Strava is all about the segments and bragging rights are gained by being top of the leaderboard for a segment. But for those of us living in areas with many other cyclists, we are very unlikely to be fast enough to top most of the local segments, even if we get pushed along by a massive tailwind. Here’s an example near me, with nearly 50,000 riders attempting it over half a million times. The leaderboard contains a number of professional cyclists, since a number of races have passed through, so I’m never going to get anywhere near the top (since you asked, I’m at about 10,000 currently).
But we all want our own KOM/QOM, so what to do?
Find an obscure segment
Head over to my Strava segment search tool and zoom in and pan around a bit. You should see quite a few more segments than you’ll find with Strava’s own search. They’ll generally be less popular segments and hence more likely to have beatable times.
Create your own obscure segment
I have a couple of KOMs for my rides to and from work. These are fairly meaningless KOMs since I’m the only person to ride one of the segments and the other one has only been ridden by one other rider. But if that’s enough to make you feel you’ve made it as a rider, then go ahead and create your own segment. For this to work, you need to decrease the chance of anyone else riding your segment, so stick to obscure roads, make the segment fairly long and choose a route that nobody would ever normally follow. This is a brilliant example, one day I’ll get round to riding it to see if I can top the leaderboard
A while back I headed out on a ride, going down some roads I haven’t explored before. On getting home I discovered I’d topped a leaderboard without even trying. Admittedly only 10 other people have ridden the segment but it still counts!
There are websites that will take the output from your bike computer and shift it around so it appears you went faster than you did. No, really. It’s obvious chasing after Strava KOMs is a fairly pointless activity, but cheating to do it has to be the most ridiculous thing ever.
But what about inadvertently cheating? Whilst on a ride, my GPS went a bit haywire and for a few minutes I was at the top of a leaderboard. I guess the algorithms at Strava spotted the mistake (or the former holder of the KOM) and I was demoted pretty quickly. But what about this one? Everybody on the first page of that leaderboard is averaging over 78mph, which is very impressive for a hilly segment round Richmond Park. But if you look at the actual rides for those amazing times, none of them bear any relation to the actual segment, they are just in the same general area. Figure out how that bug works and you could be topping lots of leaderboards.