How to “steal” Free Routes From Strava

As I explored the best free route building tools for cyclists and runners , I couldn’t help but lament the fate of Strava Route Builder . Route building, long a favorite feature of the social app, has given runners and cyclists the ability to create and customize routes before hitting the road. Unfortunately, this feature ended up behind a paywall a few years ago. And now even the tried-and -true hacks to thwart paid subscriptions don’t work anymore. It’s an old tale: the app wants money.

If you’re a paid subscriber (or you remember “Before Time”), you know how nice it is to download a pre-planned route that you can follow on your phone when you wrap up your activity. I would fiddle with route developers for hours and this option is a lifesaver when you are exploring a new area on a bike.

If you want to follow a route and record your ride at the same time without paying for the privilege, your best bet is to use Strava’s free trial period strategically. Here’s what you need to know.

Download everything you can during your free trial

If you’re using the current free version of Strava, every time you click on the map, you’ll see options to “save route” or “try this route.” These buttons take you straight to signing up for their paid subscription. At $5 a month, it’s not the end of the world. But why not use the 30-day free trial to its fullest?

Because yes, you can use the route building feature during your free trial, but your pre-planned routes won’t disappear if/when you cancel your subscription.

The main disadvantage of this method, of course, is that you have to anticipate all the routes you might want or need long after your 30 days are up. This could mean researching future resting places and plotting routes there, or perhaps creating different distances to account for expected changes in your training plan.

Using the Route Builder

Strava’s Route Builder is simple, although it works best on desktop rather than mobile devices. Select a location on the map and create new routes from scratch, use existing routes from your Strava friends, or use the Strava heatmap for inspiration .

Note. You won’t see your routes right away in the Strava app. For them to appear, you first need to press “Record”, and before you start running or cycling, press “Load Route”. Choose the route of your choice and then follow the pre-designed path while completing your activity.

As someone who at some point switched to a paid Strava subscription and then switched back to the free version, I find the route builder to be the perk I miss the most. Perhaps you should subscribe on your own. But if you’re cutting back on your monthly subscription budget, a well-used free trial can go a long way.


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