strava police” just because you have an axe to grind against this one reckless individual.

    1. Yeah, see – here’s the problem with your argument. I’m not making a point about protecting anybody from themselves. This is about protecting others from folks chasing little crowns made of pixels. In your Swanson crash, who did you endanger other than yourself? Anybody? Probably not.

      In the crash discussed above, every single user of the trail with an active leaderboard is at risk when someone is trying to do 30-plus mph in an environment clearly not made for such activities. Hurting yourself, while unfortunate, is an entirely different matter than plowing into someone else and injuring them.

      Also, I’m not flagging segments because I don’t like John. I don’t know him. I’m flagging segments because, having ridden those areas, I recognized that they’re not safe for speeds like that. It’s not about a vendetta. It’s about keeping folks safe from those who might not necessarily have the same concern for others.

    2. Bryan,
      Is not the only one that does that. I will, have and will continue blocking all multiuse trails as dangerous. I don’t have vendetta against this guy I wrote a blog about this very subject like 2 years ago. IF you would like list of great flat segments for road with minimal traffic please do tell me I have many places where you can go wild

  4. To add to Bryan’s response, at Swanson and the rest of the local singletrack trails it is expected that people will be riding hard and fast and they are meant for that. Sure, you have casual users you are there to enjoy nature and whatnot, but they know to be watchful of cyclists using the trail for its intended purpose. The MUTs, on the other hand, were not built with the same intent, and therefore most users of the trails are not aware of the fact that they need to be watchful of cyclists trying to ride as fast as they can. And they shouldn’t have to be on the watch for these cyclist, because that’s not what the trails are meant for. The MUTs are, for all intents and purposes, very nice sidewalks, and like Bryan said in his first response, we don’t race on sidewalks!

    If you want to ride fast, there are lots of places to do that in the Omaha area. Join one of the several weekly group rides (but please leave the aerobar equipped bike at home when riding with a group) or go hammer on one of the local highways. There’s some great ones out there!

  5. Let’s be honest. Cyclists have been disregarding safety long before Strava existed. Strava is a scapegoat for individual failures of personal accountability and safety. Five years ago, reckless cyclists were buzzing people on the trails for PRs or max avg mph. Before that, they were doing sprints against each other and playing chicken with anyone in their path. Flagging every segment in Omaha won’t change this type of reckless behavior. These same types will create private segments and go right back at it. TBH, I can’t prove that any cyclist who buzzes me on the trail is even a Strava user. Strava doesn’t have a monopoly on jerks.

    I fully appreciate your points, Bryan R. And I respect your opinions. I won’t argue the validity of your concerns and feel that you are mostly justified in your stance. But, I seriously disagree with your heavy-handed attempts at flagging every Strava segment you personally don’t approve of. And the timing of your mass flagging certainly looks like a “lesson” being taught.

    We all know that some portions of the Keystone are more hazardous than others, and some simply aren’t (the Bellevue Loop is always desolate). If safety is your primary concern, then your logic would support flagging segments along the MOPAC and the Wabash (walkers, slow riders, families, horses, etc.) And marked bike lanes (traffic, parked cars, peds, etc.) And frankly, we should include segments where cyclists are encouraged to take unnecessary risks, including all the urban & road segments where people are encouraged to break residential speed limits, blast through lights or stop signs, cook turns, or gun traffic intersections for time. (You didn’t target any of those in your flag-fest.)

    LethalTri’s stunts makes cyclists, as a whole, look really bad. No argument here. I’m not defending him or his behavior. (And yes, that segment should be flagged – it should have never been created.) But, is one person flagging the entire trail system really the answer? By systematically flagging dozens of segments, Bryan has basically shut down a large portion of Strava for everyone else – people who were using segments not for chasing KOMs, but for monitoring personal progress over time.

    Not assuming anyone cares, but I bike commute along the same segments hundreds of times a year and I track my averages using Strava. (Not everyone is out for crowns, some of us track metrics). Because I can use Strava with my Garmin and my iPhone on multiple bikes, it’s become my de-facto tracking tool. By flagging the segments, I lost access to a TON of historical segment data. I’m sure you didn’t consider people like me (data trackers) when you flagged the entire Keystone – but YOUR ACTIONS made MY personal data disappear and I’m mighty angry about that. That was a lot of data (and time) that I’ve invested that’s now gone. Thanks.

    So I get to start all over by creating X number of private segments along the trail so I can start over capturing my data. Why? Because 1 person deemed the public Keystone segments (all of ’em) off limits for me and the 100+ other Strava users in the Omaha area. So thanks for teaching *all* of us – even the average cyclists like me – this lesson that even if you play by all the rules (and go out of your way to be safe and courteous to others), that you suffer the same consequences as those who do not. You didn’t consider the rest of us. (Nor did Strava with their bad interface design.)

    As a side note: I know exactly why I got hurt in Swanson (not that I expect anyone to care). I made a rookie mistake, but the injury was also mechanically related (pedal/cleat did not disengage so my leg snapped). I’m not a reckless cyclist and no one else was endangered. I used to spend a ton of hours maintaining Swanson every year – and would get repeatedly buzzed by jerks who couldn’t be bothered to slow down to safely pass me while I was holding a LARGE INDUSTRIAL-GRADE POWER TOOL (I can’t hear you, so slow down!) I can only imagine how they treated other trail users – walkers, runners, families, the horseback riders, etc. (FYI: I quit volunteering in Swanson 3+ years ago. Threw in the towel along with Frank. The trail went to hell immediately thereafter.) Contrary to some opinions, safety is just as important on multi-use singletrack as it is on the multi-use paved trail – because there are still other people on the trails. Bikers don’t “own” the trails, even though they often behave as such. The justification to flag multi-use single track like Swanson, Tranquility, Jewell, etc. is just as valid as flagging the Keystone MUPs. But that’s NOT popular and I’m NOT suggesting it.

    Feel free to flame away at me, but these actions affected me, and others like me. And we didn’t cause the problems.

  6. In my long, selfish tirade, I again failed to acknowledge that a fellow cyclist was injured. John, I hope you have a speedy and full recovery and are back on your bike soon.

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  8. You Sir, are a total idiot. You should do some real races every once and a while. You know with a closed course so you don’t put other people, who are not willing participants on your foolish quest for glory, at risk.

  9. Folks using Strava on mult iuse trails are acting horribly irresponsibly, all because the leg shaving doesn’t do enough for their frail ego. Glad you got hurt, maybe that is what it will take for you to understand the idiocy of your endeavor and the potential harm you could cause others? If you do it again, hopefully the same result will occur. You people need to understand there is more to the world than you and your ego. Strava: Italian for ‘spraying’.

  10. You are an arrogant menace and a total cunt. I’m glad you didn’t take anyone out with your douchey recklessness and everyone who uses that path is better off because of your injury. Next time you want to ride that fast, be a grown up and do it on the street or be generous to mankind and do it without a helmet. There enough selfish, dangerous dicks in the gene pool.

  11. Respect is earned during group rides, not through digital crowns.

    If you really want to drill it and see how hard you can ride, head out to Wednesday Night Worlds.

    no Tri bikes, just roadies.

    Every Six PM each Wednesday at the Trek Store – Midtown.

    Are you up for the challenge?

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