STRAVA Segment Hunting – In Search of Fateful, Wind-Assisted Days
You get up in the morning and have that nagging feeling that you are close to peak cycling form. There must be a segment, somewhere that you can PB/PR on? Actually, maybe if you have today and/or tomorrow ‘off’ you’ll be in even better shape for the weekend and perhaps one of those highly elusive KOM/QOMs could be on the cards? Then again, it is windy outside and that will scupper or boost your chances depending on where you focus your efforts.
You might recognise that scenario as you then spend an hour or so checking various weather forecasts and your training status. Then you remember that you’d checked out myWindsock a while back and, as if by cycling magic, this email pings into your inbox.
So that’s nice, you can turn the PC/MAC off and have a life for the next couple of days before donning your special time trial lycra at 5PM on Saturday for a decent warmup for a STRAVA segment that possibly only you care about! If you think that simple email is all that myWindsock can do then you would be a little bit wrong. aka a LOT wrong.
Think of everything weather-related and route-related you could possibly use to predict cycling performance and write a list. It’s a big list, a beautiful list. Talk to a knowledgeable mate and ask them the same question as you make your list even longer. Even if a third mate joins in you still won’t come up with a list of wind- and route-stuff between you all that’s as complete as what myWindsock offers.
I’ve been playing with myWindsock over the last few weeks and some of the key features that stood out to me that apply to STRAVA KOM/QOM hunters are
- ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF OPTIMAL CONDITIONS: Set a Windsock on Segments to receive alerts for when the conditions will be optimal (that’s the email, above)
- OPTIMAL SEGMENTS IN LONGER RIDES: View and Filter Segments on your planned route that suit you. Filter by tailwind, gradient and predicted time and other factors.
- SEGMENT PREDICTOR: Predict your time on Segments by entering your power, CdA changes or weight
- WEATHER IMPACT ON SEGMENTS: View the historic weather for Segment Leaderboard efforts. So you can see how the weather affected each effort.
Looking at myWindsock more generally, there are 3 use-cases: pre-ride reconnaissance to assist pacing by modelling weather forecasts; post-ride analysis to view CdA; and aerodynamic testing and CdA calculation of looped courses
myWindsock IS a little hard to understand and get to grips with. It is complex and not always intuitive, however, you get what you want in the end…usually with a few interesting distractions on the way. The email alerts are cool and once you are looking at one of your target/favourite segments it’s easy enough to enable a new one, like this…
Reviewing Past Glories
You can also relive past glories and bemoan other riders’ better choices of days as the chart below shows. Tom F. …I know where you live ;-), that’s my third place. The leaderboard is a copy of what’s in STRAVA plus augmented analysis and you can also see the wind rose at the top of the chart which indicates the wind strength and direction that led to the top times or, in my case, the lack of a strong wind. #Sigh.
Even though you can only save 5 target segments, the wind rose analysis can be useful as a tool by itself. For example, to determine the best wind direction for looped courses or the same course reversed or perhaps even the same long loop with different starting points. Because myWindsock is showing ACTUAL efforts and the likely prevailing wind then, to a large degree, the ranked results will be taking into account wind shadows and wind funnelling which are factors that you would find difficult to estimate the impact of by yourself.
You can also replay your segment performance PR/PB and get an indication at each point in time what the impact of the resistance factors was. As expected this graphic shows the importance of wind resistance at 51.6km/h.
CdA for your STRAVA Activity
Colourful Wind Lines illuminate the forecast weather on your planned route. So you can assess when it will rain and where the longest headwind will be. You can find out how many watts the weather cost you or if you try less hard in a headwind (me!…but now I can prove it with numbers)
How you start
Link your STRAVA account, paste a STRAVA segment URL or upload your GPX/TCX and you are good to go. Komoot and RwGPS are linkable too.
Also try these
This is a well-liked and well-used tool by many more serious cyclists yet equally accessible by the likes of you and me.
There are some serious and material benefits and insights you will get from myWindsock. However, you have to put in some initial time to set it up ‘just so’ for you. Similarly, to really benefit on race day you will spend a fair while preparing both with myWindsock and probably on the course itself – but you do the latter already, right?
It’s £20 a year for the premium service but there are benefits from the free myWindsock service.
If you are super nerdy when it comes to analysing your cycling efforts then you’ve probably already got myWindsock, if not, you know what to do.
If you are a time trialist then, again, you probably already have this. Interesting factette – “4 of the top 5 in the British National 10-Mile Championship recce’d the course using myWindsock.”
Try it out: myWindsock.com
Disclaimer: This is NOT paid-for content, although I did get free access to a premium account. If you sign up with myWindsock I don’t benefit, I’m just writing because I found it interesting! Please consider helping the work here and signing up as a supporter.