January 14, 1820: Baron Nicolas de Strava completes a single lap of the Jardin du Luxembourg on a solid gold velocipede. His exhausted footman, instructed to run behind his employer bearing a pocket watch placed upon on a velvet cushion, etches the baron’s time of 5hr 14 min, along with a rudimentary sketch of the route, into a nearby pear tree. Soon, every French nobleman is engraving their “Stravas” in the grounds of their palaces. A phenomenon is born.
December 31, 1999: With participation in time trials dwindling and a new century about to begin, a secret convocation of pointy-hatters takes place in Aigle, Switzerland to discuss how more cyclists can be recruited to the clandestine discipline of the tri-spoke. America’s representative, a certain Roger d’Strava, inspires the assembled throng by telling the story of his great-great-great grandfather’s historic act of penis-waving. What if, he posits, we could adapt rudimentary bike computers so that every ride becomes a time trial? Suddenly, the atmosphere in the room is electric. The future has arrived.
Today: It would take many years of technological advancement, but d’Strava’s giddy vision has finally been fulfilled, and it is a testament to the universal popularity of Strava that none of us tire of hearing its users recounting their King of the Hill exploits on Twitter, Facebook and down the pub. Non-cyclists have even replicated the thrill of Strava by downloading racing games onto their phones and playing them outside, often in the pissing rain, for up to five hours at a time while sporadically shouting their high scores at passing strangers. Truly, we live in the age of Strava.