So in news that has been overshadowed by Strava’s Heat Map controversy, the latest update to the
willy waving ride logging app is that Strava will be allowing virtual miles and elevation to be counted towards challenge badges.
This has caused a bit of a stir in certain circles with people seemingly being either very anti or very for this change, but in actual fact very little has changed so far.
So firstly, let’s clear a few things up:
— Strava’s own challenges will be real rides only (for now). It’s partner companies such a Le Col and Rapha that will be able to choose if virtual rides count towards their own challenges.
— It’s only virtual miles that have logged virtual GPS and speed/distance data. No spinning on the rollers/trainer and recording on your Garmin. It has to be apps such as Zwift and FulGaz.
— So far, it’s only been the Le Col challenge that has allowed virtual rides to count towards it’s challenge.
Now, I’m a huge Zwift junkie, but am not a fan of mixing virtual and road rides into the same challenges. I’ve ridden well over 4000 virtual “miles” on Zwift and I can tell you this, they are NOT equal to road miles.
Yes they are hard, yes they are awesome training, yes smart trainers are incredibly immersive, but no – they are not the same. For example, I can join a big virtual group ride and punch away averaging over 40kph on Zwift. Sure it hurts and I’m pedalling hard – but even with perfect conditions and a good crew pulling me along, averaging that on the open road (for me) would be nigh on impossible.
Now counting hours I can understand, an hour’s worth of training on the turbo or on the road. Sure they’re different, but you’ve still put in that hour! That’s where the current Le Col challenge differs. It’s clocking up hours rather than distance.
Where this Strava update could get creative is totally separate challenges that are purely for virtual miles. I can forsee Zwift getting in on the action and creating challenges that are based solely on Zwift mileage, elevation or hours. Now that would be an interesting addition to the mix!