Cycling Challenges don't include indoor data

Hey, Strava. I was going to sign up for your Gran Fondo challenge for January. Was really looking forward to it. Operative word here is "WAS". turns out that trainer miles don't count towards that challenge. Seriously?!?! So I guess those of us who live in a cold weather winter climate - like Minnesota - are just sh*t out of luck when it comes to cycling challenges I guess. Thanks, Strava. Frankly, that's pretty crappy and pretty short sighted on your part. Why don't you do the same thing for running challenges....treadmill miles need not apply. Sometimes, Strava, you can do some cool stuff...sometimes you can really suck.



  • Official comment

    Hello everyone, 

    We are exploring the option to include indoor activities for select Strava Challenges this winter. Do you have a preference between challenges that only include indoor data, challenges that include both indoor and outdoor data, or a challenge leaderboard filter to filter between indoor vs. outdoor results? 

  • The issue I have with virtual/trainer/indoor cycling and Strava is…it isn’t riding.  Its exercising.  While you may be siting on your bike in your garage staring at a screen or on an exercise cycle at the gym…are you riding?  No.  No balance.  No wind, no elevation, no mental game, no cars, no road conditions.  While I certainly understand the importance and use of indoor trainers for building/maintaining fitness (and I have done this in the past) including equivalent miles/elevation gained…you didn’t actually go anywhere or climb anything…you worked out.  I get how Zwift and other application calculate all of this but its not real…even if the power exerted etc. is similar.  Can I start getting more elevation on my rides in the real world if I push more power up them because I don’t live where we have big climbs?  I would like Strava to keep the virtual rides separate and out of the LBs, clubs, and badges…make separate ones for the virtual rides.  Life isn’t always fair.  Its winter somewhere when its summer for you.  Not everyone lives where its hilly.  You won’t compete in the mileage challenges if you ride a mountainbike.  Not everyone gets a trophy.  Even if all of the trainer guys come out of winter can kill me on the bike (which they will)….they didn’t ride…they worked out and good for them!  Just keep it separate on the Strava.

  • What about when we use rollers,  That includes balance and your riding, I could say the same thing about riding outside, elevation works both ways, when you go up you get to come down, on a trainer or rollers you have to work 100% of the time,  crazy to omit it, especially now when I have 3 feet of snow outside, I rode when we had a foot but now its impossible until we get it packed

  • Again, I think they should just set up separate trainer/virtual/whatever challenges to handle all the folks that are frustrated with this.  Keep it separate.  My issue is how to compare the do you compare a 1000' climb in the real world with a trainer session?  Mileage?  Its all just calc'd vs. actually have the data to support that you 1) went somewhere and 2) climbed something

  • Emmett. Some of the climbs on Zwift with a smart trainer can be harder than some of the rides I do outdoors! 250W is still 250W regardless of if its indoors on a turbo trainer or outdoors or on the flat or uphill.

    If I do a ride outdoors, it doesn't necessarily mean it has a higher training load or harder intensity than a virtual ride. Is an easy  outdoors ride any more worthy of a badge than a very hard z4 / z5  ride that was indoors?

  • Absolute nonsense! It’s not riding is an absolutely idiotic and ill informed statement. Heart rate and power meter data are the bottom line. More often than not ‘riding’ indoors on the rollers, turbo or smart trainer is far tougher than outdoors. No mini rests with traffic lights and traffic. No wind to deal with? So what just increase your target power or increase resistance. Indoor training should definitely count towards Strava challenges

  • Any news on this topic? Why don't you let each club decide individually how indoor trainings should be treated? Or is this the way it works?

    I understand both sides, but I think it also depends on the kind of club. A triathlon club focuses on the overall training time. The times for Run, Swim and Bike are all added up. I don't see why indoor training time should't count as well. Make it a separate category and let each club decide how to add them up. 

