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The Best Photos of the Year


Strava is the social network for athletes. What makes our community shine is you – the athlete striving to be your best, the athlete who shares experiences and activities with your fellow athletes. Every day, we inspire each other.

In 2016, we published 29 Stories and look forward to bringing you even more inspiration in 2017. For now, it’s time to take a look back at our favorite photos from a remarkable year.


No one has ever attempted to ride a bike up Mt. Washington in the winter. Because how could they? And why would they? Even though it’s only 6,288 feet high, winds there have been recorded screaming at up to 231 miles per hour – the fastest windspeed ever measured outside of tropical cyclones. Temperatures in winter are equally frightening. Severe weather has claimed more than 130 lives on Mt. Washington in the last century, and you can hardly blame the state of New Hampshire for closing the mountain for cyclists for all but two days a year, both during the summer. It’s just not a safe place to ride… aka the perfect setting for a Red Bull adventure with Tim Johnson.

Photos by Brian Nevins / Red Bull Content Pool


In an epoch when the fever for competitive cycling and adventure riding have converged in the form of gravel racing, Strade Bianche resonates deeply with its signature white gravel roads paired with traditional tarmac racing. The route traverses ancient towns and ends in a devastating 18% climb to the finish that provides a visual spectacle beyond compare. The giants of the peloton come out and swing hard at Strade Bianche, fighting for the win in front of the cycling-mad tifosi, who pack the final kilometer and the spectacular finish chute in Siena’s town square. It is a race fit for royalty - in exhilarating finishes, Fabian Cancellara and Lizzie Armitstead both proved why they're just that.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


In a hotel parking lot in the Milano suburbs, Cannondale DS Fabrizio Guidi spoke to his young team before they headed out for one more training ride.

“Tomorrow is the first Monument of the season – it’s a race that can change your life.” He paused for a long moment, looked around at his charges: “Think about that as you start to prepare yourself for tomorrow.”

A little more than 24 hours later, it wasn’t a Cannondale rider who crossed the line first, but another young rider with mountains of talent, Arnaud Demare. It’s a pretty safe assumption that result will change Arnaud Demare’s life.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


The day before the 2016 Dwars door Vlaanderen launched a week of racing that also included E3 Prijs Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, three bombs rocked Brussels, Belgium killing 35 and injuring more than 300. Belgium suffered through a terrible week. The world suffered with her. And the tragedy didn’t stop there.

Five days later at Gent-Wevelgem, young Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider Antoine Demoitié died in a crash. Less than 24 hours later, another young Belgian, Daan Myngheer, died following a heart attack the week prior at Criterium International.

Nothing can make up for these losses. But even when tragedy strikes and highlights the fragility of life, sport serves as a way to unite us all in our celebration of the greatest aspects of the human spirit – to overcome, to keep going against the greatest of odds, and to always strive.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


The rainbow jersey weighs heavily on every World Champion’s shoulders. For many, it’s a year-long curse of bad luck and no wins. But at the Tour of Flanders, two World Champions scored two victories. For both Peter Sagan and Lizzie Armitstead, it was a day to remember.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


In cycling, winning is never a foregone conclusion. Anything can happen and often does. Mathew Hayman’s victory on the Roubaix Velodrome out of a five-rider break that contained the legends of the Northern classics was shocking. And it demonstrated the beauty of cycling. The break contained Boonen, Boasson Hagen, Stannard, Vanmarcke – and Hayman. Hayman had been in the break all day, and when the final group came together, he was the extra, the guy you think is just happy to be there and collect a great result, just hanging on for dear life. But surely, Hayman wouldn’t win. Right?

And then he did. It was an improbable, but absolutely spectacular ride for the soon to be 38-year-old Australian who broke his elbow at the end of February at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In his fifteenth try, he won the the Hell of the North. Miracles happen.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


All challenges are relative. For some athletes, competing a 10k is a daunting undertaking. For others, like former adventure racer and HURT 100 champion, Gary Robbins, a challenge is a race so hard that he doesn’t know if he can finish it. “I came from an expedition racing background into ultrarunning. What I found in ultrarunning was there was no doubt whether I could finish the race. The only question was whether I could finish with the fastest time.” But in the Barkley Marathons, he found a challenge unlike any he’d tackled before.

The Barkley is a lot more than a marathon(s). It’s a race comprised of five unmarked, mostly off-trail, 20(ish)-mile loops in rural Tennessee. Participants hike, run, bushwhack and navigate day-and-night in search of books hidden at checkpoints along the route. They have 60 hours to complete the race that easily tallies more than 100 total miles and 66,500 feet of total elevation gain. But what really sets Barkley apart is the unique mental geography athletes must navigate to complete the race. It’s a test so severe that in 30 years, only 14 runners have completed the full five loops under the time limit. Verging on the impossible, it’s as much a mental, spiritual, and mystical experience as it is a physical trial.

