5 Essential Apps for Cyclists on Tour

After a solid six months on-the-hop in Europe, without these Apps I’d still be lugging around libraries of books, flyers, magazines, maps, tourist guides, flyers and printed memorabilia.

Have I succumbed to the Internet of Everything? (IoE – yes that’s a new industry buzzword!) It is becoming readily apparent, no matter where, the mobile device is cementing its place at the centre of the digital economy. And my digital world. With advancements in telecommunications and network access, it’s possible to be connected almost anywhere, Australia, Asia, India, Europe, USA, the list goes on.

These Apps make the life of a cyclist on tour even easier (Android focus here).

1. Strava Cycling
Strava Cycling not only turns your smartphone into a cycle computer, it also connects you with other cyclists and makes you look like a climbing devotee with all those obscure KOMs and weird segments you’ve managed to secure in the middle of nowhere.

See our previous post on how to really make this work for you when you land in a new location.

2. Daily Yoga
After racking up another bunch of frequent flyer miles Daily Yoga offers various guided sessions. It’ll help iron out any wrinkles before you get bounced around on the euro-cobbles or next tour de cafe.

You can choose different durations and intensities of the sessions as well as which area of your body to target, lower, upper and other combinations. Great for a tune-up!

3. Kindle Reader
Buy an e-book or e-magazine on-line and take it with you everywhere in bits and bytes. Virtual dog-eared pages and notes jotted in the margin, all on your tablet or smartphone anytime.

Great for the plane, the cafe, the hotel, the bar, the meadow or the mountain peak.

4. Evernote
Are you a scriber, note-taker, jotter, news-clipper and scanner of all things information? Evernote replaces your notebook, scrapbook, clipper and whatever else you’ve been lugging around to remind you of those things you know you’ll never remember otherwise. The most intelligent notebook on the block in my view.

Take a picture of that must-have brochure or delectable artisan-style fromage, type in a note, tag it and you’re away. Search by note, notebook, keyword or tag to retrieve it, via your smartphone, tablet or internet cafe. All ready for you in the cloud.

5. Hootsuite
Managing and switching between multiple social media profiles can be a bit cumbersome if it’s all done by smartphone. Hootsuite takes away the pain and presents your social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) in one dashboard. Tweet, update your status, follow your friends all in one place. Like!

They’re FREE too!
At the date of publishing all these Apps are free too! There are options to upgrade and pay for additional services but in the main the base functionality make them more than worthwhile.

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Cycling through a developing obsession

The thing about the bike is, it takes you places you’d ordinarily not pass by car and certainly places you’d never get to by foot in the same time.

As I explore the lands in the search of good coffee and treats to reward thousands of revolutions of the pedals and umpteen calories burned, the things I see do not relent in their sensory applause.

Madhi and the Gutchi, Perpignan France

Madhi and the Gutchi, Perpignan France

It’s almost like train travel, staring out the window, the landscape rushes by but not without the ability to lock in on an object before it vanishes. The same can not be said for the conductor of an auto-mobile.

On these cadence dependent sojourns its apparent I’m developing a new obsession, mildly, but yet another one to add to the list perhaps.

It goes by the name of: MADHI

The style first struck me, a tad Betty Boop maybe? Simple, yet effective and evocative.

Madhi Perpignan France

A cracker of an idea, Ille sur Tet

What really has begun to feed the obsession, beyond the style and simplicity, is the reach of these artists. Across the landscape of the South of France there’s hundreds of kilometres to travel and nary much wall space clear, but there it often is in a faraway place, Madhi’s mural.

Madhi, Perpignan France

Madhi and the local businesses working in tandem

Whatsmore, mostly these street artists share their talent under the lumens of the stars. I guess not so dissimilar to 5am training rides?

Take a night out with Madhi here on Vimeo:

XpoSIT° EvolutiVh – Ep.001 from ИHK on Vimeo.

