Are you getting desperate because there will be no cycling races soon? No problem. You can compete virtually on the Strava app. All you need is a road bike and an internet connection.
The Strava app is a cycling and running tracker that allows you to record your route, speed, distance, and elevation. It also has a social media component that will enable you to share your rides and runs with other users. KOM stands for “King of the Mountain” and is a title given to the cyclist who is fastest up a particular segment of a cycling route. There is also a title for “Queen of the Mountain” (QOM).
Segments are typical climbs, but can also be flat sections. There are even some downhill segments, but be careful.
The KOM on a particular segment is the cyclist with the fastest time on a segment.
As an example, here is the leaderboard of one of the most famous Strava segments, the legendary climb of Mont Ventoux:
As you can see, many strong riders are at the most challenging and popular segments. However, if you’re a road cyclist looking to take a Strava KOM, you can do a few things to improve your chances.
If you’re new to road cycling or looking to take your first KOM, you can do a few things to increase your chances of success. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Strava KOM or QOM.
How to take a Strava KOM – Fitness is critical.
It might sound like common sense, but fitness is key when it comes to road cycling. The fitter you are, the better your chances of taking a KOM. If you’re new to road cycling, gradually increase your mileage and intensity. Once you’ve built up your base fitness level, you can start doing specific workouts to improve your power and speed.
If you’re already reasonably fit, there are still things you can do to improve your chances of taking a KOM. Interval training is a great way to boost your power and speed, which will come in handy when taking a KOM. Try incorporating some hill workouts into your training as well. Not only will this help build leg strength, but it will also help you get used to cycling at a high intensity.
Most segments are relatively short (less than 5min); therefore, you will benefit from specific workouts designed for anaerobic power and VO2 max. Thus, you can use your attempts for KOM segments as part of your race preparation or pre-season training.
Making a test ride is often the easiest way to improve your pacing strategy. You can find more tips on conserving energy and making a perfect pace here.
In addition to working on your fitness, it’s also important to be well-rested before attempting a KOM. Be sure to get enough sleep and take rest days when needed. This will help ensure that you’re fresh and ready to ride when it comes time to try for a KOM.
Strava Segments – Choose the correct route
When trying to take a KOM, it’s essential to choose the correct route. A flat road is not going to be ideal if you’re looking for a challenge. Instead, look for courses that have hills or other features that will make them more challenging.
Strava live segments are starred or popular segments that have been designated live. When you approach a live segment, you will be transitioned to a Live Segment notification where you will hear an audible cue (if enabled) and see the segment name and position relative to that segment. Additionally, you can follow your avatar and the avatars for your personal records (if one exists for this segment) and your progress.
For example, Box Hill is one of the most popular Strava segments because it is a challenging climb that offers cyclists a great workout. The climb up Box Hill is about 2.5 km long with an average gradient of 4.7%. Admittedly, this segment is not the most challenging climb in the world, but being part of the route for the 2012 Olympic road race, the 2014 Tour de France, and the 2015 Road World Championships, many road cyclists like to test themselves on the Box Hill.
But there are other segments closer to you than famous segments like Box Hill, Alpe d’Huez, or Mont Ventoux. You’ll be surprised to find many of your favorite routes and climbs as segments where you can become KOM on your local segments.
You should also pay attention to the length of the route. A longer route is going to be more challenging than a shorter one. If you’re starting, choosing a shorter path is probably best. Of course, you can always attempt a longer route once you’ve gotten some KOMs under your belt.
Finally, ensure you’re familiar with the route before attempting a KOM. This means riding the route at least once (preferably more) so that you know what to expect. Logically, you must know exactly where the segment starts. Also, some cycling routes are longer (several hours), so you must know where you are going. Finally, there’s nothing worse than trying to take a KOM on a new route and getting lost!
Strava KOM hunting – Time your attempt well
If you’re looking to try a Strava segment, timing is everything. The best time to attempt a KOM is usually early in the morning or later in the evening. This is because there tends to be less traffic on the road during these times. However, on short segments where aerodynamics plays a significant role, you can increase your chances of becoming KOM if the temperature is 28 to 30 C. Thus, the perfect timing might be a compromise between temperature and time of day.
In addition to timing your attempt well, it’s also essential to know the weather conditions. If it’s raining or there’s a strong wind, your chances of taking a KOM will be lower. Wait for a day when the conditions are ideal before attempting a KOM.
Of course, you’ll need to consider the weather when timing your attempt. If it’s too hot or too cold, you probably won’t be able to ride as fast as you would like. Windy conditions can also make it more challenging to take a KOM.
If you’re hoping to take a KOM on a popular route, there’s a good chance someone else will try for the same thing. Also, there is much more prestige in making a KOM if strong or even pro riders have attempted the same segment before you.
For this reason, it’s essential to time your attempt well and implements the practical tips in the following section.
If you have a power meter, you can use it to pace yourself on a Strava Segment. For example, if you attempt a 3-min hill, find your 3-minute power from your Power Duration Curve. Then, figure out your best performance at a certain distance or time. Then, during the segment, try to maintain this power as close as possible. This will help you perform close to your physical potential and hopefully take the KOM!
Get the right equipment.
To take a KOM on the Strava app, you will need a road bike and a GPS device. The road bike is important because it will help you ride faster and more efficiently. A GPS device is also necessary so your time can be accurately measured.
There are a few different types of GPS devices that you can use. A dedicated cycling GPS is the best option, but you can also use a smartphone or fitness tracker. If you use a smartphone, make sure it is securely mounted to your bike so it doesn’t fall off during your ride.
You should also make sure that your tires are properly inflated. This will help you ride faster and reduce the risk of getting a flat tire. Every second counts when you attempt, so do your best to optimize your chances: Empty your bottle (or leave it to your cycling buddy). You can find inspiration for making your road bike lighter here. Also, you can find more practical tips here and here.
Please remember that safety always comes first. Always. Please don’t risk your health for a stupid personal record.
In addition to the tips above, you can do a few other things to increase your chances of taking a gold crown.
First, try to ride with others who are also Strava KOM hunting. This will motivate you to ride faster and push yourself harder. Also, the opportunity to benefit from drafting will significantly increase your chances of success.
Second, make sure you warm up properly before attempting a KOM. A good warm-up will help you ride faster and prevent injuries.
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you fail the first time. It takes practice and perseverance to take a KOM. Keep trying, and you’ll eventually reach the leaderboard.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to taking Strava KOMs. Just remember to keep at it and never give up. With a little effort, you’ll be on top of the leaderboard in no time.