Gear

Tech Podcast: Phil Gaimon knows why we should pay for Strava

Gaimon's post-racing career leans heavily on Strava's leaderboards. He says the fees are well worth it, but cautions against losing sight of the fun.

By now we’ve all heard the news that Strava is sticking its leaderboards and some other high-end features behind a subscription. The internet had opinions about this, which should come as no surprise: Paying for something you were previously getting for free is a hard pill to swallow. But this very necessary move doesn’t change a whole lot for those of us who have been using Strava daily for years. Just ask Phil Gaimon, who has made a name for himself conquering Strava’s leaderboards since his retirement in 2016.

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On this episode of the VeloNews Tech Podcast, Gaimon recounts how he first started using Strava after his retirement to pass the time, and eventually turn his rides into a venue for charitable giving.

While Strava is undoubtedly an important tool for Gaimon and his post-racing-career activities, he remains objective about the value of leaderboards. Strava should be about having fun, Gaimon insists, and he hopes his pursuit of KOMs will, to some extent, help users remember that the leaderboards don’t really matter. It’s about challenging yourself, and understanding there’s always someone faster than you. (Sure, some may be on e-bikes, but still…)

Gaimon also talks about setting an Everesting record — an honor that lasted less than a work week before Keegan Swenson unseated him. He has a sense of humor about the whole thing, which again reflects on the fleeting nature of Strava KOM glory – the numbers on the screen matter far less than the process of getting to that leaderboard in the first place, by pushing the pedals for hours on end. As Gaimon says, “If losing a KOM ruins your day, your day was in jeopardy to begin with.”

If you have questions about this episode of the VeloNews tech podcast, or if you have suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover on a future episode, feel free to reach out to tech editor Dan Cavallari via email, Instagram, or Twitter.