Friday, November 23, 2012


It has been a tradition of mine to hit the EFTA/FOMBA Turkey Burner fun ride each year on Black Friday. I've not missed this ride for as long as I've been keeping a training log, since 2002, and probably a few years before that.

Occurring during a transition between seasons, any kind of weather can be expected. Over the dozen-plus years I've ridden the T-burner, we've had several nice years with dry conditions and temps above 50F, like today. 300+ riders can show up on a nice day.  But I've also ridden in rain, on at least four occasions, including one year it poured the whole ride at 35F. Less than 50 riders showed that year.  There were at least two years with snow on the ground, and one of those years the temp never got out of the teens. I'll take that over 35F rain any day. I've flatted only once, back before I converted to tubeless.

The FOMBA trail system is considerably bonier now than 10 years ago. Heavy usage has a way of bringing roots and rocks "up." My average speed hasn't dropped much though. Today the conditions weren't perfect, but close. Heavy fog in the morning left areas a tad greasy. Leaf drop is always a factor on this ride.

At registration, the usual suspects were chomping at the bit. I know I enter a risky realm when riding with RichB and DaveP on technical terrain. They ride FOMBA like brakes are optional. I burn through pads at FOMBA. The ride start was a bit chaotic, with SteveG arriving late and Rich and Dave heading out with another group. I wondered if I'd see them again. It didn't take long for Steve, Skogs and I to catch the group.

Large group rides aren't really my thing, as you invariably spend as much time regrouping, fixing flats and mechanicals and BSing as you do riding. Nothing wrong with that, just not my style. I rather push myself until I fade into an endorphin fog. Rich and Dave share similar ride values.

Unfortunately, when I came to the front of the pack to ratchet the pace up a bit heading to Battery Point, Steve and Skogs fell off. Before heading into the "hero" section, we debated whether to wait for a bit, but consensus was to stay ahead of the masses. FOMBA trails can really get gummed up with diversity of riders hitting the challenging terrain. I feared doom riding with these two without others to temper the pace just a bit. They give me no sympathy.

I nearly cleaned Fireline with one minor dab. I was glad to be alive coming out the other end of the peril filled three mile ribbon of death. The second longest trail in the system, the two mile long Long Trail, didn't treat me nearly as well with many dabs. I used to be able to clean these two trails regularly. The two biggest, chunkiest trails down, the rest should be easy as pie. Mmmm, already thinking about pie waiting for me at home.

The remaining nine FOMBA trails were a blur. Nobody hit the deck, but there were close calls. Having gotten through the hero section in good time, we decided to add a segment off the arrowed loop, adding about 4mi to the ride. Rich hadn't ridden this trail before, which hugs Old Candia and Hooksett roads. Nice flow and hillier than the rest of the FOMBA material.

Rich on bonus trail. Midday, long shadows, must be getting
close to December.

We finished with 31.6 miles and 3:15 hours on the Garmin. The parking lot was still full when we got back. Steve and Skogs had just finished too. They took a wrong turn, doubled back, then stopped and had some hot cocoa at the midpoint. Glad we didn't wait longer for them at the end of Fireline.

I made a huge dent in leftovers when I got home. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with the works (half pound of cream cheese, tub of sour cream and chives), gravy, and pie. Cathy baked two pies Thanksgiving morning, and 30hrs later, they are nearly gone. Cathy had only a small sliver each. Fat Doug ate the rest. Zero will-power when that kind of stuff is around. Now I have to recover for a 50+ miler planned on Sunday.

No way riding is cancelling out these calories!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rider Down

It's been a while since a Hill Junkie ride has claimed a victim. In fact, I think I was the last victim was back in May 2010 when I broke my ankle. Before that, Alex overcooked a switchback on Smuggler's Notch and kissed a granite rock face, and before that Bill overcooked a switchback on Gonzo Pass and met up with a guardrail post. All of these were ambulance extractions, two could easily have been fatalities.

On Saturday, we had a solid posse of four riders for what is becoming a classic Massabesic-Bear Brook loop. I hooked up with DaveP, PaulL and RichB, all guys that can run me into the ground in endurance endeavors.

