I recently purchased a bike with the aim to start cycling and get fit for summer, for which I haven’t ridden since I was a child. I’m a single mother of two, and whilst my six year old daughter is at school, I have this idyllic daydream of taking my two year old son cycling to parks and visiting friends and family for picnics in the sunshine. I purchased a child seat, helmet and everything that I needed to get started, but then I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I can track my journeys and work out how far we’ve travelled and how we progress. Well, apparently there’s already an app for that, and it’s called Strava.
Strava is a magical free mobile app which I downloaded straight from the app store to my iPhone5 last night in preparation for our bike ride today. It’s a genius and incredibly straight-forward little tracker that can map running and cycling routes, stats and chart your progress to share across social media. I am using it for it’s cycling function as I’ve never tried road running yet, I doubt my sons little legs would enable him to keep up with me and I don’t fancy smashing a pushchair up and down curbs whilst trying to keep rhythm in a run. It’s super easy to use Strava, as all you have to do is hit the record button when you’re ready to set off, and the app marks your live progress on a map just like a satnav, tracking your distance, time, and even feet climbed. You can ride everywhere and anywhere that you like, knowing that your phone is counting all of the data for you, so there’s no more looking through maps and measuring distance with a ruler and squares when you get home to try and calculate how far you think you’ve travelled.
As I want to enter my first ever 15mile bike ride next month for a local charity, I set off today with my cheerful son and the aim of cycling to the next town and back to compare the distance to that of the charity run, deducing whether I would be capable of taking part with such minimal training and experience. We peddled along leafy cyclepaths, through housing estates, up hills and over roundabouts until eventually returning home. When I removed my phone from my pocket I was amazed to see that we’d covered a whopping 11.4miles, not bad for our first ever cycle and a great omen for the charity ride. You get your own profile in the app so that you can share your progress with others and compare your results each week, annually and a running total as you go. There’s an activities section which allows you to name and log each ride as well as leave comments, feedback and share it to your social media profiles to challenge and compete with others.
I have a feeling that Strava will very quickly become my new best friend for fitness, and I’m so glad that it’s available and more importantly free for all. The only feature I would request them to add is a weather app to track adverse conditions and warn you before you cycle too far away from home; we left the house in glorious sunshine but by the time we reached our peak, we got hit by horrendous rain and a thunderstorm for which we could only race home as fast as possible to escape. You’ve got to love British weather haven’t you!
If you’ve used the Strava app please feel free to leave your comments and feedback below. What do you use it for, running or cycling? What has been your best record to date and what is your favourite feature?