Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a gadget-weenie. I love finding new things to do with technology. I have two different cycling computers on my road bike when I hit the pavement – one is a CatEye, the other is a Garmin Edge 205. I like both of the computers for different reasons – the CatEye is primarily used for me to watch the gears I’m in and the speed I’m going.
The Garmin is tied into a GPS – and I liked that to upload the routes I completed (though I rarely took the time to do this). Mostly, I’d use it to see the percent grade I was climbing. This was to the detriment of my best friend. He hates when I tell him we’re riding up a 7% grade. He says he’d rather not know (though I think he’s just as proud knowing the grade as I am).
If those two cycling computers weren’t enough, I happened onto the MapMyRide app for my smartphone some time ago – and I started using it a year or so ago. It’s a pretty slick set-up and super easy to use. I have the free version and found that it is more than sufficient for my needs. I use it mainly for simple recording of my route. It’s as simple as pushing the big orange RECORD button at the top of the screen. At the end of the ride, I just hit STOP and it calculates the route, the calories burned and a number of other stats that you can customize to suit your taste.
You can even set up the app to automatically post to Twitter or Facebook – not that the majority of your friends will care if you rode or not. But, let’s face it – a completed ride is more impressive than the rump roast they’re cooking and decided to tell all of their friends (but I digress…). There’s even a way that you can post when you start the ride (though I think that this feature is only available on the paid app) – so that others can cheer you on. I’m not really sure how that would work – and I haven’t tried the feature – but I doubt I’d have many people cheering me on anyway (and, let’s face it, it’s a little weird to know you’re being tracked while you’re riding).
If you do have cycling buddies who are also signed up for the app, you can “friend” them through the app. I know… I know…. not another friend-thing. Turns out, this one is low maintenance. There’s nothing really active you need to do – unless you want to. I have my app set up to alert me whenever one of my friends completes a workout. It’s kind of motivating to hear that alert come through (ok – I’ll admit – my brother is one of my friends on the app – and I curse him every time I hear he completed another workout when I didn’t do one). That’s motivation!
The other nice feature I like is that you can search for Routes that others have done – and it’s easy to find a “Nearby” route no matter where you are. The app automatically shows the distance from your current location. If you find one you like, you just click the “Do It” button at the top of the screen and you get to “compete” with the person who uploaded it. When I used this feature, I had a little bit of a problem discerning which way the other rider had first traveled – but I was able to figure it out as I went. You can set it up to get emails if someone beats your record, too – to motivate you to go out and pedal harder the next time.
I don’t think you can go wrong at all with this app. It’s easy to download, sign up and use! If you’re the type who likes to pre-map new routes at home, you would have to spring for the paid version, but I don’t think the price tag is too bad. Here’s a link to their website: www.mapmyride.com.