It was a bit chilly starting out, but not bad at all for mid-November. Trail riding this time of year can be a bit challenging with leaf drop, especially if you hit less frequently traveled terrain. You can never know what evil lurks just under the cover. It takes a step-up in faith that no harm will come your way when charging down a dicy descent. The alternative is to hit only trails that have been brushed out or not ride trails at all. Only a couple weeks past hurricane Sandy, many riding areas in southern NH and most of Mass are still very messy with downed trees and debris. Further north incurred much less damage, but trails would not have been swept or heavily traveled since leaf drop either.  The group settled on something relatively close, out of the peak storm damage area, but a bit remote.

It doesn't get any nicer than this

Riding through Candia on an unnamed logging road, there is an uber bony, eroded descent. Mix in a little sliminess, random sticks and roots buried in the leaves, and cantaloupe sized rocks that roll unexpected under your front wheel, you have a situation that gives me the willies.  Paul went down without warning, shoulder and rib checking into rocks hard. He was behind me, so I didn't see it. But I heard it.

Paul calmly sat there for a minute, assessing the damage. He got up, said his shoulder wasn't right, and maybe he cracked some ribs. Not seeing Paul take a hit before, it was hard to judge if he really did any damage or not. He seemed so matter of fact and cool about it. When I asked him are you sure, he said "yeah, I can feel shit rattling around in there." Oh, that is not good. Had it been me, I would have wailing sounds of death, I'm sure. Then again, Paul is a former pro hockey player, so I'd bet he's no wimp like me.

Ironically, out of four riders, none of us brought a cell phone. It seems most times something bad happens on a ride, no one has a phone or we're out of cell range. Fortunately, we had just crossed Rt 27, so a phone and help was not far away. Paul was able to walk back up.

Fortuitously, a gentleman just pulled into his driveway as we popped out on the road. I mentioned we had an injured rider and asked if we could use his phone. He asked if we needed an ambulance. Paul wasn't sure yet, not knowing the extent of his injuries. His wife was on travel, so if he took a meat wagon ride to the hospital, he'd be without his car. I didn't know what to make of this.  The man kindly offered to take Paul to his car at Massabesic Lake. I didn't get the man's name, but he was a bit older than us and is an avid cyclist too. We put Paul's bike in the garage, and off they went.

So what do you do after that? With a rider down, a pall is cast over the remainder of the ride. We decided to press on according to plan. If I was paranoid before going down the nasty descent, I was terrified the second time. Paul was on a 29er and is more skilled than I. If this could happen to him, it could twice as easily happen to me. Not more than 50ft from where Paul went down, Dave hit the deck, tweaking his wrist. It wasn't his first time taking a tumble on this descent. Both times he claimed "I was going too slow." Yeah, whatever. That just means I saved him for a more serious injury from crashing going too fast ;)

The ledge wall came right after this descent. None of us cleaned it. Just too many leaves and sticks. The hero climb lived up to its name. A little bit of dirt road took us into Bear Brook. I-trail was first. This rode very well, no downed trees and very little debris. The ride was looking up. We bombed down to the campground and picked up Hemlock Trail. This is one of my favorites in Bear Brook. Great flow, and covers real distance. Crossing the MTBer parking lot, we followed Bear Brook Trail. We decided not to hit the new Little Bear/Big Bear trails due to time lost with the mishap.

Rich and Dave climbing Cascade Brook Trail

The upper parking area and new Kiosk NEMBA constructed

Beginning our return trip on Bear Brook Extension, we encountered some blow-downs. Not major, how do you get around this kind, but nuisance simple dismount kind. In all, we encountered five blow-downs in Bear Brook, not bad considering how many miles of trail we rode and how powerful of a storm Sandy was.

I was starting to fade by the time we began the final climb up Bear Hill. This was reminiscent of riding in Vermont the previous weekend, tongue of saddle violating nether regions, chest to handlebar, barely turning the pedals over. The descent is always great, if not totally sketchy right now with deep oak leaf cover and tree debris.

Bottom of Bear Hill Trail

Once back on Trail 15 heading south to Manchester, it was smooth sailing. Almost. A large logging operation has commenced south of Rt 27. The narrow ATV trail is now a 50ft wide quagmire. Our bikes were relatively clean until this point, but with some frost in the ground, the brownie mix on top was nearly unrideable in spots. We had to go through here to close our loop. I read this operation could go on for quite some time.

Quagmire on Trail 15

We got back to the cars with 53.5mi in just over 5hrs moving time on the Garmin. A bit slower than previous times on this loop, but not surprising with conditions and the mishap lurking in your head.

