Friday, August 21, 2015

Stravistix for Strava

When I used to use simple cyclometers to see my speed and distance while riding, that seemed to be plenty of data for me. I'd put one on the bars and look at the screen to know everything. It started getting complicated when I added other bikes, with different tire and wheel sizes. I fussed with changing the calibration for a while, which was a hassle. More often than not I simply skipped the whole deal, but I missed keeping an eye on those basic stats.

When switched to a GPS computer that I could move from bike to bike, everything changed. And when I figured out how to get that data into Strava, I gained insight into a lot more information about how I ride.

Now I've added another dimension to that, thanks to Stravistix. This is a browser extension for Chrome and Opera that enhances the standard Strava web page with several convenient features such as expanded map options, quick links to Velo Viewer and RaceShape, and a few options to customize what's shown.

Here's a comparison between the default activity overview (in Internet Explorer)...

...and the Stravistix enhanced version (Chrome):

The basics are all there in both, and the enhanced version brings a few extra details about climbing, effort expended, and some analytic numbers. (Also a barcode link. I understand that it links to the activity page on the web and the app, but I haven't figured out why that's helpful.)

Where it really gets fun is the feature called "Extended Statistics". Following that link pops up a page that starts out with some overview information. The details are explained in the online help, and even without those they're good for comparing different efforts and rides.

The rest of the page provides deep detail about speed, power, heart rate, cadence, grade, and elevation. The data is the same as Strava's default analytics shows, but the presentation is a bit more sophisticated.

For example, Strava uses a simple average speed that is computed directly from time and distance. A long slow climb with a shorter fast descent could have the same average as a totally flat ride at a constant speed, as long as the math works out. The extended information shows statistics about how many minutes were spent in different speed ranges, which can be customized.

The Grade stats can really help quantify the difference a few hills can make. Note that 0% (flat) is pretty much in the center here, so downhill time is on the left and climbing is on the right. This is another area where a simple average might be misleading.

Grade stats make it easier to compare multiple rides on different routes. Here's a different hilly course that feels similar to ride:

It gives similar details about power. I have no power meter, so this example uses the estimated power data. That probably explains away the nearly five minutes where I appear to have put out over 500W. By the way, each of the bars has a summary of its data that appears when you hover your mouse over it, but I wasn't able to capture it in the examples.

The cadence view includes a data tidbit I've always wondered about but can't find elsewhere: total crank revolutions. There's some good insight here for repeat rides on the same course - also, I clearly could pedal more here.

Stravistix also allows you to see the extended statistics for activities by others. I don't use a heart rate monitor, so I've borrowed the heart rate stats from another rider on the same activity. Because some of the metrics relate to private profile information, when analyzing someone else's records it uses mine instead so the analysis isn't perfect - but it's still insightful.

Other than the extended information, Stravistix makes a few other modifications. Some are linked from the overview page of the activity, such as quick links to VeloViewer, RaceShape, and weather almanac views. These are found in the navigation box to the left of the activity details.

Stravistix is a great enhancement to Strava, for cyclists and runners, and for both basic and premium users. It seems to crash occasionally, but in Chrome that only affects the current tab and reloading it brings everything right back. It's completely free to use all the features, but there's a simple link to make a voluntary contribution to the author via PayPal. Download it by name from the Chrome web store.

Coming soon: I'll take a look at the similar-but-different Strava Enhancement Suite.

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