Too Many Kudos

Strava – for anyone who has been in a coma – is a web based app enabling you to record and upload rides from a Garmin or smart-phone, using GPS co-ordinates, thus allowing you to compare and compete against other riders. You can create ‘segments’ – specific routes or sections of road (eg hills) and if you ride it quicker you get a personal best. The fastest person gets KOM or QOM recognition and if you pay a premium subscription you can get age break-downs and other benefits. Being internet based (and the internet is a social medium) you can comment on other people’s rides or give kudos. And thereby hangs a sting in the tail. Kudos is defined as ‘honour, glory, acclaim,’ ‘praise and honour received for an achievement.’ Having given kudos you want it reciprocated and having received it you are honour bound to give kudos in return. But when everything’s an achievement, nothing’s an achievement.
  • I did half an hour on the turbo – kudos.
  • I completed a club run – kudos.
  • I managed 11.5 mph – kudos.
  • I walked to Coney Hall.
  • I rode to work – kudos.
  • I rode home from work – kudos.
  • I bimbled to ‘Box Hill – kudos.
  • I pootled to Pratts Bottom – kudos.
In the same way that all soldiers and policemen are now ‘heroes’, every pedestrian cycle ride, every easy recovery spin, every spin class at David Lloyd is now garlanded with kudos – praising with faint damnation. And the true achievements – Sonny’s ride up Yorks Hill, Northern Jon’s Cingle de Ventoux – are levelled down – kudos mate, chapeau. They gave me kudos; I must give kudos back. But if I don’t return the kudos, if I say ‘no, this isn’t what kudos should be’ will I be cast out of the Strava community, a segment pariah? And I am so the guilty one. I finish a ride, get home, put the bike away, sit at the computer in my damp shorts, plug in my Garmin and wait for the data transfer. Agonisingly, I watch the cups emerge – a PB, a second, a third. I click on the leader board to check my age group, my clubs – Old Portlians, the others (not telling) and then wait for the kudos and the comments, basking like a shark in the warm glow of recognition. My best time this year, all time, in the club (never), in my age group (sometimes). But wait… Why did he get kudos from 9 people but I only got 8? Why did she give kudos to him but not me? Why did they comment on her ride but not mine? Why didn’t he give kudos to me when I gave it to him? I have kudos envy. The resentment overwhelms me. I formulate a plan. I will create a segment in a land not yet discovered, that no-one else knows and will never find and I will ride it 3 times and be the best for evermore, my own private Idaho, where my Strava followers will never follow and I will reap all the kudos, all the plaudits from unknown lonely people in South Australia and Singapore and Montana and all the comments will be just for me and my hollow achievement. It’s on Strava, it must be true. ***

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