The Best Strava Art of 2023

2023 was a big year for Strava art, with world records coming and going and an ever-eclectic array of animals, logos and everything in between.

For the uninitiated, Strava art is what happens when the GPS map of a ride takes on its own form, sometimes by accident, but usually by design – and increasingly through increasingly bold, detailed and artistic designs.

The last 12 months have unleashed some masterpieces on the world and we’ve rounded up the best of the best here at GCNgallery at the end of the year. As the lead curator, we enlisted the help of Gary Cordery, who runs the website and Instagram account and is as close to the governing body for Strava art as we can get.

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Here, Gary ranks the 10 best pieces of cycling Strava art from this year, offering his expert assessment of each.

“I will take into account a combination of factors,” he says. “You have the visual impact and the level of detail, but you also have to consider the physical effort and the stories behind the art.

“I will also keep a close eye on the technical side. I tend to find shorter rides of around 100km to be more impressive than ultra-rides because you can get away with the bigger art. There are also certain places where it’s easier to draw, like grid-like cities, where it’s like etching a sketch, while places like London are a real challenge with the road layout.”

Without further ado, let’s dive into the top 10.

10. Outlines of Liège by Philippe Gilbert

Curator’s Notes: “I’m not usually the biggest fan of map outlines, but I quite like this one tracing the province of Liège, trying to stick as close to the borders as possible. This may be judgment of the artist over the art, but the fact that Philippe Gilbert helps too, as it’s always nice when someone so famous gets involved in Strava art. You can tell he’s also an ex-pro as the average speed is almost 30km/h – you won’t find too many works of art faster than that, especially not over 450km.”

9. Bluey

Curator’s Notes: “Adelaide is one of those places I mentioned where the road design makes it relatively easy to come up with a blueprint, yet there’s a lot of detail here, it’s impressively true to character and it’s a lot of fun.”

8. The Taiwanese wild cat

Curator’s Notes: “There is, oddly enough, a pretty big Strava art scene in Taiwan. You can make a whole zoo out of the animals being drawn, with one particularly responsible rider, Lady Jiaozi. She had a great woolly mammoth from late last year, but this cat is probably her best from this year. It works really well.”

7. The Lion of Lyon

Curator’s Notes: “This is controversial because of the straight lines that are produced by the stop-start technique, rather than doing one continuous ride. Some people don’t see this as real art, but this lion is real art to me. There are no rules when it comes to Strava art and you can’t really lie as it’s all there, uploaded. You can have many different types of Strava art and stop-start has its place. In some ways it’s more difficult. In any case, this is a really striking example.”

6. The Movember mustache

Curator’s Notes: “This gets top marks for originality and also for the cause behind it. It was for Movember, raising money for charity, and that also has a lot of meaning in my eyes, especially when you tie in with the charity theme. Plus, it’s huge – it spans the south of England. I should have put it in the top 10.”

5. The Big Dog

Curator’s Notes: “The size alone makes it special. It is even bigger than the giant heart in France that attracted so much attention. 2400 km: wow. Maps can be deceiving and you never get the scale initially, but you see the state names – Indiana, Ohio – and you realize that’s a pretty big part of the US. It’s a relatively simple image, but its size puts it in the top five.”

4. The Wicked Witch

Curator’s Notes: “This is from a guy who started doing a lot of Strava art in the last year. His name is Nicolas Georgiou and he does a lot in London, like me. We are in touch and I know how much care he puts into it. It would take him all day to do it. It was a really clever, nice piece for Halloween, with not only a witch, but also a broom, a cat and a bat. There are so many different elements and so much attention to detail.”

3. The tandem heart

Curator’s Notes: “You might be a little surprised that this is in my top three, as I usually prefer the more technical drawings and this one is pretty simple. But behind the drawing is everything. Its large size and the time required. The fact is, it was in tandem. This is the father and daughter combination. That was €26,000 raised for charity. It deserves a place on the podium.”

2. The Christmas deer

Curator’s Notes: “This is from the main man Anthony Hoyt, who is probably the most talented Strava artist in the world, I’d say. He’s been doing a lot less lately, but when he does, you sit back and take note. They are brilliant and so realistic. He always does Christmas and this is up there with the best of him. I like the scarf. It’s in Paris so he did well there considering he doesn’t know the roads and it took him 11 hours. A little ‘wipe’ for the red nose and he might have taken first place.”

1. The Solstice Sun

Curator’s Notes: “It was my favorite piece of the year. It may not be the most exciting, but there is something beautiful about it. It’s Nicola Georgiou again and he’s done a few this year but this one stands out for me. 300 km, more than 18 hours of riding – this is a huge effort. And also relevant – he did it on Solstice.

“And it’s worth noting how hard it is to make good Strava art in London. The road layout makes designing things really difficult and crossing the river is a particular headache – I once had to take the cable car across the Thames. This one manages to cover both north and south of the river, plus the outskirts of London. Especially the eyes and lips are really clever. It might not be everyone’s favorite, but it’s the pick of the year in my eyes.”

Do you agree with the ranking? Head to the comments section below to tell us your favorite Strava artwork of 2023. And check out Gary Cordery’s Strava Art website here.

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