What Its Like to Ride Stravas Most Difficult Cycling Course

Algorithms influence our lives every day—whether it’s the social media we’re fed, the prices we see shopping online, or the route we travel on a summer road trip. And some of that big data smarts has started to make its way into fitness routines. Case in point: Strava, the fitness social network for runners and cyclists, can use information from its massive cache of user data to build a custom bike route tailored to a specific distance, difficulty, and more. So a pair of cyclists decided to put it to the test.

In the video posted by the Global Cycling Network, a duo of UK riders, Alex and Si, plan their route over coffee, choosing the maximum distance (160 kilometers), on dirt, with maximum hills. The app quickly spits out a route that’s 70 percent off-road, and the two are quickly on their way.

They quickly find themselves biking through local areas they’d never seen before, on gravel they didn’t know existed, and suddenly emerging from behind a supermarket into a vast, open field. They briefly note that Strava doesn’t always know which areas are off-limits to bikers (one commenter recommends Komoot or Ride With GPS to double-check), and pretty soon they’re debating whether to scale a hill dotted with sheep. Descending a dirt path that’s actually a semi-dry creekbed, they lament not bringing their mountain bikes. And that’s in the first ten kilometers.

Without giving away how their trek ends, the video illustrates one great reason for letting an app tell you were to go: You might end up somewhere you’ve never been before.

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