Are you looking to take your road cycling to the next level? With the right apps and equipment, you can use technology to enhance your rides and track your progress. Here's a high-level look at some of the best road cycling apps and computers on the market. There are so many reviews out there that the purpose of this post is to provide a light-touch intro to the top ones. Feel free to dig further in other resources on t'interweb with any that might take your fancy:
Strava is one of the most popular road cycling apps out there. It allows you to track your rides, see your stats, and compete with friends on leaderboards. Strava also has a feature called "segments" where you can compete for the fastest time on specific stretches of road. To get the most out of Strava, you'll want to invest in a heart rate monitor and a cadence sensor, also. These will allow you to track more data and get a more accurate picture of your rides and progress with your fitness, strenght adn stamina in the saddle.
There is a saying amongst riders that goes, "If it's not on Strava, did it really happen?" You'll understand what this means if you sign up and use it for a few months. Prepare to add 20 minutes to each of your rides. That includes the actual ride and then a further 20 minutes pouring over your data. How fast did I go? How high did I climb? Did I beat my mates on that stretch of road? And much, much (MUCH!) more! You've been warned! 🤪 😂
If you want to bring the fun of outdoor cycling indoors, Zwift is the app for you. It's a virtual cycling game that allows you to ride with others from around the world in virtual, online locations. You can even join structured workouts and training plans. To use Zwift, you'll need a stationary / turbo / smart trainer. These allow your bike to be securely mounted in place so you can ride indoors. They come in a couple of formats:
Wheel on - Where you keep the back wheel of your bike in place and connect it to the machine via a roller. These are often the cheaper options but can still be great for keeping those legs spinning when the weather is too gnarly outside. One thing to watch out for with rollers is the fact they can chew through your back tyre quite quickly with the friction. You can buy special roller tyres but I can't be arsed with: a) changing my tyre every-time I switch between indoor /outdoor, or; b) buying a spare wheel with the indoor tyre on it, and switching the wheel over for indoor riding.
Wheel off /'direct drive' - Where you remove your back wheel and connect your chain to a cassette (gears) that's attached to the actual indoor trainer. These can be pricey but offer a more realistic experience with less hassle. I treated myself to the Wahoo Kikr for my 40th birthday (an increasingly distant memory 😭). A great, compact machine that's easier to store away in the warmer months. There are alternatives out there so do your research before splashing your cash.
Whatever indoor trainer you go for, you'll also need a device to run the Zwift app, such as a phone, tablet, or computer.
Oh. And before I forget. Make sure you have a towel (or 3) and good ventilation in the room you use the machine in. Ideally have a fan blowing on you if you can. You'll quickly learn why I call it 'my pain cave' and you will sweat... Like never before! Again... Don't say I didn't warn you! 🥵
This app is great for route planning. It has a database of millions of routes, so you can find new roads to explore or recreate your favourite rides. MapMyRide also has features for tracking your workouts and seeing your progress over time. To use this app, you'll need a device to run it, such as a phone.
If you're serious about improving your cycling performance, TrainingPeaks is a must-have app. It allows you to create custom training plans and track your progress. You can also connect with a coach to get personalised guidance.
To get the most out of TrainingPeaks, and as with most the apps listed here, you'll want to invest in a heart rate monitor and a cadence sensor. These will allow you to track more data and get a more accurate picture of your rides and track improvements to your stamina and strength etc.
Ride with GPS:
This app is similar to MapMyRide, but it also has features for creating custom routes and waypoints. It also has a feature called "cue sheets" which gives you turn-by-turn navigation for your rides. And similar to MapMyRide, you'll need a phone on you to run it.
This app is specifically designed for use with Garmin cycling computers. It allows you to track your rides, see your stats, and compete with friends on leaderboards. You can also create custom workouts and training plans. To use Garmin Connect, you'll need a Garmin cycling computer and a smart phone to run their app.
Speaking of cycling computers, let's take a quick look at some of the best / most popular technology out there:
The Garmin Edge is a top-of-the-line cycling computer with a wide range of features. Some might even say 'too many for absolute beginners.' It has GPS tracking, turn-by-turn navigation, and the ability to connect to a variety of sensors. It also has a colour screen and a long battery life. I think of Garmin like Android. If you've comfortable tinkering with your tech / a bit of a geek (like I am!) then Garmin might be a better option for you.
Lezyne Super GPS:
The Lezyne Super GPS is a budget-friendly option that still has a lot of features. It has GPS tracking, turn-by-turn navigation, and the ability to connect to a variety of sensors. It also has a colour screen and a long battery life as well.
No matter what your goals are, there's a road cycling app and computer out there that can help you achieve them. By using technology to enhance your rides, you can track your progress, find new routes, and even compete with others. I really can't explain how much a cycling app and computer opened up my cycling world. For the first couple of months into my cycling I was happy to ride local roads and routes. But as I got more confident and experienced the 'same old' got boring rather quickly. Enter an app and cycling computer stage left and BLAMMO! It was as though I fell down a rabbit hole into a road cycling wonderland I'd never have been able to experience if it wasn't for the tech.
So why wait? Start using one of these top road cycling apps and computers today and take your road cycling to the next level! Whether you're a beginner looking to get started or an experienced rider looking to improve your performance, these tools will help you reach your goals and make the most of your rides. So don't hesitate, try out one of these apps and computers today and see how they can help you get the most out of your cycling.
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