How to Steal Free Routes From Strava
While looking into the best free route-building tools for cyclists and runners, I couldn’t help but lament the fate of Strava’s Route Builder. Long a favorite feature of the social app, the route builder gave runners and cyclists ability to create and customize routes before setting out. Tragically, this feature moved behind a paywall a few years ago. And now, even once-trusted hacks to thwart the paid subscription no longer work. It’s a tale as old as time: The app wants money.
If you’re a paid subscriber (or you remember the Before Times), you know how nice it is to have dowloaded a preplanned route you can follow on your phone as you complete your activity. I would spend hours messing around on route builders, and the option is a lifesaver when you’re exploring a new area on bike.
If you want to simultaneously follow a route and record your ride without paying for the privilege, your best bet is to make strategic use of Strava’s free trial period. Here’s what you need to know.
Download all you can during the free trial
If you’re using your current free version of Strava, every time you click on a map you’ll see the options to “save route” or “try this route.” These buttons send you straight to the sign-up for their paid subscription. At $5.00 per month, it’s not the end of the world. But why not exploit the 30-day free trial period for all it’s worth?
Because yes, you can use the route builder feature during your free trial—but your preplanned routes will not disappear if/when you cancel your subscription.
The main drawback to this method is, of course, that you need to anticipate all the routes you may want or need long after your 30 days have elapsed. This might mean exploring future vacation destinations and plotting routes there, or maybe creating varied distances to account for anticipated changes in your training plan.
Using the route builder
Strava’s route builder is straightforward, although it notably works best via desktop rather than on mobile. Pick a place on a map and create new routes from scratch, use existing ones from your Strava friends, or use Strava’s heat map for inspiration.
Note: You will not immediately see your routes in your Strava app. To get them to appear, you’ll first need to hit “Record,” and before you begin running or biking, click on the option to “Load Route.” Select your route of choice, then follow along the predesigned path as you complete your activity.
As someone who at one point upgraded to a paid Strava subscription and then downgraded again to the free version, I find the route builder is the perk I miss the most. It might be worth the subscription for you on its own. But if you’re trimming your monthly subscription budget, a well-used free trial could take you a long way.