Welcome to the Age of Information

I haven’t ridden my bicycle much this year. I have plenty of reasons and none of them are very good. (well maybe some of them are pretty good.) In spite of the sunshine and conditions suitable for year round riding, South Florida should be considered a cyclists worst nightmare. I find it hard to imagine the riding down here appealing to anyone who has ever ridden anywhere else. Hating on the riding and the riders is too easy so I will stop. If you want to get gnarly strong and uber tough then this is a great place to ride. If you want to race ALOT then this is also a great place to ride. You don’t even need a USAC license to race in South Florida, just find a group ride consisting of more than 5 locals. It will be a race, I promise.

It has been over 3 months since I last straddled my road bike. I decided to leave it back home in NC, back where the riding is enjoyable, so I wouldn’t feel the pain of seeing my stead sit in anxious anticipation of our next foray.  While recovering from my concussion (another story) I watched the Tour de France with glee for the sport and remorse that I was not riding. The nausea and sound sensitivity alleviated too much longing but I knew when this setback had passed I would be right back to where I was before, trying to justify why I am not riding. Cast aside my reasons because they aren’t going to change. I can’t control my environment, I can choose to stay, or I can choose to leave. I don’t really want to accept that I live here but I wake up every day and realize…I’m still here.

Damn.

What’s it going to take to get my stoke on, to get jazzed to ride again, to be driven to turn the pedals up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A, then up A1A and back down A1A… Yeah, it is that bad.

Strava has changed the way we ride. It is just like any social media site and can bring out the best and the worst in people. And just like a viral video it can share all that is great and all that is vile far and wide. I found Velo Viewer browsing a chat forum on something cycling related. This one little image on someones post showed a holistic ranking of their Strava data. That little image brought me back to my days of discovering Strava. Consider me inspired. We love Strava because it pushes the envelope of what we thought possible. With a few clicks we can see how high we are up the KOM food chain. Many of my rides were motivated by Strava. I would not have been on these rides had I not been out to climb a rung on the KOM ladder. Riding is a good, riding with a purpose is even better.  I smile when I think about how much more fun it is to ride the ONC Bridge Sprint  segment than to just sprint over the bridge.

Velo Viewer may be just what I need to light that fire again. Or maybe I will finally accept I hate going to the gym and getting too far out of shape is not an option. Most of us are visual learners. We will remember faces better than phone numbers and we can “feel” our way back home despite not being able to give adequate directions. As Strava appeals to our inner competitior, Velo Viewer appeals to our visual learner. I am amazed and impressed by the dedication of people like Ben Lowe who create such beautiful and incredible applications then grant free access to the masses. From the creator,

“VeloViewer (formally StravaViewer) is the result of many, many late nights of Ben Lowe (right) fitting around the day job, hectic family life and the occasional bike ride.  It started life as a Windows Phone application to allow me to view my Strava data on my not quite so popular model of phone and to try and plug some of the holes in Strava’s own website. This soon turned into a website where I now get to explore the possibilities in data visualisation in modern browsers and hopefully give people new ways to view their past endeavours and provide extra motivation for future rides/runs. Apart from using the Strava API this site is not linked to Strava at all and is all built by my own fair hands in Sheffield, UK.”

Velo Viewer is the data driven cyclists wet dream. Without a doubt my favorite section to explore has been the segment details. The 3D graphics are stunning and provide exciting new perspective to the terrain. The features of Velo Viewer are too deep for a full review. Head on over to http://veloviewer.com/, connect with you existing Strava account and generate your own signature image. Slap that bad boy up on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. and be the envy of all your friends.

Inspiration is free of charge. The motivation is up to you.

Will Conkwright

Delray Beach, FL

September 29, 2014