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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Navi-what? Navigarminating. Find your ride.

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Traveling light with my bicycle, Sci-con styleDo you have a certain penchant for travel? I do, especially with my devoted companion, my bicycle. When traveling however, it’s not always easy to find that local training ride or get to the top of that secret single-track, or in fact meet a knowledgeable local to ride with. Here is possibly a fast-track to resolving that problem, well before someone floats ‘BikeBook’ on the stock exchange that is…

JC, Double-barrelled training partnerMy training pal, JC, put me onto this wonderful and simple technology solution. Keen to discover new trails and potential new courses, he led the way in my tutelage. The tools required in this scenario are: a GPS device (mine’s a Garmin), computer with internet access, a Strava account and a willingness to search on-line. I’ve labeled this wonderful solution “navigarminating”.

Here I’ll give you the how, the directions aren’t bathed in precision, but the method is the key. And it gets better than merely finding a course to cycle, you might just find that local expert to ride with too…

The broad guidance given here assumes you’ve connected your GPS device to your PC, have fired up a browser, are connected to the internet and over time you’ve acquired some familiarity with sites like GaminConnect or Strava.

GUIDANCE
1. At the PC
– Using your preferred GPS database (Strava ‘Activity Search’ chosen here) search for and select the route you like and want to download.
– In this search the parameters are: Port Vendres; MTB riding; 30-60kms distance; 3-4hrs duration, and; more than 1000m of altitude gain.

20121031 Strava Search Clip

The first item in the list above looks promising, so that ride is selected and now appears below.
20121031 Strava Ride Clip_1
20121031 Strava Ride Clip_2
It can be seen from the ride detail that there’s a few climbs, the rider achieved a few KOM’s (so he must go alright one would think). He didn’t pause much (“Elapsed Time” less “Time”) and the route goes in the area I wish to target. So, I decide to choose this ride as my one to follow…

2. On the Web – Using an interface such as Cosmo Catalano’s Strava Ride Exporter, copy the ride URL / web address and have the site prepare the file for download to your PC and GPS device.
20121031 Cosmo Ride Clip_1

3. PC to Device – Download the file and transfer it to your Device (simple instructions here via mapmytracks and alternate instructions via ridewithgps here for Edge800 device)
20121031 Cosmo Ride Clip_2

4. Device Ready – Fire up your device, load the route and get ready to ride
Edge 800 Go!Edge 800 Ready to Ride

5. Navigate to the start, or just get to part of the route that is closest to you
Edge 800 Navigate to start?

6. Follow the route merrily
Ready to navigate! Or navigarminate perhaps?
Navigating the route, blue line is my trace, purple line the one to follow.

Optional Steps
a.
Type a comment on the ride to the owner and potentially query them on the ride specifics, or
b. Simply thank them for uploading their ride because you now are better informed, or
c. Ask them if they’d be interested in going for a ride. Be polite, not a stalker.

A pretty pause south of Tour Madeloc
Location: A pause after climbing the Vermeille, France

Personally I like the Strava-Cosmo-Garmin interface, it’s relatively simple and particularly with Strava I’ve found the people I’ve contacted very helpful and willing. It’s also global. What’s more with Strava’s metrics, you’re able to get a fair idea about the difficulty of the ride based on the suffer scores etc and before you decide to ask someone to go cycling, you can get a fair idea about how fit they are given their kms/hours per week and amount of KOM/Segments etc. Useful tools!

Towards Banyuls-sur-Mer
Looking towards Banyuls-sur-Mer, France

Now, it’s true there are a multitude of sites out there available offering Bunch-ride finder services, Cycling-Buddies, GPS traces and other GPS Exploring facilities but I’ve not found one to date that really delivers on what I’ve been looking for across continents. This UK site has great technology and interface qualities, I really like it, but it is limited in its geography. Many cycling social-sites based on the Ning platform have also come close but having a centralised resource aids in quicker identification of the desired route. Garmin offers a new social service similar to Strava but personally after many attempts I just can’t bring myself to be a fan of their search function. One more I haven’t yet tried is this, but it looks okay.

Up to Tour Madeloc
Location: Up to Tour Madeloc, France

Chilly in the autumn afternoon in the south of France
A chilly autumn afternoon in southern France. Never mind the 120kph wind either…


Pleasant rocky singel-track abutting vineyards
Location: Descending loose and very rocky single-track abutting beautiful vineyards, Port Vendres, France

To taper off, the final benefit of all this navigarminating business… With the ride example above, I had intended to take the full tour, however after three punctures, fading light and declining zest I was able to re-route back to the start for a hastened short-cut back to base. It doesn’t show on the route data, but the last 3kms were ridden on a flat tyre and it involved a straight heading for vertical descent hike-a-bike style through two vineyards, a leap across a creek and a whip past the mangey dog.

The moon rises over Port Vendres and singletrack disappears
Re-route time as daylight quickly gives way to the moon’s approach.

All thanks to navigarminating. Thanks JC!

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