Cycling apps & tech

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 146.

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Route-finding

CycleStreets

Description: Born from a Cambridge-only journey planner and photomap launched by Camcycle in 2006, CycleStreets is now an extensive cycle route planner using the OpenStreetMap data. It can route journeys to suit a range of cyclists from beginner through regular commuter to enthusiast, finding faster or quieter routes as preferred. It can also take hills into account, looking for the descents and avoiding ascents where possible, balancing them against the available road types. The Photomap lets you view and submit photos of of routes around the UK, including examples of good practice or infrastructure problems.

Platform: Website cyclestreets.net, and iOS / Android apps

Price: Free

Komoot

Description: While you can use Google Maps for navigating on bike rides, you can find it wanting to take you down muddy bridleways when you’re on slick tyres. Komoot, however, shows you the surface types and elevation of your route so you can plan road, mountain, touring or gravel bike rides to suit you. Enter start and end points for your journey, and it will tell you the difficulty, elevation changes, fitness required and the type of road surfaces you’ll encounter on it. You’ll get turnby-turn navigation tailored for bike journeys, rather than cars. You can find and share routes, and the Komoot community also provides points of interest – peaks, parks, cafés and so on that are worth a visit.

Platform: iOS / Android

Price: First region is free when you sign-up; additional regions £8.99 each; worldwide coverage is £29.99.

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Map my ride

Description: This combines data tracking of any rides you do with route planning, training plans and live tracking. Real-time audio coaching on GPS-tracked rides is available, with customisable voice announcements for information like pace, distance, and elevation. The route functionality allows you to find nearby places to ride, save your favourite tracks, add new ones, and share with others. Paid-for features include Live Tracking to share real-time location and give loved ones peace of mind.

Platform: iOS / Android

Price: Ad-supported version is free, premium version monthly subscription costs $5.99 per month.

Viewranger

Description: For those who really want to get out and explore. It has routes for all types of activities, not just cycling, including hiking, running, canoeing, sailing and more. Download routes to your phone to explore with GPS, even if there is no mobile reception. Its Skyline feature uses your smartphone camera and overlays the name of peaks, points of interest or even directional arrows to help you navigate. Maps are included in the app, with premium large-scale maps available for a fee. Routes are created by members of the Viewranger community, some free and some paid, and you can create and share your own.

Platform: iOS / Android

Price: Free to download with basic maps included, premium maps and routes priced individually.

Fitness & Training

Strava

Description: A bike computer, ride logger, leaderboard and social network rolled into one. By starting Strava before a bike ride, you can record your route and performance stats, and share them with others (although this is not compulsory). The sharing aspect means you can compare your performance along popular stretches of road or trail marked in Strava as Segments. There are Segment Leaderboards so you have extra motivation to get fitter and climb them. Users also share routes so you can always find somewhere new to explore.

Platform: OS / Android

Price: Free for the app, extra features available for a monthly subscription in Strava Summit.

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Cyclemeter

Description: Intended to be a replacement for your cycle computer, Cyclemeter shows and records all kinds of performance data, from speed, time and distance to elevation, heart rate, cadence and power (with sensors). Set up interval training, zones and targets, or even race against yourself and your previous times along a route. Maps, graphs, split intervals, laps, You can also set it up so you can hear your data, or that of your friends and followers on social media, as you’re cycling along.

Platform: iOS / Android

Price: Free, with in-app purchases for certain features.

TrainingPeaks

Description: As the name might suggest, this app is very tightly focused on training. It offers personalised training plans created by professionals, as well as direct access to accredited coaches and detailed feedback after every workout. If you’re serious about getting fit, and have a goal in mind, such as a 50-mile race, a boost to your power output, or training so you can tackle Land’s End to John O’Groats, then this will have something for you.

Platform: iOS / Android

Price: Free version has basic features, full version is approx £7 per month, training plans and coaches are priced individually

Modern Indoor Cycle Training

Zwift cycle racing game at our CamcycleTech event last year
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Do you want to get serious about cycle training all year round? Perhaps you want to experience mountains, or even just hills, without having to leave Cambridgeshire? If so, you could try indoor cycle training and the current breed of apps that make it though, as you need the right equipment, both hardware and software. more interesting. Fun, even. It may not be cheap to get started,

If you have a gym membership, you may already have access to the right hardware. Modern exercise bikes can be paired with your smartphone. The bikes send performance data as you cycle to an app which can control the resistance of the bike. You can get this ability without a gym membership by buying a smart trainer that connects to your bike and phone, but this is an expensive option. You can use your own bike and some rollers, so long as you have a power meter that can connect to your smartphone.

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The most popular apps for indoor cycle training include Zwift, TheSufferfest and Rouvy. Zwift’s aim is to turn cycle training into a game, allowing you to cycle with riders from all over the world without leaving home. TheSufferfest combines tailored training plans with footage from pro races, storylines and music. Rouvy takes highquality footage of various well-known bike routes, such as the Stelvio Pass in northern Italy, and augments it with computer graphics, placing you in your own virtual race.

Indoor cycling may initially sound like a lonely pursuit, but these apps have huge communities of all abilities waiting for you to join. It may just be enough to keep you fit all year round.