Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the Strava phenomenon and if you’re not, where have you been? Riders everywhere are GPSing their rides and uploading them to the Strava database where they can track all sorts of things like mileage, power and heart rate.

I know that not every rider is like me and some can handle Strava responsibly but I would like to remind everyone that while there may not be an app to record it, your GNAR score still counts.

Oh, and don’t forget who’s got the coveted KOM – King of the Mountain – on their favorite trail.

Again, for those that don’t know the KOM goes to the rider with the fastest time. And yes, this can essentially turn every ride into a race.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.21.16 AMAnd yes, some riders have taken it way too far.

But while I personally don’t use Strava myself for reasons I’ll touch on in a second I don’t hate it. It is kind of like a gun – Strava doesn’t kill fun trail rides, people kill fun trail rides in the name of Strava.

However, I’ve always been bothered by something and that is the fact that no where on Strava does it record the other part of trail riding…the GNAR factor.

GNAR is the name of a ski movie and short for a game created by some skiers in Squaw Valley CA years ago. It stands for Gafney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness and was a way for the locals to grade both the difficulty and fun factor on each line.

In other words, skiing down a run didn’t mean anything. The real question was how much did you challenge yourself and how much fun did you have.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.20.55 AM

On the trail GNAR is best embodied in the old Freerider mentality – I may not be the fastest guy on the trail but I’m going to the hit craziest stuff I can find and have a ball, speed be damned.

Now, this isn’t to say that going fast isn’t fun and challenging, simply that going fast isn’t the same thing as fun and challenging.

I’ve seen and heard riders justify running through a technical rock garden or riding around a fun trail feature in the name of speed but that doesn’t do much for your GNAR score.

I’ll admit that I’m biased and think that mountain biking is more GNAR than Strava. Strava seems to be leaning a bit too much towards the roadie side of things for me…mountain biking is about so much more than simply getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible.

It also tends to reinforce the common problem of focusing on the outcome instead of the process.

I know because it happened to me.

I had Strava for a few weeks but the first time I came back to my car feeling pretty good about how I rode but got discouraged when I saw my time wasn’t as fast as I would have thought I erased it.

My focus went from the Internal Process to the External Outcome and I lost sight of the real reason I ride – to learn more and have fun.

I know that not every rider is like me and some can handle Strava responsibly but I would like to remind everyone that while there may not be an app to record it, your GNAR score still counts.

So, why do you ride?

I’ve admitted I think mountain biking is more GNAR that Strava but what do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know why you use or don’t use Strava or if you have any unique ways of using to improve your trail riding.

-James Wilson-

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