So not only has the bike delivered coffee and tasty treats but it’s delivered yet another habit, perhaps obsession, the motivation to try a new route, to find another mural, another slice of well-deserved cake.

And as transient as street art is, so too is the lactic.

Madhi, Perpignan France

Cycling may just help you see stars

Here’s a selection of recent favourites across the Pyrenees-Orientales region, France.

Madhi, Perpignan France

A little piece

Madhi, Perpignan France

Here, we sell stuff!

Madhi Perpignan France

On the hop. “Visit on the farm”.

Madhi Perpignan France

Out the back, Ille sur Tet

It’s that time of year – New Bike Syndrome strikes again

The dawn of new season bikes emerges around September and continues through to December each year (and let’s not forget the Nouveau Beaujolais sitting pretty on Nov 15th!). For the southerners, that’s Spring. After which the weather only gets better, along with the range of new bikes becoming available. It’s a difficult time for cycling enthusiasts as the spending cycle increases toward Noel Nirvana.

For the northerners, come winter, it’s three months being wrapped up next to the fire in the ski lodge pouring over the latest glossies (on their tablet mind you), in between gulps of warming liqueurs from bulbous crystal goblets. No less torturous for them as cycling and sun are such distant realities.

New Bike Syndrome
With immunity from New Bike Syndrome (NBS) or ‘Upgrade Fever’ low, what’s the best way to make sure your upgrade is a total winner? Thousands of hours on the steed have made you one with your current love, how can you know the next will be just as passionate?

Enter Bo-Bo, a Beach Rd aficionado (and Engineer) from way back. Not long ago, the conversation topic of NBS intruded on a fast paced 3-hour ride on Melbourne’s best bayside black carpet. He’d been struck by the fever.

Being a technical, scientific type, Bo-Bo knows geometries, angles, carbon-layers, composites, metallurgy and physics. My contribution dabbled around project management speak, pilot tests, baselines, charts and other pleasantries.

One thing that was surely agreed was the overwhelming contribution a wheelset makes to the handling and performance of any bike. It’s on the critical path you might say. The other agreement at 45kph was the preferred choice of wheelset for training, climbing, racing, ie the great all-rounder.

The reason behind going into this is that to compare bikes, particularly frames, a good quality wheelset (including wheels, tyres, tubes) that you’ve ridden for some time will give you the ideal benchmark for testing how the new frame performs. Eliminating the wheelset factor helps focus in on the frame characteristics.

The Pilot Test
It’s a simple test. You’ve spent weeks adoring your new love on the interwebs, sharing stories with friends over coffee, swooning over colours and fighting the need to have a quiet chat with your current love about your unshakeable fever. You know what you want.

One weekend afternoon, you head to your favourite store, you’re already well known by the staff from all those after-work meetings you’ve been attending ‘off-site’. You take your cycling shoes and your wheels from your current bike, maybe even in wheel bags for protection.

Assessment and Impressions
After this morning’s ride you’re feeling a bit guilty about what you’re going to do next, but it’s happening. The first test ride you want to use your current wheels, maybe even the second ride too. This is the critical part of the assessment, initial impressions.

Using your existing bike’s measurements, have the bike set-up as closely as possible to your current position. Rolling out slowly to get settled, this is the time to take note of the impressions compared to your current bike.

Steering – is it heavy or light, twitchy or composed?
Acceleration – fast and snappy or sluggish?
Slow corners – predictable or is it a wrestle?
Fast corners – stable or wallowing?
Taking a few chicanes or esses’s (S’s) – is the change of direction swift like skiing or does timing feel out of sync. Do you feel like you’re ahead or behind where you want the bike to really be?

Ideally perform the test a couple of times to determine whether it’s similar to what you currently enjoy or different, and how that meets with your performance expectations and needs. Perhaps even try across a few different bike models and brands if doubts start to creep in. After texting and instapic-ing all your crew, whack a few notes in your smartphone.

