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How To Find Routes in Strava

Posted by Jamie on July 12, 2019

Strava is mainly about the data and competition but there is a very useful route creation system in the app too. It’s a neat feature that lets you create a new route from your phone or PC, edit it for mileage, climbs and popularity and then download via a GPX file to your cycle computer. You can use it directly from Strava on your phone to navigate too. This tutorial is going to walk you through finding and creating routes in Strava.

The route building feature isn’t front and center in Strava. In fact you will hardly see it mentioned at all. Yet it’s a very convenient way to find routes to run or ride without having to risk hitting a 20% climb or accidentally riding on a highway without realizing.

Finding routes in Strava

Routes are Strava’s term for rides you have created in the app or on the website in advance. You can also share routes with friends. The entire route navigation is difficult to find and not very well explained but I’ll try to make it clearer here.

If you have used Garmin, you will likely know that you can build routes and then share them publicly. You can log onto the website, select an area and look at all the routes people have created, filter by length, time, climbs or something else, save a copy and edit it before downloading to the mobile app or your Garmin cycling computer. Strava has none of that.

You can create your own routes and share them between friends and you can create your own. There is also a global heatmap you can use to create routes but that’s about it.

Sharing routes in Strava

If you’re friends with others on Strava, you can share any routes you have created between you. The person with the route must manually share it from the My Routes section of the website or Routes section of the app. There is the option to share beside the route name in the list of routes.

Once a route has been shared, the recipients all have to select the gray star beside it to ‘accept’ it. The route will now appear in your My Routes section and you can edit, track or rename it as you see fit. It’s a clunky way of doing things but it does work.

Creating a route in Strava

I get that Strava is a data tracking app and not a navigation app but the map and tools are so good that they really should be easier to find. I use both Garmin and Strava and while some aspects of Garmin are much better, the map and the speed of route creation is superior in Strava. Yet the entire process of creating a route is much more difficult.

If you want to create a new route in Strava, this is how you do it.

  1. Navigate to the New Routes page on Strava.
  2. Turn off Manual Mode in the top menu.
  3. Select the gear icon on the left to show the menu and turn Global Heatmap on.
  4. Move the map to your desired start point.
  5. Click a point on the map to create the first part of your route.
  6. Continue adding points where you want to until you have a complete route.
  7. Select the orange Save button in the top right.
  8. Download as a GPX file or use on your phone.

Mileage, elevation and estimated time will be shown in the gray bar at the bottom of the page. You can adjust your route on the fly to meet a specific target or avoid hills.

You can build your route using the most popular routes, places of interest or segments until you have a ride ready. By selecting Global Heatmap in Step 3, you load the map with popular segments recorded by other users. You will see red lines appear on the map when you do this, the red signifies popularity. The darker the red and thicker the line, the more Strava users use that route.

If you’re looking for a good route, using the heatmap and following popular segments means you get the best areas to ride. Conversely, if you want to go off piste and explore, purposely avoiding those red lines means you’re going to go the route less traveled.

Once you save a route, you will need to give it a name and it will then appear in your My Routes section of the website or app. You can download it from the web as a GPX file for your cycling computer or use it directly from within Strava.

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