The best Strava art of 2023

Strava art expert Gary Cordery joins us to rank and rate the GPS masterpieces of the past 12 months

Clock11:24, Saturday 30th December 2023

© Strava / Strav.art

The best Strava art of 2023

2023 has been 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 a shape of its own, occasionally by accident but usually by design – and increasingly by ever-more audacious, detailed, and artistic design.

The past 12 months have unleashed some masterpieces upon the world, and we’ve gathered the best of the best here in GCN’s end-of-year gallery. As curator-in-chief, we’ve enlisted the help of Gary Cordery, who runs the Strav.art website and Instagram account, and is as close to a governing body for Strava art as you’re going to get.

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Here, Gary has ranked the 10 best pieces of cycling Strava art from this year, offering his expert verdict on each of them.

“I’ll be taking into account a combination of factors,” he says. “You’ve got the visual impact and the level of detail, but you also have to take into account the physical effort involved and the stories behind the art.

“I’ll also have a keen eye on the technical aspect. I tend to find the shorter rides of around 100km are more impressive than the ultra-rides, because you can get away with a fair bit with the bigger art. There are also certain places where it’s easier to draw, such as grid-like cities where it's like an etch-a-sketch, whereas places like London are a real challenge with the road layouts.”

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

10. Philippe Gilbert's Liège outline

View post on Instagram
 

Curator's notes: "I'm not usually the biggest fan of map outlines, but I do quite like this one tracing the province of Liège by trying to stick as close to the borders as possible. This might be judging the artist over the art but the fact that it's Philippe Gilbert also helps, as it's always nice when someone so high-profile gets involved with Strava art. You can tell he's a former pro, too, as the average speed is nearly 30km/h – you won't find too many artworks quicker than that, especially not over 450km."

9. Bluey

View post on Instagram
 

Curator's notes: "Adelaide is one of those places I mentioned where the road design makes it relatively easy to come up with a drawing, but there's still a lot of detail here, it's impressively true-to-character, and it's a lot of fun."

8. The Taiwanese wildcat

Curator's notes: "There is, weirdly, quite a big Strava art scene in Taiwan. You could make a whole zoo out of the animals that get drawn, with one rider particularly responsible, Lady Jiaozi. She had a great wooly mammoth from late last year but this cat is arguably her best from this year. It works really nicely."

7. The Lyon Lion

View post on Instagram
 

Curator's notes: "This is a contentious one, because of the straight lines, which is 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 proper art for 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 the stop-start has its place. In some ways, it’s more difficult to do. In any case, this one is a really striking example."

6. The Movember Mustache

Curator's notes: "This gets top marks for originality, and also the cause behind it. It was for Movember, raising money for charity, and that also counts for a lot in my eyes, especially when you're tying in the theme of the charity. Plus, it's massive – it covers the south of England. I had to put this in the top 10."

5. The Big Dog

Curator's notes: "It’s the sheer size of it that makes it special. It’s even bigger than the giant heart in France that caught so much attention. 2,400km: wow. The maps can be deceptive and you never take in the scale initially but you see the names of the states – Indiana, Ohio – and you realise that it’s a pretty big chunk of the USA. It’s a relatively simple image but the size of it puts it in the top five."

4. The Wicked Witch

Curator's notes: "This one’s from a guy who has started doing a lot of Strava art in the past year. His name’s Nicolas Georgiou, and he does a lot in London, like me. We’ve been in contact, and I know how much care he puts into it. He’ll take all day to do it. This one was just really clever, a nice Halloween piece, with not just a witch but a broomstick, a cat, and a bat. There are lots of different elements and so much attention to detail."

3. The Tandem Heart

Curator's notes: "You might be slightly surprised this is in my top three, since I usually favour the more technical drawings, and this one is pretty simple. But it's everything behind the drawing. It's the sheer size of it and the time involved. It's the fact it was on a tandem. It's the father and daughter combination. It was the 26,000 euros raised for charity. It deserves a spot on the podium."

2. The Christmas Reindeer

Curator's notes: "This one is from the main man Anthony Hoyte, who’s probably the most talented Strava artist in the world, I’d say. He does a lot less lately but when he does do one, you sit up and take note. They’re brilliant, and so lifelike. He always does a Christmas one and this is up there with his best. I love 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 bit of ‘burbing’ for a red nose and maybe he’d have taken top spot."

1. The Solstice Sun

Curator's notes: "This was my favourite piece of the year. It may not be the most exciting but there’s just something beautiful about it. It’s Nicolas Georgiou again, and he’s done a few this year but this one stands out for me. 300km, more than 18 hours of riding – that’s a huge effort. It’s topical as well – he did it on the Solstice.

"And it’s worth pointing out how difficult it is to do good Strava art in London. The road layout makes it really tricky to design things, and crossing the river represents a particular headache – I had to get the cable car across the Thames once. This one manages to cover both north and south of the river, plus the outskirts of London. The eyes and lips in particular are really skilful. It might not be everyone's favourite, but it's the pick of the year in my eyes."

Do you agree with the ranking? Head to the comments section below to let us know your favourite piece of Strava art from 2023. And check out Gary Cordery's Strava Art website here.

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