After an Oakland bicyclist, Kim Flint, was killed last month while racing downhill in Berkeley’s Tilden Park, some of Flint’s fellow cyclists speculated publicly about the risk-encouraging influence of computer social networks—specifically Strava, which had counted Flint among its members.
The Berkeleyside blog reported earlier this week:
While some cyclists say Flint’s death was just an accident that could happen to anyone, others believe his involvement with an online social network called Strava was a major cause. Strava, a Palo Alto company founded in April 2009, lets bicyclists upload ride data gathered from GPS units onto a central website. Riders can then see how far they traveled, how high they climbed, and how fast they went. They can also look at the times of other bikers so to “compare and compete with friends and rivals,” according to the company’s website.
The Berkeleyside post added that Flint “had briefly held a ‘KOM’ or ‘King of the Mountain’ designation for this steep stretch of road and was trying to get it back, according to those who knew him.”
The account of the tragedy sparked my own curiosity about Strava. The name was unfamiliar, and the Strava website provides no explanation. The word reminded me of strada, Italian for “road.”
A red herring, as it turned out.
I found my answer on the translation site Bab.la. The word means “aim” or “strive” (noun and verb) in Swedish; the correct spelling is, in fact, sträva. I later confirmed the name history in an email exchange with Davis Kitchel of Strava.
Still a mystery: why Strava didn’t retain the umlaut. As everyone knows (because The Onion told us so), nothing says “bad-assed and scary in a heavy-metal manner” like an umlaut or two. (Hat tip: Mr. Verb.)
UPDATE: Reader Mima Dedaic shares this in an email: “Strava means 'terror' in my native Croatian, and perhaps in other Slavic languages. It seems closer to the intended meaning.”