What If?
And don’t worry if your wheels are ‘better’ or ‘not as good’ as the new ones that come with the bike, this is about reducing the influence of variables on your purchase. The same test can be applied in reverse too, use your existing bike to try out a new range of wheels that you’re interested in buying.

A Swift NBS Recovery
Following your various tests, you’ll have a suite of benchmarked test information that’ll go a long way to ensuring the fever doesn’t induce that other affliction, cyclist’s remorse.

It takes a bit of effort, but one hour here or there is a useful set-up for the next 500, 1000 or 2000+ hours you’re going to spend enjoying with your new amore. Now, what colour is it going to be?

Your Experience?
What has your experience been changing bikes? Please let us know how you’ve approached your decision too and whether it worked out as intended.

Thanks to Bo-Bo for that illuminating NBS discussion on Beach Rd. On another ride with Bo-Bo at Bright VIC, the discussion was about compact cranksets and gearing, but that’s for another time…

The best time to start: Now or 20 years ago

There’s a saying that goes:

When’s the best time to plant a tree? Now or 20 years ago.

Le Boulou Cyclocross 2012

Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Championships Flyer

This could not have been better exemplified than at Le Boulou, France on the weekend. Sunday saw the simultaneous running of the regional cyclocross championships across France, the filtration process to identify this years best of the best riders.

Apart from the racing, delicious home-baked gateaux, beer and coffee, was the opportunity to see the early fostering of potential that the Le Boulou Cycling Club supports.

Le Boulou CC Drinks

Drinks at cycling club prices

Le Boulou CC Gateaux

Homemade delicious cakes

Over 200 racers hit the track over the course of the day, but it was the presentation ceremony that provided the crescendo to a swathe of elite performances.

Le Boulou CC Cyclocross 2 Dec 2012

Le Boulou CC Regional Championships Race

The bouquets, medallions and prizes signified varying degrees of success, but for me the real success beyond raceday is the support that the club, families, friends and the region quite obviously provide for creating the stars of 20 years time.

Le Boulou CC Medallions

Raceday Medallions

Le Boulou CC Champions

Tomorrow’s future sports champions?

As the applause rang out and the temperature followed the sun, I thought, there’s no better time than now to start pedalling.

Le Boulou Sunset Winter 2012

Gratuitous sunset photo from the return journey. Worth a pause or two.

Le Boulou CC 2012 Ceremony

Plenty of pageantry

Le Boulou CC Podium

Maybe we can talk about that bouquet…?

Le Boulou CC Podium

If not now, when?

Le Boulou CC Team Car

The Club Team Car, including Tour de France style panel damage

Le Boulou CC Finish Kite 2012

The finish line

Globe-trotting strava cyclists will be into this!

For the Strava / GPS users out there that happen to travel with their bike, you’ll appreciate this little web tool.

By referencing your Strava Rider ID and uploading all your cycling history, this tool will create a global Google map with all your rides. A nice little virtual pin-board to drop in to your next post-ride cafe banter.

Options include:
– Specify Date Range
– Zoom
– Colour / Opacity

The Maarq Plot

Maarq rides on the global map

Showing all Maarq Strava rides via the Garmin 800

Credit to the Dulwich Paragon club for supplying the link.

[Disclosure Statement]
Maarq has no affiliation with Strava, Jonathan O’Keeffe or the Dulwich Paragon Club UK.

Bernard Hinault: Last King of Bikes

Web Snippet:

Dernier Roi du VeloFrom French Television (5) comes this great documentary on Bernard Hinault, “Dernier Roi du Velo” (Last King of Bikes).

Particularly worthwhile is the scene 32’00” to 33’40” from the Tour de France when the Last King is riding in the L’Etape du Coeur ride and the BMC Team come flying by on their TT Bikes, Team Time Trial style with vehicular support.

Some of the BMC team aren’t too happy that the Last King is sitting on. At 57 years of age.

Worth a pass of the eyeball.

Here’s the link again: “Dernier Roi du Velo

NB: It’s in French and without subtitles. Viewing may be restricted in some regions.