I had no messages from Paul. I thought oh-oh, not good. But he picked up when I called. He was back in home turf heading to CVS to pick up meds. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, he fractured his clavicle. No injury to the shoulder joint and no broken ribs, which was good. While a pretty hard break, no surgery will be needed.   The Good Samaritan that brought Paul to his car also escorted him to Elliot Hospital nearby in  Manchester. We were fortunate to meet him and it is reassuring to know there are still people in this world like him.

Every time we get on a bike, we take a risk. We accept this risk, knowing sooner or later "your number" will come up. Mine came up two and half years ago. Am I off the hook now? As an engineer and having studied a little statistics, I can recognize gambler's fallacies. I'm just as vulnerable now as I was then. Maybe slightly less vulnerable, as there are times I consciously accept less risk, especially riding alone. When a rider gets hurt, we're secretly glad it wasn't us this time.  Ride enough though, a mishap will find you, whether it be meeting up with a car on the road or hitting the deck on trails.

Anyway, I wish Paul a speed recovery. I'm sure he'll be hitting the trainer this week and will have no trouble maintaining fitness.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Perfect Storm

I dealt my body a healthy does of muscle confusion this weekend. Friday I dropped a ski off at The Bikeway Source for Chris to characterize on his flex machine. This was the unbroken mate to the ski I broke in the Lake Placid Loppet a year ago. I've had bad luck selecting skate skis over the years, invariably picking skis that are too stiff for me. Hopefully Chris can quantitatively find me a new pair that matches the pair I broke and liked.

While at Bikeway, I thought I might as well go for a dirt rail trail run, as multiple railtrails popular with cyclists converge at Bikeway, thus the name. I felt great on foot for once and maintained a brisk pace for 8+ miles. It was so nice out that later in the day I hopped on my mountain bike and did a 14+ mile hilly loop from my house.

Saturday morning I planned to join the Southern NH NEMBA guys for some trail building in Merrimack. NEMBA has permission to build additional trails in the Horse Hill area. I swung a rogue hoe and ax for about 3hrs, using muscles that have rarely been used for 25yrs. Plus we hefted some big rocks to sculpt an interesting rock feature in the trail.

Trail work day. Photo by Matt Caron.

I couldn't let the week pass without a second rollerski workout. So after turning my core into pulp, I dropped down to Whittier Rd to ski 13 laps of free-skating and double-poling. The last double pole lap was pretty ugly going over the hill.

The running, mountain biking, chopping and rollerskiing were leading up to a crescendo of a mountain bike ride in Vermont on Sunday.  DaveP and I headed up to Norwich, where I explored some interesting terrain about two months ago. I had a 45 mile route mapped with upwards of 7000ft of climbing.

I knew leaf drop would be a challenge. I made some tweaks to my previous loop in hopes of cleaning it up a bit. The route proved more challenging than I expected. Much of the climbing occurred at 2.5mph on soft, rarely travel logging routes, deep into the realm of anaerobia.  Staying on the barely there singletrack in some places proved difficult. We ended up cutting out a second pass over Thetford Hill, and even then, finished the ride as the sun was setting. We saw no hunters on the trail, but no doubt they saw us. Many trucks were parked along the roads.

Despite a slightly diminished fun-factor due to leaf drop and some wet doubletracks, it was a fabulous late fall day to ride in the woods. How often can you ride central Vermont in November in short sleeves? Needless to say, the varied weekend ensured no muscle group in my body escaped unscathed. I was pretty much catatonic Monday at work. I'll leave you with a few photos from Sunday's ride.

Climbing near Mitchell Brook. Some old growth here.

On ridge line adjacent to Gile Mountain. Is trail obvious? It was in
September when I last rode this.

Riding along the Ompompanoosuc River near Thetford.

Covered bridge on the Ompompanoosuc.

Descending towards the Ompompanoosuc.

Some open meadows and bluebird sky too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Soy for the Hummer

Several weeks ago I drew some comparisons between the energy needs of every day devices and the capability of a typical cyclist in “Watts in a Kilojoule.” I received much public and private feedback on that post. I’d like to expand on one of the themes in that post.

A couple of astute readers pointed out carelessness in my analysis. I compared energy needs of cars powered by internal combustion engines to fully electric vehicles on a one-to-one basis. This led me to overestimate the demands that would be put on our power grid if all vehicles on the road were converted to 100% electric. I've spent 10yrs of my career working with battery powered electric vehicles, so I should not have been so careless. Guess I tried to keep things simple, thinking nobody would notice.

