Strava riders clocked up 8.5 billion kilometres in 2018

Annual overview offers insight into how far, how fast, how high and more

Like it or loathe it (and 36 million people definitely like it), Strava’s popularity is unquestionably growing. It’s annual round up of facts and figures provides a fascinating insight into what we all get up to on our bikes; how far, how fast and where we ride, and even what we like to eat and drink.

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The ride recording, mapping and social networking app is currently used by people or, as Strava likes to call them, athletes in 195 countries around the world. Those athletes have recorded a cumulative 10.7 billion kilometres over 32 different types of sport.

But of course, we’re just interested in the cycling stats, right?

Further and faster

The global data for cycling on Strava has some pretty chunky, positive stats
The global data for cycling on Strava has some pretty chunky, positive stats
Strava

There were 287.5 million rides uploaded to Strava over the course of 2018, which is up a whopping 21.9 percent on 2017.

Each athlete uploaded an average of 34.2 rides with an average distance of 35.2km and an average elevation per ride of 350.6m.

Total that up and you’ve got 8.5 billion kilometres of riding and 86.1 billion metres of climbing.

While there were 1,923,521 new segments created over 2018, one segment in Dorking, UK, has proved to be consistently the most popular. Part of the 2012 Olympic road route, ‘Box Hill – Junction to Island’ clocked up 492,520 segment attempts, making it the most popular segment in the world.

Cycling tops all the other sports on Strava when it comes to duration, with athletes spending on average 151 minutes riding solo or 136 minutes riding as a group, which leads us nicely on to the perks of togetherness.

Doing it together and having a goal

Group activities are on the increase, with virtual rides one of the biggest areas of growth
Group activities are on the increase, with virtual rides one of the biggest areas of growth
Strava

As well as riding for longer, cyclists in group activities also rode further than those that go it alone, riding an average of 49km per activity compared to 26.9km.

Riders, or indeed any athlete, in a club are also considerably more active than those who aren’t, uploading nearly three times as many activities as those who don’t belong to a club. Strava’s own club has a whopping 157,000 members, and Zwift has 5,300.

There are some obvious disclaimers here: solo riders may be commuters who will tend to have a shorter ride to or from work and group riders are more likely to be dedicated enthusiasts who tend to ride further and more frequently, so it’s not all down to being in a club.

That said, the motivational elements of being in a club do likely play a significant role. Clubs are great for getting riders out more often and encouraging them to ride harder, faster or longer.

Group riding isn’t just about road cycling clubs. With the growth of social networks and smart trainers these clubs can include virtual clubs, which people engage with online or in virtual training groups such as those on Zwift.

Cycling still tops the table in group activity uploads, but virtual group rides now outnumber real-world group rides.

Who doesn't want to grab a QOM or KOM on a segment?
Who doesn’t want to grab a QOM or KOM on a segment?
Strava

Goal setting is also a big motivating factor, and if you’re planning some new year’s resolutions, Strava’s data suggests that you’ve got a higher than average chance of success.

Athletes who set themselves a goal were over 90 percent likely to still be active six months later, whether that’s a distance goal or time goal. Furthermore, they were more active than athletes who didn’t set a goal, uploading 15.1 percent activities (rides) six months in.

Commuter kudos

Great news for health, the environment and general wellbeing, commuting by bike is up by 42.8 percent year on year on Strava, and commuters have offset a whopping 660.1 million kilograms of carbon.

There are 5.5 million riders who’ve marked activities as commutes, taking an average of 3.29 trips a week in the UK and Ireland, 2.43 in the US and 2.21 in France.

Boosting likes

If you’re an avid Strava athlete that’s keen to get more engagement from your posts, the advice is to add photos and emojis. Posts with either of these get twice the amount of ‘kudos’ – the Strava equivalent of a ‘like’ – than those without.

Cyclists aren’t the best at adding photos to their posts, with only 9 percent adding them to posts compared to 25 percent of backcountry skiers or 32 percent of snowshoers. To be fair, cyclists are usually a little preoccupied with holding the handlebars or drinking coffee.

Gender trends

Running is the most popular activity for female Strava users, while cycling is most popular with men
Running is the most popular activity for female Strava users, while cycling is most popular with men
Strava

Strava is still male dominated when it comes to cycling, with 50 million uploads from female users compared to 382 million uploads from male users.

Running is more popular than cycling for women on Strava, and vice versa for men.

When it comes to speed and duration of rides, men and women are pretty closely matched. The average speed of the average female athlete on Strava is 19.5km and for men it’s 22kmh, for duration is 1:30:28 for women and 1:38:37 for men.

The best of the rest

The most active day of the year for riding was Sunday 6 May with 1.2 million rides uploaded globally, which was more than half of all uploads for all activities that day.

For the UK specifically, it was Tuesday 26 June and in the US it was Saturday 14 July.

Tuesdays are also, apparently, the fastest day of the week with an average speed per activity of 22.18kmh.

We always knew cycling and coffee went hand-in-hand, and there's even more evidence to back that up now
We always knew cycling and coffee went hand-in-hand, and there’s even more evidence to back that up now
Strava

Finally, and arguably most importantly, Strava has offered us insight into the food and beverage choices of the Strava cyclist, and few will be surprised to learn that the number one beverage choice is coffee.

Cyclists are five times more likely to have coffee than runners, and also more than twice as likely to have cake than runners, which only demonstrates that we have our priorities right: bike, coffee, cake.

In case you’re worried that Strava is spying on your dietary habits, these observations are based on the terms used in the titles of activity uploads, so for example, coffee was referenced a whopping 491,000 times in cyclists’ activity uploads. 

The full breakdown runs as follows:

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  1. Coffee — 491k
  2. Beer — 343k
  3. Cake — 103k
  4. Donut — 23k
  5. Biscuit — 19k
  6. Pastry — 19k
Phew! That’s enough stats for now. We’re off to have a coffee.