Introduction

This blog is all about building a web application and the experience I had with building my own app: Solo Challenger.

Solo Challenger is an application that works with Strava which, in case you haven't heard of it, is an application used by people to track their fitness activities using GPS.  

I first started using Strava in 2012 to track my cycling and was pretty much in love with it straight away.  Not only did it record where I had been on my rides and show me on a map, it also told me the distance, average speed, max speed and amount of climbing I had done amongst many, many other features.

For me, however, there is something lacking with Strava which is that it's not really very good for looking at stats over any period of time: the 'My Activities' page only shows 20 activities at a time, doesn't contain much detail and is hard to navigate and the 'Training Log' and 'Training Callendar' are quite similar.   


Strava 'My Activities' Page
The Strava 'My Activities' page

Being something of a numbers nerd, I used to enter the details of each activity into a spreadsheet so that I could do calculations, apply filters and draw graphs. It was laborious and clunky, but it gave me some degree of pleasure!


My Strava Data spreadsheet

My Strava Data spreadsheet Graph showing Dist and Time by Month

Around 2015-2016 I started teaching myself web developing and was messing around building photo albums and the like, but what I really found exciting was the potential of working with lots of data with Javascript.  Enter the Strava API.

At that time I didn't even know what an API is, here's dictionary.com's definition:

API
noun
COMPUTING
  1. a set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.




Does that make it any clearer? Well, in the Strava API example, it allows developers to access data from Strava so that they can build their own application with it.  I had been using Strava for about 4 years by this point so I knew I had lots of data to play with, so I set about learning how to use the API and build something that would do something similar to what I was doing with my spreadsheets.

Solo Challenger is therefore the result of something I did as a hobby - mixing my passions of cycling, maths and computing, something that would help me learn more about web developing and something which might just be useful and/or fun to me and other cyclists, runners, skiers, swimmers, etc.

In this blog I aim to explain how to get started on a Strava API application, the challenges I encounterd and how I got over them and some of the maths behind my application.



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