Internal combustion engines are only about 20% efficient, interestingly, about the same as a trained cyclist. This means 80% of the consumed energy is wasted as heat. This is why cars have big radiators and humans sweat. An electric car, on the other hand, is about 80% efficient. Only 20% is wasted as heat. Grid to wheels isn't quite this good though, as charging the battery after each drive wastes energy in the form of heat in the charging equipment and the battery itself. Grid to wheels efficiency is closer to 60%. But still, this is three times more efficient than gas engines.

If all vehicles were converted to electric, we’d only need to build 200 new nuclear power plants, not 600 as I originally surmised. That’s only four nuke reactors per state. Relieved now? Note I’m not anti-nuclear, I’m actually strongly in favor of this form of energy over coal or foreign oil. I suspect many readers are not keen on nuclear power. My point here is to show the magnitude of how much energy it takes to power our mobile lifestyle.

I also pointed out previously that if we chose a renewable biofuel path to reduce CO2 emissions, we didn't have enough farmland to power our needs and would have nothing left to eat if we tried. I’d like to expand on this point a good deal further.

I don’t have anything against limited biofuel use. I know a couple people who run biodiesel in their cars. A teammate uses unprocessed McDonalds oil in his car. Smells like French-fries! Using biofuel that might otherwise be wasted is a brilliant and noble thing to do. I do, however, have a problem with large-scale biofuel production. There are ethical challenges here, in that our “need” to drive 2000kg SUVs around impacts world food supply when increasing percentages of the fuel we burn is mandated to come from food crops. The whole biofuel industry in this country is mired in politics at its ugliest. But I don’t want to, nor need to go into the messy side of biofuels here. It is much easier to show that biofuel production is very inefficient use of land.

Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger scene here. Fossil fuels are hundreds of millions of years old. These hydrocarbons were created with energy from the sun. It takes some energy to extract and refine crude oil, but over 90% of the energy extracted from the ground is made available in the various distillation products. Crude oil has very high energy density, and eons of solar energy are stored up in it (along with carbon that used to be in the air, topic for another post).

When we grow a crop with the intent of turning it into biofuel, what do you think the net efficiency is? 50%? 10%? 1%? You will be surprised. Many crops grown for biofuel are once a year harvest in the US. A good part of the year, like in winter, the land is unproductive and producing no energy. Even during most of the growing season, the plant is capturing solar energy to build the infrastructure to produce the fruit that is harvested to be fermented or pressed for oil.

Photosynthesis has a peak efficiency of about 6%. This is the process in the leaf itself, not a measure of all the sunlight illuminating a field. This is not likely to improve dramatically anytime soon with genetic engineering. Photosynthesis uses only a portion of the Sun’s spectrum, and not all of the energy that is absorbed is retained.  This already puts a pretty pessimistic upper bound on biofuel efficiency. The average efficiency of photosynthesis over a course of a year is no more 0.6%. This is total energy the plant captured from available sunlight. With current biofuel processes to make fuel for cars, we must next make ethanol or biodiesel. Only certain parts of the plant are useful for this. You can’t press oil out of cellulose, where some of the plants energy is stored. The efficiency now drops to less than 0.1%! This doesn't even factor in that a lot of outside energy must be put into this process to till the land, produce the fertilizers, and ferment or press the grain. (see Michel and ARPA-E for references)

Ok, so far we've learned that biofuels can at best capture 1 Joule out of every 1000 Joules of energy from the sun. Since this is a liquid biofuel, it will be burned by a combustion engine with about 20% efficiency. That 0.1% just dropped to 0.02% for a Sun to wheels efficiency. See how absurd this is getting?

So here’s where I’m going with this. State of the art photovoltaics can now convert about 30% of the Sun’s energy directly into electricity. Theoretical peak efficiency is about 66%, but we are still a ways away from that. The beauty with PVs is this. The energy is already in a form that can immediately be fed across the country with negligible additional processing or loss. Using the 60% grid-to-wheels efficiency established earlier for electric cars, photovoltaics gives 18% Sun to wheels efficiency. This is 900x more efficient than biofuel for combustion cars! Right now, today, you can get 900 times more energy from an acre of solar cells than you can from an acre of biofuel crop over the course of a year. Further, you can use unproductive land for photovoltaics. No farmland for gas tanks is needed at all.

Now some biofuel proponents may find this troubling. Even if these estimates are off by a factor of 10, or if we suddenly engineer a new biofuel plant that doesn't go viral and consume the planet, harnessing energy from the sun with photovoltaics will still be far more efficient from a land use perspective than growing crops.

