Your pouring with sweat, your bike is filthy, and there are a million and one urgent tasks vying for your attention. So, what do you do? Upload your ride to Strava and check your favourite segments, of course. If you’re like me, you see a list of segments with accompanying times together with the odd bronze, silver, or gold medal. Wouldn’t it be nice to bask in the glow of cups or even that elusive KOM or QOM? Of course it would! This week, I spill the beans and tell you how to change bronze to a cup and gold to a K/QOM.
Certainly, the most legitimate way to a K/QOM is to deliver a Stella ride based on nothing but your pure talent. Naturally, you’ll be blessed with super genes and have invested thousands of hours in training to be the very best. Of course, there’s lots of competition on the most popular segments, but you might just bag the result you deserve. Sadly, the world is populated by so many talented riders, your result will probably be short-lived - enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame.
Pros: Worldwide recognition of your achievement and you have that warm feeling of knowing that you’re the best and that you’ve earned this result.
Cons: Requires remarkable talent and training, it’s hard work, and some other talented individual will soon surpass your achievements.
Although extremely unethical, cheating is an easy and popular way to bag a segment’s top spot. Popular methods include giving your Garmin or phone to a talented individual and let them grab the prize; jump on an e-bike, stick it into turbo mode and pedal like fury - at least you’re pedalling; or simply save all the hard work and just do the segment in your car - you don’t even need to break a sweat.
Pros: No effort or talent required, and unless your chosen segment is popular with other cheats, you’re pretty much guaranteed the K/QOM.
Cons: No one will believe you - your friends know you’re pretty crappy and won’t buy your sub thirty-minute Alpe d‘Huez time.
Creating segments and riding them is quite legitimate, but often not in the spirit of things. If you fancy a crack at this approach, you can choose any one of the following methods:
Ridiculous - simply create a very short segment that no one has any reason to ride at full gas. For example, choose a two hundred meter section within an existing long segment. Ride the full segment at a snail’s pace, until you reach your micro-segment, and then sprint like a lunatic.
Unlikely - create a long segment that includes a couple of changes in direction and preferably a u-turn to double back on yourself. If you do this well, it’s almost guaranteed that no one else has ever ridden the segment.
Obscure - All you need to do is check Segment Explore whenever you go on holiday with your bike. The UK, Alps, and Mallorca may be rammed with segments, but a huge amount of Europe contains no segments and is frequented by very few riders. Create a segment in rural France and, as long as it’s not a categorised climb, you’ve got a great chance of at least a cup.
Pros: You’ve legitimately ridden the segment and don’t need masses of talent or training.
Cons: Creating segments does kind of tell the world you’re desperate to add bling to your profile by any means possible.
Most obscure segments exist because someone else created them with the goal of becoming the K/QOM. If you can find these segments, you have a great opportunity to at least gain a cup. You might be thinking, that’s all well and good if you live in the middle of nowhere. Fear not, scan Segment Explore in the area where you’re planning to ride, and you will find something. Here’s some great example from cycling Meccas where I (too old and too unfit) have managed to get cups or top results:
The Alps - last summer I rode a categorised climb within plain sight of the popular resort of Les Gets. Only twenty-eight other people had ridden it - unbelievable!
Inland Mallorca - another categorised climb that was a rough country lane that leads to nothing but a footpath. Less than 200 people have ever recorded this segment and that’s on a small island that welcomes hundreds of thousands of cyclist each year and is populated by countless pro’s.
Northern Mallorca - this spring just gone, whilst staying in Port de Pollenca, I bagged two cups. The first was a ridiculous segment (sprint along a lane back to the villa) and the second was an unlikely segment, which involved a long out and back that I just happened to ride. Less than one hundred people have ever ridden the segment, whilst over 150,000 thousand have ridden it in one direction or the other.
Pros: You’ve legitimately ridden the segment, without masses of talent or training and without resorting to creating your own segments.
Cons: You can’t tell anyone else because they’ll go and smash your time.
There you have it - four ways to add glitz to your Strava profile. If you’ve got any other ways or have a Strava K/QOM story, we’d love to hear - just pop it in the comments section below or visit our facebook page.
Until next time, happy K/QOM hunting.
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Photo Credit: @japhethmast