As a person who has been in IT and computers for more than 25 years, technology has been one of the biggest motivators for me to continue cycling. Even if you are not into technology, for self-motivation you have to try it!
It’s rare that you will ride without your phone on you so why not use it for your advantage. After hearing about a few options, I downloaded a couple of apps and tried the first one – Runtastic Road Bike.
When you start your ride, you open the app, click “start” or “ride”, put your phone in your pocket and off you go. You can “pause” it if you stop midway or just “stop” when you are done. The key thing is these apps use features on the phone such as GPS to record your time, distance, average speed, top speed, elevation up (meaning how much you rode up hills) and elevation down, plus you can see the whole route and track it on a map.
For those who want to get fitter, many also calculate calories that you have burnt which means if you know you have burnt 500 calories in the morning, you can eat the yummy stuff at night without feeling guilty (and you’ll probably be way ahead of everyone else).
After each ride, you find you will start staring at this info for self indulgence, get impatient if the uploads aren’t happening quick enough and imagine or plan what you have to do next time, and that is the technology benefit. By seeing what you did on the last ride(s), it motivates you to set targets for your next rides.
I look back now and remember the struggle I had to complete 5kms (3miles). I can see my first four rides were 7.1, 5.6, 5.4 and 9.5kms and my average speed started at 16km/h (10mph) whereas 3 rides later, it was 17.9km/h. In four rides, I had increased my speed and distance and I could see it on the screen.
A friend told me the early days were going to be the best, because the advancements were going to be big and with technology, I could see and prove it.
After trying Runtastic, I purchased the Garmin Fit app for 99c and bought a heart rate monitor. Some people use this monitor to track their heart rates and to ride in specific heart rate zones but for us older guys, it also has the benefit of knowing when you are pushing the limits (although the other tell tale sign is you can’t breath).
Lastly, I bought a phone mount and stuck it on the front of the bike so I could see exactly what was happening in real time (speed, heart rate, map, etc). The one I bought had a touch enabled screen which meant I could use it as I rode, and it was water resistant for when it rained.
I also had the music playing which was good because I hate using ear buds as you can’t hear the traffic, so having music in the background worked well and is a lot safer. If you like music when you ride it’s a good option but after the month or so, I found I didn’t need it and preferred the silence. To me, music is good for gymnasiums or repetitive activities whereas when I am cycling, my mind is busy and I concentrate.
So iphone and Garmin Fit was my technology stack but since then, it has changed a lot. Currently, I have spent a few hundred dollars on Garmin technology which includes an advanced dedicated bike specific device with maps (Garmin Edge 810) which came with a cadence sensor (tracks peddle speed) and I live by Strava (it’s free) for my riding review, analysis, self comparisons, friend comparisons, with some social thrown in their as well. If you are interested, I have a link to my Strava in the menu above or here.
If I had one choice only, I would put Strava on my iPhone in my pocket. With two choices, I would take my Edge 810 but more on that in a post later.
For now, I strongly recommend downloading a free app and give it a try. Even if you are running, swimming or mountain biking, they can be used or have similar options.