Now It’s Not A Ride Unless You Suffer

I was pleased to see a couple of new B riders on our club ride recently. We need an infusion of new blood, because the B turnout has been weak lately.

These two, Frank and Yasmin, turned out to be strong riders. During the outbound leg of our ride (an out-and-back route), Frank stayed right on Buddy’s wheel. Buddy tends to get well out in front of the rest of us, and treats himself to a bit longer rest at the turnaround point.

Then, Yasmin passed me, and I put in a greater effort than usual to stay with her on the way out. These two can ride.

On the way back, it was me and Frank in one twosome, and a way behind us, Yasmin and Buddy. All of us finished the ride feeling fresh.

Janice eagerly checks her Strava Suffer Score at the end of a ride.
Janice eagerly checks her Strava Suffer Score at the end of a ride.

When I posted about the B ride on our club’s Yahoo group, New York John said he was glad to hear about them, and that Janice would be in touch with them soon about Strava. Janice is our Strava addict, constantly trying to set the mark for various segments on our routes.

It turned out that Janice had gotten to them already, and wouldn’t you know it — they were already Strava users! Because they’re new to it, they don’t have any King or Queen of the Mountains — but they’ll come soon.

I decided to tweak Janice a bit: “Meanwhile, Janice, I continue to use my $12 Schwinn. Current speed, max speed, avg, speed, elapsed time, distance. What more do I need?”

Little did I know that Strava has a feature you just can’t do without: The Suffer Score.

“I am all in awe of the Suffer Score now,” Janice said.  “It measures your effort using your heart rate and other ride info to derive the score.  A rider who is working harder will get a higher score, even if they are going slower then someone who is working less hard but going faster.  It is cool to see how fast your friends are on Strava, and who get the crowns, etc., but it’s even cooler to see how hard some people work on the bike.”

Yipes. I told her I already knew I was suffering, just by trying to keep up with Frank on the return leg of our ride.

“Give up, Ray,” said Buddy. “Come over to the dark side.” It turns out he’s on Strava, too. Apparently, I am the only one in the club who hasn’t taken that step yet.

Strava ranks the suffer scores into categories: Leisurely, Moderate, Tough, Extreme, and Epic. Some of the club members have been chattering about “epic rides they’ve been on  recently, and now I know they’re not using the term the way “Wayne’s World” used it.

Doggone it, I’m determined to hold out. I do push myself from time to time, and I do have segments where I huff and puff to finish. I can tell when I’ve been suffering. Having a number to put on it won’t make the ride any more (or less) a triumph.


  1. Jeff A says

    My club did a ride yesterday that included a local “mountain [Sewanee, TN]. My “suffer” meter was the fact that I had to dismount and walk five times on the way up the mountain. After a missed turn, I wound up doing almost 71 miles.

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