The big problem with photovoltaics today is they are expensive to produce. They can’t compete with cheap oil and coal on a large scale. Payback periods are very long.  I believe we must end mandates and subsidies for biofuels and redouble our efforts on direct electricity production form the sun. If there ever was a need for government funded research or subsidies, solar energy and battery storage technology are it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Off Script

After several moderate to highly active days in a row, I was looking for something less punishing on Sunday morning. I had forgotten about the time change. I thought it was odd when I woke before my alarm went off, it was already light out, and I felt rested for once. My alarm is programmed for time changes. It didn't dawn on me that we "fell back" until later in the morning.

It looked like a pristine day was on tap. I thought about hitting some place new, or at least an area I hadn't ridden in a long time. My area and south was quite questionable, with moderate to extensive hurricane Sandy damage. Heading north proved successful on Saturday. Hit Franklin Falls Dam? Hmmm, too small, unless linking in brutal Page Hill material. Over the last few years, I've heard riding opportunities have expanded in the greater Laconia area. I rode up Gunstock Mountain once, maybe 12-13 years ago. I alpine skied at Gunstock once too, at least 10 years ago. I don't think I've been there since.

I pulled a couple interesting looking tracks off Strava that were going to show me the enlightened way to MTB nirvana. One went up the west side of Gunstock Mtn, followed the Belknap Mtns ridgeline, then came back down to Gilford. Another track linked a few small trail systems around Gilford. Not a lot of miles, maybe one tough climb, so overall not too hard of a day. Or so I thought.

I parked at the elementary school in Gilford. The trail up Gunstock starts right from the parking lot. I should have studied the profile more carefully. A hundred meters in, the trail went past 20% grade and stayed there a good while. Zero warm up, lead legs from the day before, good times. Don't know the name of this trail. It starts out as a wide, well established path, then splits. Strava riders took a more serpentine route. It seems not to lessen the severity of the grade, but to hit more interesting terrain. The higher the trail meandered, the steeper and rougher the terrain became. With deep leaf drop, it was almost impossible to hold traction on the   non-benched trail. 2.5mph was heart pounding out your throat pace. One section required a brief hike-a-bike.

I was relieved upon reaching the ridge line. I no doubt put myself in a training hole on that climb that will take me better part of next week to recover from. A brief drop dumped me out at an open saddle and ski runs. The GPS track I was following went up a ski run with a faint ATV track on it. It was decent to ride on, but heinously steep. As I neared the Gunstock summit, I had an oh-oh experience. The 20% grade doubled. The grade was so steep my calves immediately rebelled while pushing my bike. This was the Cannon Mountain Sufferfest all over again. This couldn't go too far, could it?

Ridgeline, much better than 20% grade on oak leaves

Grassy ski slope climb, Lake Winnipesaukee in background.
Somewhere in those mountains beyond the lake is where I
rode the day before.

As I reached the summit, I heard music and people. Odd, I thought, as I hadn't seen anybody in a long time. There were a couple ski area employees up there sitting in a lift chair. They were running the lift periodically when hikers or zip-liners paid for a ride up.  The zip-line from the summit runs nearly 4000ft, and they said you can hit 60mph on it. Crazy. It was wicked windy and cold up top. I got chilled quickly, even though I was way overdressed for the climb.

Continuing south on the ridgeline, I dropped on a ski slope then cut into the woods. I quickly learned that this was a hiking trail, in that a Fred like me was not going to be riding much of it. Rather than go for a new mother of all boondoggles record, I nipped this  boondoggle in the bud. I knew the trail would soon climb hundreds of feet on an even steeper grade to Belknap summit. Bummer, as this meant I was either descending the way I came, or take another route down the east side, away from my car and the rest of the ride I had planned.

Initial descent from summit heading unplanned way.
This was treacherous, so loose, at times both tires were skidding.

I turned around, found the ridgeline heading north to be quite rideable. The views did not disappoint either. I hopped on a snowmobile route for the descent, which had a faint singletrack beaten into the center of it. I was completely off any planned GPS track now and winging it. This dumped me out on Rt 11A several miles and a big climb east of my car.

More ridgeline slickrock approaching cell tower.

