Your cycling expertise may be confined to watching the Tour de France on television, but if you're keen to hop on a bike and feel those leg muscles pumping, what you really need are a few key apps, whether you're looking to track your rides, master your indoor cycling or find a fitness buddy to go for a sprint with.
(Or at least out of bed).
We all know cycling is good for us in lots of ways: it keeps us fit, saves us money on petrol/Tube journeys, gives us the mental headspace we need and makes our calves look like Chris Froome’s (well, kinda).
It’s also a super sociable activity, that you can enjoy with friends and family – just look at those Tour de France sprint teams racing over the Pyrenees.
Now, every cyclist knows you need a few key accessories to get you going: a decent bike, protective helmet and safety bike light (is everyone as obsessed with projection laser light Blaze as we are?).
And, of course, you need some useful cycling apps to get you motivated. Here are some of our faves…
Strava Running and Cycling GPS, Free, iTunes and Google Play (upgrade to Premium for £45/year)
Widely considered the definitive app for cyclists, Strava does more than traditional tracking, adding a competitive edge to each bike ride and ensuring that every time you mount your cycle, you’re hoping to be better – and faster – than others who have pounded that same pavement (we also have a list of the best running apps for the avid sportsman among you). Strava syncs to most GPS devices like your iPhone, Apple Watch or other wearable.
Bike Citizens, Free, iTunes
Calling all urban cyclists. Bike Citizens is designed with the city-dweller in mind, helping you discover the most cycle-friendly routes through your city. Bike Citizens also works to promote cycling infrastructure in cities, to help get more people off their bums and onto their bikes.
Biko, Free, iTunes
If you need your cycle ride to come with a side of extra motivation (read: bribery), then Biko’s the app for you. Every time you ride 1km, you redeem 1 Biko – earn enough Bikos and trade in for your daily caffeine hit or six-pack. One downside? It’s only in 10 cities at the moment and none of them are in the UK. So use it next time you travel to the USA (and make the most of Feel At Home, aka no roaming charges awesomeness, while you’re out there).
If you subscribe to the notion that working out is a social occasion as much as an opportunity to break a sweat, then WellSquad – also known as the Tinder for finding a workout buddy – helps you match with your ideal fitness partner to boost your next cycle ride. Science backs this up: a 2012 study published in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine found that when we work out with someone we feel is ‘better’ than us, it leads to 200 percent increases in intensity and time spent exercising. Now where’s Laura Trott when we need her?
Cyclemeter, Free, iTunes and Google Play (from £9.49 for the Elite upgrade)
From route mapping to a calendar feature to help you stay motivated, Cyclometer is a comprehensive app that tracks your rides through stats, graphs and steps. Geeky and gamified, it’s a winner.
Fill That Hole, Free, iTunes
Potholes are the scourge of every cyclist. This satisfying app, created by CTC, the national cycling charity, lets you report them to the local authority with a few taps – the authority will likely have them filled within a week. Feels almost as good as getting on the actual bike…
100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, £5.99, iTunes
One to motivate and inspire, this is one of the great cycling apps that links to Strava and shows you all the soaring mountains and rolling hills to cycle along across the UK. Perfect for your summer hols in Cornwall, Scotland and the like.
Zwift, Free, iTunes (from £9.49/month to go unlimited)
This indoor cycling app is gorgeous, gamified and social, allowing you to connect with riders from around the world. Cool graphics take you from an Italian villa to a volcano to London’s busy streets, and it syncs to Apple Health so you can track your data.
Main pic: Unsplash via Troy Oldham