As modern life continues to pedal forward into the future and our everyday activities become increasingly efficient and technological in their nature, now is the time to take advantage of this digital joie de vivre and start using some of the excellent free apps now available to cyclists.
Strava: GPS tracking and analysis
Mooted on its release as an app that would revolutionise the way we ride, Strava is a web and mobile app available for both iOS and Android that allows you to track and analyse all kinds of athletic activities, not only cycling. It also supports running, swimming, skiing and surfing.
What Strava does is track you via the GPS on your phone (or any other GPS device you may use), and then uploads each ride to the web. A variety of routes, from the shortest dalliance to the longest distance treks, are then mapped out alongside an array of data.
Users of the app are able to follow each other and set up what are known as ‘segments’ that allow you to plot out specific sections of into your own digital race courses. When your route overlaps one of these user-created segments, Strava will automatically rank your time for it.
Besides adding a great competitive edge to your cycling, it also allows you to look around for great places to ride in your area, or if you’ve headed somewhere new. All-in-all, Strava is a terrific all-round app and social experience that every rider should be using.
Fill That Hole: Future proofing where you ride
Oftentimes cyclist and motorists find themselves at loggerheads over a variety of petty and serious disputes. One thing we are united in, however, is our utter abhorrence of potholes. Fill That Hole is a great little app ties in with CTC, the National Cycling Charity. Here’s how they describe their app:
“CTC has produced a downloadable free software app for the Apple iPhone which dramatically improves the usefulness of Fill That Hole. By using the iPhone’s built-in camera and GPS locator, together with the large display screen, you can now report potholes and other road defects right from the roadside. Working with the Fill That Hole website, the iPhone locates where you are on a map, looks up the address and allows you to add details if needed. You can then add a photo and upload the report to the website there and then.”
An Android version of the app is due later this year.
Google Maps: Still the best
Whilst apple continues to try to tweak its mapping apps, Google remains the proverbial king of the hill. The iPhone and Android app is simple to use, has a great interface and comes with a plethora of different modes, including one for cycling. This will flag up bike friendly routes for you to take when you need to get from A to B but have never cycled there before. Use your headphones, and you can also use the app’s great audio turn-by-turn instructions to help navigate wherever you need to go.
It might not be all bells and whistles, but Google maps remains the best at what it does, and you’ll never have to pay for it!
Do you have a favourite cycling app that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!