Photos by Matt Trappe


Every spring in New York, one of the hottest running races in the world blooms in an asphalt lot at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York. That’s where the now world-famous Red Hook Criterium bike race happens at night once a year. During the day, a 5K running race takes place on the same course. Run at dusk, the race features a unique five-lap course with 40 total turns, 15,000 rowdy spectators, and separate heats for men and women. It’s a competitive and memorable experience for everyone.

“Fast, crazy and intense is how I’d describe the Red Hook Crit 5K,” says Jerry Faulkner, who placed 10th overall, representing the New York Athletic Club. “The course has turns, and you’re chasing a guy on a motorcycle. Everyone is yelling from the sidelines. It’s chaos.”

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


“This is the hardest fixed-gear race, no doubt. It’s like the Tour de France of fixed-gear racing, the pinnacle. Red Hook allows for the Rocky Balboa story, where you have elite guys who really are established and newcomers who get to take a shot at it.” - Neil Bezdek, two-time Red Hook Brooklyn winner.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


In Grand Tours, time trials play a huge role in the GC battle, and the sprinters always find their moments to shine. But it’s during the dogfights in the mountains that the terrain itself stamps its character and authority on the race. It’s on these climbs where riders can carve their names into history with standout performances. And so it was at the 2016 Giro.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


At the end of last winter, after years living at the base of the Mont Blanc, Kílian Jornet filled his van with boxes, skis and shoes, and hit the road. He drove for more than 24 hours towards a white, vertical land, a mix of wild mountains and seas. The 28-year-old Catalan native landed next to calm water, five hours from Olso by car, deep in a maze of fjords. At the beginning of May, Kílian provided us a glimpse behind the scenes of an ordinary training day—for an extraordinary athlete.

Photos by Alexis Berg


Cory Richards and Adrian Ballinger set out to climb Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen knowing they faced daunting odds. Less than 200 people have ever reached the summit of Everest without O’s.

“Climbing at altitude without supplemental oxygen is like having the worst hangover you can imagine and then still having to get up and function. Whether it’s three hours to melt snow or getting out of the tent to go climbing, you have to push through these moments of feeling really hungover. When we set out to do this, I knew we would likely fail. There was a less than one in 10 chance we would make it,” says Ballinger. And at the end of the day, you still have to remember to upload your activity.

Photos by Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards


Women’s pro cycling took a leap forward in 2016 with the introduction of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. This collection of 17 races that kicked off with the Strade Bianche represents the absolute pinnacle of competition for women’s pro cycling. Strava has supported the competition for the orange polka dot QOM jersey at the Women’s Tour since its inception in 2014. These athletes embody what it means to strive, racing through the heart of the cycling-crazed UK in front of crowds that rival a men’s UCI event. The spirited atmosphere and challenging route have made the Women’s Tour a favorite for the racers, too.

“I think it’s now my favourite race of the year, I’ve done it for three years and it’s great to see the popularity of it increasing. The crowds were amazing, which definitely helped. I’ve never had to sign my signature as much as I have during this tour.” - Strava QOM winner, Katie Hall.

Photos by George Marshall


During the rise of triathlon in the early 1990s, France became a hotbed of professional triathlon and played an important role in the sport’s development. Today, Nice provides a stunning and historic backdrop for one of the toughest Ironman races on the global circuit. Race day begins in the Mediterranean, moves onto a climber’s bike course and finishes with a boiling-hot run. Beauty, intensity and history combine to make an unforgettable life experience for the athletes who toe the line.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


The air is unexpectedly crisp and humid for the beginning of May when we arrive in a village close to Mélisey Peeking at the map, you’ll see a region flecked with stretches of water facing the Vosges Massif. We are in the heart of the Thousand Ponds Plateau, in Franche-Comté, a name that sounds like an adventure video game. We’re in the middle of Thibaut Pinot's training playground, a region where he was born 26 years ago and from which he never really leaves for too long. Thibaut greets us in front of the house he just built, not far from his parents’ place. He is relaxed, wearing sweatpants and sneakers when we begin our rendezvous...

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


At 5 a.m. on the last Saturday in June, Paul Lind fires a shotgun into the air, signaling the start of the 43rd Western States Endurance Run. Paul’s father, Bob Lind, fired every previous shot that started Western States. From the moment the gun goes off, the energy is non-stop for 100.2 miles. From Squaw Valley to Auburn, there is a community that inspires greatness.

The official profile for the run measures it at 100.2 miles with 18,090 feet of elevation gain and 22,970 feet of descent. While some claim the net elevation loss makes the course easier, the long downhill stretches can feel like hammers to the quads for tired runners late in the race. And fatigue is only one of many aspects that can come into play when a race gets this long.

