Cyclists log 8.1 billion miles — and other stats from Strava’s Year in Sport report

Strava's annual report tracks the surge in Everesting, the creation of clubs, and other trends from the COVID-19 year.

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The coronavirus pandemic brought a number of things to a halt in 2020, but cycling wasn’t one of them. According to Strava, cyclists recorded some 8.1 billion millions collectively on the social fitness app. Riders in the United States contributed 1.2 billion miles to that tally, for the period between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, which Strava used for its annual Year in Sport report.

Indoor riding was up significantly, as was the phenomenon of Everesting, as was well documented on VeloNews. More than 700 Everesting rides — where the rider hit 29,029 feet of elevation gain in a single ride by repeating a climb — were logged on Strava. During the same period the year prior, that number was less than 100.

Uploaded outdoor activities by country varied considerably in March and April (the highlighted sections above), when the coronavirus exploded around most of the world. The orange lines are actual uploads, compared to what Strava expected based on prior years.

Challenges in general were popular, as virtual competitions and solo efforts replaced in-person competition for many athletes.

Strava reports that more than 30,000 clubs were created on the platform in April alone, with nearly 250,000 athletes joining a club on Strava.

Former pro cyclist and current pro epidemiologist Lauren De Crescenzo personified many of these trends, not just posting big numbers or completing an Everesting ride but setting a Everesting world record in May and raising money for Craig Rehabilitation in the process.

“I’ve already reached well over 1 million feet of elevation gain and 15,000 miles, surpassing all my prior years,” said De Crescenzo, who started the Fauci Fan Club on Strava with her fiancé Jim. The club now has more than 2,500 members.

De Crescenzo also went all in on virtual riding, seeing her highest heart rate in years during the time trial stage of the Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race. “I’ve never gone so hard on a trainer,” she said. “It was an amazing opportunity to compete with the best in the country without needing to leave my apartment. The lack of travel makes it a great equalizer for the 40-hour per week worker.”

Strava’s most popular challenge with the 5K Challenge, a running challenge, that drew in more than a million people, a record for Strava.

In total, more than 71 million challenges were joined on Strava between January and September, according to the company.

Globally, women increased their number of activities uploaded to Strava more than men did. Between April and September, women aged 18-29 uploaded 45.2 percent more activities than during the same period year, compared to a 27.3 percent increase by their male counterparts.

“During a challenging year of physical distancing, it has been a privilege to connect athletes to what motivates them and help them find their personal best,” Strava CEO Michael Horvath said in a release. “Community members shared more than a billion activities including nearly 400 million photos with each other, from solitary virtual marathons and Everesting bike rides to midday walks while working from home.”

Spain endured an extreme lockdown in March and April — and indoor riding spiked because of it. Compare this chart to Spain’s outdoor riding chart for the same period in the multiple-country chart above.

Other interesting statistics include:

  • 73 million people on Strava
  • 7.1 billion kudos given
  • 1.1 billion activities uploaded
  • 386.4 million photos uploaded
  • 21.5 million uploads a week
  • Average ride length — 15.8mi globally / 13.5mi in the U.S.
  • Average ride duration — 1:15 globally / 1:07 in the U.S.

Strava’s Year In Sport 2020 report included publicly viewable activities uploaded between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Activities marked private were not included.

Unlike Spain, the U.S. didn’t have such an extreme lockdown in March and April, but as many other activities were restricted, Strava athletes logged far more outdoor rides and runs than Strava would have predicted based on prior years’ data.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.