For those of you with smartphones here are some essential apps out there to take your riding to the next level. You can track, analyze, share and get coaching to take you to the next level
Endomondo – This easy to use app allows you to track rides utilizing the GPS chip in your phone overlaying your ride onto maps, tracking heart rate (using a Bluetooth compatible heart-rate belt), vertical climbed or descended, average and max. speed, distance, ride duration, calories burned and uploading to a website where you can view overall statistics that pair with some of the other apps below like MyFitnessPal.
Strava – For those with a competitive streak Strava allows you to track rides and compete for best times over “segments” that you and other riders define along your ride track. The app will tell you where you are on the leaderboard, whether your time is a personal record as well as tracking overall performance stats like heart rate, power, speed, altitude, etc.
Warning – this app does not give you permission to forget trail etiquette or road safety in pursuit of glory.
MTB Project – Quite possibly the best app developed for exploring trails in new areas. This ambitious app, developed with the support of IMBA, has mapped mountain bike trails providing an overview of trail difficulty, ride experience notes, easy to use maps to locate the trail head and track your progress along the route (handy when you come to a fork in the trail without signage) so that you know where you are at all times (as long as your battery is alive).
MyFitnessPal – In cycling, where we frequently work against gravity, lightweight = fast. You can spend hundreds (even thousands) reducing the weight of your bike by a pound or two. Equally effective and much more easily attained (and ultimately better for you) is to shed a few pounds from your own frame. For the majority of us weight can be influenced significantly by simply managing calories consumed vs. calories burned. Burn more than you consume on a regular basis and you will lose weight as your body burns up those fat reserves.
Cycling gives you an obvious means to burn calories. This app helps you understand what you are really consuming, and combines with other apps like Endomondo to tell you where you are on your calorie goal for the day/week/month. Easy bar code scanning and thousands of already input food items allows you to easily measure calories consumed and when you are ahead of the curve you can make informed choices and “treat yourself”, knowing that you are still going in the right direction.
Training Peaks – if you are training more seriously for your sport then Training Peaks might be your choice to track and upload workouts to your free Training Peaks account for detailed training plan management, or sharing and discussing progress with a coach. The mobile app gives you instant access to workout notes for your daily plan allowing you to share info immediately post workout.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge Tour Tracker – With the 2014 Tour about to start this awesome app allows you to stream live coverage to the palm of your hand along with in-race analysis and information covering all aspects of the race as the drama unfold.
Velo News – bring the world of cycling to your fingertips with this free cycling news app from the definitive cycling news source. Includes cycling news, race results and equipment reviews.
Tech Tip – My experience with using smartphone on the trail has been frustrating at times due to the power loads that the GPS tracking and the apps can place on your battery. To get around this and to have all important cellphone use when you really need it buy an external battery (take a look on Amazon)