Photos by Matt Trappe and Kyle McCall


There are so many big races on the cycling calendar each year - so many important races, with long histories, with huge turnouts, and fans who never rest. That’s all well and good - and those races are great - but nothing compares to the Tour. Nothing. It takes everything about all the other races have and multiplies it by two: the fans, the police, the emotion, the spectacle.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


The sheer vertical challenge of the Grossglockner Berglauf humbles the swiftest runners, with 1,494 meters of elevation gain in 12.67km, including a merciless final climb of 900 meters to the finish line. Each year, only a thousand runners get the chance to test themselves on the punishing but stunning course. We followed Florian Neuschwander (aka: Run with the FLOw) as he stepped way outside his comfort zone of track and road racing and into the Alps.

Photos by Antton Miettinen


Joe Dombrowski finds himself in Vail, eating a steak. Killing time. The Leadville 100 is two days away at this point. He’s between the Tour of Utah (finishing in 8th place) and the Vuelta a España. Inside this little window, Joe has added Leadville. The 100-miler is raced above 10,000 feet, climbs more than 10,000 feet, and awards shiny belt buckles to finishers. “Leadville” is all one needs to say about it to most competitive cyclists.

Photos by Kevin Scott Batchelor, Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


The Transcontinental (TCR) is a nonstop race across continental Europe from Belgium to Turkey. Racer/photographer George Marshall took on the TCR to see if he could make it to Asia. This is his adventure.

“My race partner scratched after three days. My Garmin crashed on day four. My sunglasses were blown off my face and flew off a cliff in a gale on the Croatian coast. I went through two front tyres. I destroyed my phone climbing the Grindelwald. My phone network cancelled my replacement phone when I was searching for a hotel in Kosovo. I got lost in the alps and had to walk 5km down a steep hiking path in pitch black. I had six flats. I tore my glute sprinting from stray dogs. I fell asleep on the bike twice. It’s an ordeal, not a bike race. You’re rolling with the punches.”

Photos by George Marshall


At the end of August thousands of ultrarunners from around the world descend on Chamonix for Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, a test in the Alps. During the course of a week, runners have the opportunity to contest five races that circumnavigate Mont Blanc and touch on three countries. The races range from 55 to 300 km in length with very little flat terrain to be found anywhere and views that take away what little breath runners might have left when they’re in the race.

Photos by Alexis Berg


The streets of Berlin proved they are among the fastest in the world when Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele ran the second-fastest marathon ever. Bekele, the current 5,000 and 10,000 meter world record holder, was a mere 6 seconds shy of the marathon WR when he crossed the line for his first marathon victory.

A remarkable race day started with the familiar sound of thousands of GPS watches searching for signal and for one runner, with a good luck kiss.

Photos by Alexis Berg


Strava athletes ride for sport, but they also ride to get around town. In dense urban areas like San Francisco and London, commutes account for upwards of 50% of Strava cycling activities during weekdays. Bikes make life better and more fun and give riders a sense of freedom and empowerment that’s unmatched. Bikes help us see and experience cities in new ways. That’s why Ed Shires and Chris Altchek from the Foundation Cycling Team and Natalie Tapias and Jamie Soper from the Velo Classics p/b Stan’s NoTubes elite team love riding in New York City – to train and to commute. Take a look at how these four New Yorkers experience their city by bike, as both athletes and commuters.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


“Fell running is basically a mountain race - taking the quickest route possible to the summit and back through a number of checkpoints,” says Cumbrian native and fell running great, Ricky Lightfoot. ”Sometimes there’s a path, sometimes there isn’t. You might need to use navigation to find your way between points. For every race, you need to take a map and a compass and usually full body cover (pants, jacket, gloves, hat) - even in summer. If you don’t - and they sometimes do a random kit check - you’ll be disqualified.”

In 2017, Lightfoot aims to set a record on the Lake District’s biggest, most historic fell running challenge: the Bob Graham Round.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber


American pro cyclocross racer and Strava employee Elle Anderson left Belgium after her 2014-15 cyclocross season drained and disillusioned. A hostile host family situation and team drama sapped her drive and left her unsure if she'd ever return. But now she's back, on her own terms with her own program for the 2016-17 season, determined to keep pushing herself against the best talent on the most iconic courses in the sport.

"I love what cyclocross means to this part of the world... to have the chance to be on TV and race in front of 20-30,000 fans at the big races. The competition is world-class and deep. The courses over here are so much more challenging. You get the muddiest of the mud races, the sandiest of the sand races, the hilliest of the climbing races. It's a crucible, and I love it.” She hungers for the competition, the camaraderie and the clarity she experiences racing in the epicenter of the sport. And at the Koppenbergcross, she once again found all three in abundance.

Photos by Jered Gruber and Ashley Gruber

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