Getting Started

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get started with the SMMT Challenge.These all assume that you have already created your Strava account and then joined the challenge.

1) Pick a segment to ride. If you aren’t familiar with the segments listed then start with an easy segment. This means one with a short distance and a low average grade. A good road segment to start with would be Encinal Canyon and a good MTB segment would be Mulholland to Etz Fireroad.

2) Once you have your segment picked out you need to study it. Start with looking at the other times that the challenge participants have posted on the segment leaderboards on the challenge website (like the links posted above). Clicking on the times on those leaderboards will take you to the rides on Strava. This will allow you to see the routes that other riders took to get to the segment. Also look at the segment details on Strava to see the full leaderboards and other stats.

3) This next step is probably the most important step in the process. Make sure you visit the Strava page for the segment. You can get there by clicking on the Strava icon  on the challenge website page for the segment. On the Strava page change the map settings from Map to Satellite 

Encinal Satellite


Once you are in the Satellite view, zoom in and look closely at the start and end points of the segment so you are sure you know where they are. For instance, here is the end of the Encinal Canyon segment.

Encinal End


You can see that it ends right at the corner. This means that you should not stop riding at the corner or anywhere before the corner if you want a fast time. You need to ride past this corner. This brings us to the next tip.

4) Make sure you start riding hard (meaning fast) at least 100 feet before the segment starts and at least 100 feet after the segment ends. This will help you avoid having “resting time” in your effort which translates to you moving down the leaderboard because you weren’t paying attention to where the segment’s start and end was. Or in some cases it means the segment doesn’t register at all and you won’t find out until you upload your ride.

5) Make sure your GPS is working before you get to the segment start. This means that (1) you started the timer, (2) the timer is running and the time is changing, and (3) you have a GPS signal. Usually if the timer is running and the time is changing, then you have a valid GPS signal. If you start the segment and you don’t have a GPS signal, the segment will not show up on Strava which means it will not show up on the challenge. So it would be a nice practice run, but you would have to go back and do it again to get credit.

6) If you have a Garmin, use your lap timer to help you gauge your effort on the climb. The lap time is helpful, but do not expect that the lap time you have on your Garmin will match the segment time on Strava. The lap time depends on how exact you are in starting and stopping in the right place. This is usually not very accurate because it is hard to do it right and segment times on Strava are not an exact science. Instead, make sure that you have the field “Average Lap Speed” on your display an use this instead. You will still need to hit the lap start button, but now instead of time, try to gauge yourself on the average speed. Even if your lap start and stop are not super accurate, your average lap speed should give you a good idea of where you will land on the leaderboard.

7) Make sure you are having fun! Don’t take it too serious. Compete with your friends and know that no matter what your friends and competitors will just make you faster.

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7 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. Scott Searway

    This looks like an excellent challenge. It will get me to explore new things that I have not ridden in a long time. Thanks for organizing this challenge.

  2. Douglas Kubler

    Another tip to add – The Strava map shows icons for the start and end of segments. For roads Google offers street view. Enter street view and the icons will appear in their proper positions in the photos.

  3. Bear Thompson

    Thanks, Bryant! A lot of my climbs this year may be in recovery mode, but I’ll sure enjoy seeing everyone else suffer 😉


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