  • Graham, what these critics fail to mention is, their argument about wind works both ways... when they're cycling outdoors with a tail wind. Sometimes a cyclists power output drops significantly, they think they're going fast, but thanks to the tail wind, there's not much effort involved at all. With an indoor trainer you don't get this respite . It's also why I recommend cycling with a powermeter to gauge your real effort / how good your training is despite the gradients, drafting or wind.

  • Glad everyone is remaining civil here....


    The training end of this argument wants to turn output metrics into an equivalent of miles/time outside.  My end is that the point of the challenge is to actually ride your bike, regardless of the power output etc.  To your end, I get it...I just don't want it mixed with the challenges that have the intent of getting folks outside riding (I will argue to the end that "riding" = "being on bicycle outside and moving distance and the real world".  Someone mentioned that "junk miles" shouldn't count as much as "hard training miles" if I go on my mtb, and only get 8 miles and 500' elevation for a ride but my power output etc. on that ride can be mathematically equated to more miles/elevation because I went "hard as @#$#", should that count?  That is what you guys are saying....turn every ride into numbers that then get spit out of an equation to get miles/elevation regardless.  It's just nuts to me but again, I get your training thing and Strava can just make challenges where the virtual/trainer rides count...fixed!

  • I guess the difference between me and the training crowd is that riding bikes to me is more than heart rate and power output.  It's about getting outside (even in the winter!), shredding on my mtb with my friends, getting a great road ride, hitting some gravel roads, or doing a CX race.  I got rid of my trainer last year b/c to be honest, I'll just spend the money on some winter clothes and ride.

  • My original reply was when the weather is too bad to ride, Do you ride in 3 feet of snow? How great it would be to be outside riding, but sometimes it's not possible, I have rollers with a fan (for resistance) so it can be as hard or as easy as you want, since those miles don't count I have over 2000 miles of mostly mountain bike rides, so should that count more than road miles? I use strava for total miles because I am a type 1 diabetic, so time on any bike counts for me, discount 1 form over another is just wrong, it should all count, it's not like I am taking your KOMs away on my trainer, and truth be known I am the guy out side in the sub zero temps riding my fat bike, only on the trainer when forced

  • My response is...too bad.  Life isn't always fair.  We don't' always get trophy's.  I live wear its relatively flat and I usually ride a can I compete in the distance and climbing challenges?  Should Strava somehow compensate me for this by converting my power data (if I had it) to feet climbed or my offroad time to "equivalent road miles"?  Of course not.  It is what it is.

  • To Elle Anderson - my preference is keep them separate but the filtering works too...just some way to differentiate.

  • To Emmett, so by your own standard your mountain biking miles shouldn't count because there is NO elevation in VA, it also makes your comments about winter riding irrelevant, the coldest you see is like 30, here in NH it gets like 30 below and we still ride. Couple that with snow and you can see how much more effort it takes to ride.... so. I was thinking the 100 or so miles I do on the trainer SHOULD count, that's the only time it's similar to riding in VA

  • When I do indoor turbo trainer rides I don't even hide the fact. The activity is labelled as being on Zwift, so its blatantly obvious what's indoors and what's outdoors. I still stand by my comment that I can have a harder workout indoors than outdoors. Emmett there's a huge difference between the high power output required to cycle uphill and the moderate power output to cruise along the flat, especially with a tailwind. It's not until you cycle outdoors with a powermeter you really see this difference.

  • Also it seems Emmett is the only one against it, that's only 1 against everyone else is ok with it

  • Elle,

    I have no preference how it's done as long as there is some monthly challenge for indoor trainers. The amount of people who use indoor trainers over winter will justify this, on Zwift some segments have 3,650,000 attempts by 132,300 people.

  • Challenges for indoor cycling should be separate because the distances shown by that trainers have to little similarity with real distances.

  • Keep them separate from outdoor, at the end of the day you haven't actually gone anywhere.

