I’ve been trying out a few cycle apps recently and thought I’d share some of my findings in case anyone else was thinking of giving them a try. Now this isn’t going to be really technical. I’ll just tell you about my personal experience with the apps on my android phone.
I suppose the first thing the average commuter cyclist would think about when I talk about using cycling apps is, “Why would I?” and to be fair most commuters probably wouldn’t be all that interested in tracking miles and speeds etc.
I got into doing it when an online forum I’m a member of made a club on Strava and I tried that out as a way of being social. I was able to log my rides and share the info with the others in the group and comment on their rides. At first I quite liked this, however really quickly I actually started to feel uncomfortable as these guys were logging 100 mile “training” rides and I was adding my little commute to work everyday. I felt like somehow I wasn’t doing enough and had to keep up with them.
So from that point of view, the whole using an app to share your cycling info didn’t really work for me, but as I found out later it was more about the group I was sharing with, they were a completely different type of cyclist using the app for a whole different purpose.
The actual app itself though I found to be quite good. It seemed to be quite accurate at working out my mileage and wasn’t overly complicated to use.
There was one downside however – I discovered that this app actually hammered my internet allowance on my phone, so I very quickly stopped using it.
Now the app PleaseCycle was a whole different kettle of fish. It is specifically to encourage folk to use a bike for their daily commute and so has much less in the way of “training” info and much more about encouraging you to get on your bike.
I used it in conjunction with Cycling Scotland’s push to get folk onto their bikes and was able to log rides against my employer and see who else from work was cycling and there was even a wee league table. One of the other features I really liked was that it gave you achievements to work towards and automatically logged your rides against them. They weren’t anything serious but just a fun way to encourage you to get on your bike.
My achievements I’m most proud of were.
Like I said just daft stuff but it actually did encourage me because they were silly, fun and not serious and I liked the fact that it was something I was doing with colleagues from work, felt a bit like us against the other companies.
The actual app itself I found to be really good. The logging my cycles feature seemed to be pretty accurate and it isn’t all cluttered up with stuff I didn’t need. It basically just logs how long you cycled for and how far. The other bits and pieces like the achievements are on the website which you log into.
So all in all, if you just want a wee bit of encouragement I would whole-heartedly recommend this app especially if you want to use it with friends and have a bit of fun.
I’m actually using this app just now – not to share data but more to encourage me and make my laziness redundant.
I have found that since switching to use the cycle path rather than the road (read more about that here) I have become quite lazy and tend to pootle away rather than actually put any effort in. So in a bit to rectify that and help with my fitness I am using the mapmyride app and it’s features for recording speed and mileage as well as calories burned. I’m using the app with the voice feedback so I can hear what speed I am doing or have been doing and can set myself targets that I try to achieve. I don’t share any of this info, it’s just for personal use but I have to say I am very impressed.
It seems to be quite accurate and the app is really simple to use and navigate. More importantly I’m finding that it isn’t really using much of my mobile data at all.
The calorie burn on it seems to be based on time and distance and gives you a figure based on average speed but the feature I like most is that it syncs with another fitness app I use to help me try to lose weight and it syncs my exercise with that app.
So far I’m liking it and I will probably keep using it for a time yet as I have found that my speed and fitness have improved.
I may very well go back to using the PleaseCycle app at some point if we do more in the way of that kind of thing with work because I did really enjoy it. If that happens, I’ll tell you all about it.