Next up was a trail system north of Gilford center. The track looked nice. The problem was, there was no discernible trail to follow! Several people have ridden the track I downloaded this summer, but I could have just as well plotted a random path through the woods and followed it. It wasn't just leaf drop. Logs and tree debris made it look like nobody has ridden there in years. Maybe had I come in from the other side, where the highest density of trails were, things would have been different. Abort number two.

That left only one more riding area to check out, the trails by Saltmarsh Pond. This was just a bit further down Rt 11A. These trails were discernible under the leaf cover and showed signs of active maintenance. I started climbing and climbed some more. I hadn't eaten much and went into a sudden bonk. One thing is common to all riding around here: you are either climbing or descending on crazy steep grades. I followed the perimeter as best I could, leaving the GPS track loop on the Garmin. In addition to being climby, they are quite tight and twisty. After getting a good sampling of the area, I looked for a route back down and out. With over 3000ft of off-road climbing in just 15mi, I had enough punishment for the day.

Glad I didn't take anybody with me on this one. There would have been a lot of Jansen trashin'.  The 80 minute drive up was still worth it.  There are many more trails I saw on Gunstock that warrant further exploration. Maybe next summer I'll head up there again. Riding with locals would be the best bet.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Whites Mini (loop)

I headed back up to the White Mountains on a whim Saturday morning, this time with the cyclocross bike. I hadn't ridden Sandwich Notch/Algonquin Rd yet this fall. They form one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path segments, falling somewhere in between road cycling and mountain biking.  Sandwich Notch is a seasonal forest service road that is generally too gnarly for a regular road bike. It is a steep 1000+ foot climb on a chunky, and at times muddy, gravel road. Grade exceeds 20% in a couple places.  Algonquin Rd follows the Beebe River downstream (when ridden east to west). It is a gated forest service road and in spots almost too chunky even for a cross bike. Having a downhill bias too it, I bet a full suspension mountain bike would be the fastest mode of travel on it. A cross bike is perfect for the rest of the loop, which optimizes the overall ride.

The mini-loop swung by Perch Pond, then took a hodge-podge of dirt roads back to Campton, where I parked. It seems you climb the same 100 feet a million times during this section of the ride. It is roller purgatory for sure.

Normally I would add in another monster climb, like Stinson Lake or Tripoli Rd, but the legs didn't feel up to it. I hit most of the endless rollers pretty hard to make up for a shortened loop. I'll leave you with a few photos that capture the essence of the ride.

Looking down the now paved Taylor Rd. This means about 95%
of the Campton Mtn climb is paved. Boo. At least half of the descent
is still dirt.

Sandwich Mountain from Sandwich Notch Rd. Hint of snow
around 3000ft.

Sandwich Notch Rd, heading down south side. Either there was
minimal hurricane Sandy damage, or it had already been cleaned up.

Algonquin Rd near the west end. This portion was recently improved
for a logging operation you can faintly see looking down the river.

Tenney Mountain from Pulcifer Rd. The wind farm is almost complete.

Zoom of wind farm. 24 turbines in all. I think this is wicked cool.
Read more about it here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

GPX Download From Strava

I've been asked several times to share GPX tracks of my rides I upload to Strava. Most ride mapping apps (MapMyRide, Garmin Connect, etc) allow anybody to download anybody's track in multiple formats. Except Strava. I think there was a brief time when the export button was available under the actions tab which allowed one to download a GPX track of a ride they liked. Now you can do that only for your own content you upload. I read speculative comments that Strava risked security problems with the GPX export function and limits it to only your own data now. I'm not a premium member, but as best I can tell from recent forum activity, premium members do not have the luxury of GPX export either.

But all is not lost. Many avid Strava users will no doubt know of ways to circumvent this limitation. It is a bit of a nuisance, but you can download any track or segment you see on Strava, and even ones you can't see, I've learned.

Strava data is available via API tools. One such tool I use when Strava data mining is Strava Export v2.0 by Cosmo Catalano. There is an instruction link below the URL box on how to use it.

Data on Strava is open for anybody to access. Just for fun, I uploaded a ride and labeled it as private. I then pasted the URL for the ride in Strava Export, and what do you know, the ride isn't so private! How much information can be extracted from a private ride, I don't know. But if you could get the track, presumably you could get who it belongs to. User beware.

I did test some privacy zones. These do seem to hold up when a third party API like Cosmo's Strava Export downloads a track.

Not sure what Strava is trying to protect here. If you can see who the track belongs to and then grab the raw data via other means, why not just let everybody export from within Strava? It would make life much easier for a miner of good track material like myself.