  • For what it's worth I'm with Emmett F. Benjamin C there is no argument with training load or intensity but the challenges are clearly labelled Distance challenge and Climbing challenge not Power or Watt challenge, also as you correctly point out there are thousands on Zwift plenty enough to play in the shed and have a worthwhile challenge amongst yourselves, personally I like to play in the road. Also Brian Weedon weather is not an excuse, I take it your country grinds to a halt when it snows, no one goes to work and you all sit indoors ? If a car can move a bike can move if not your feet will always work, there is the run climbing challenge and distance challenge if you think your good enough. As for Emmett being the only one against well funnily one more makes it even. Dieter M read the title properly :-) says challenges not clubs.

  • Yeah, we have lots of days when cars cannot move, if it drops 2 feet of snow during a blizzard most people wait it out inside. Have you ever tried to ride in say 8 inches of fresh powder? Not easy my friend. We usually wait until the snowmobiles go out and pack the trail a bit or we drag the single track using a old tire and a rope to pack the snow enough so we can ride

  • Martin R... yes at the end of the day you haven't actually gone anywhere. But my point is, it's the physical effort that matters. Spending a long time on a turbo trainer in one go, would be a challenge.

  • Wow...things are getting real around here!  Nicely said Martin R.; the challenges are not wattage/power challenges...they are distance/elevation meaning you have to move from point a to point b and up/down relative to msl.  I hope Strava makes some wattage/power/training/virtual/whatever challenges for folks, I get it and it sounds like they will.

    Brian W.  When I ride my mtb, the miles/elevation count b/c I rode my bike, I'm not sure what you are getting at.  There is elevation here for sure!  And if there wasn't b/c I lived on the coast, and I got a big fat "0" each ride for feet of elevation gained, well, I didn't climb anything and I won't do well in the elevation challenges...I certainly won't cry about it and ask for conversions etc. to be more fair.  I get our winters here aren't super cold...and they are super cold for you and that is why folks use trainers won't be able to compete in the challenges that time of isn't always fair...I have said that already.  I sincerely hope you guys get Strava to create indoor/wattage/power challenges to sort out this issue.


  • All I care about is mileage, I never do challenges (well I have done a couple) I just keep track of mileage for my diabetes management

  • Dear Strava,

    Please just give me separate badges to strive for this winter for my Zwift rides.  It would motivate me that much more.



  • Separate challenges is the way to go. It's clearly a win-win.

  • Is everyone just missing the point here? A challenge is just that, if you do it on an indoor trainer or outside it's just a way to stay motivated and be active. At the end of the day the prize is a logo on your profile - if it has personal value to you by achieving it, what does it matter how you achieved it? 


  • Emmet, why do you care so much if Zwift users get a (virtual) Strava badge? It doesn't make your own experiences any less valuable, does it? The only value that badge has is whatever it's worth to the individual user.

    I can understand Zwift users wanting to get that badge, I have trouble understanding you not wanting them to get one.

  • I have stated it multiple times - if Strava makes a badge for ZWIFT challenges, great!  I think they should be separate from those challenges where folks go outside and actually ride their bikes.

  • If you guys desperately need to include virtual rides here is a hack that works well.

    1. Use GPS computer to record your ride. Do not use Zwift or Tacx or other software to upload the ride to Strava. Recording can be done in indoor or outdoor mode.

    2. Store the file from the GPS computer in your mobile phone or email it to your PC.

    3. Use online tools such as Fit File Tools to remove GPS location data, if you wish so.

    4. Upload the file to Strava manually, select Sport: Ride, deselect Stationary Trainer tag.

    The activity will be treated as a standard outdoor activity. This hack is only for people desperately chasing some challenge. Keep in mind that virtual trainers may allow you to create unfair advantages. For example, if I set my Tacx Neo to 100W-150W resistance in workout mode, I am able to ride at 55 km/h for several hours because Tacx metrics is different to the real world metrics in my GPS computer.

    Note: Strava has got a nasty bug when you set the activity back to Virtual ride and try to set Workout as your ride type. You get "strava.activities.workouts.undefined" error. However, that is nothing compared to persistent KOM bugs and dirty leaderboards we face every day. :)

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