I find it hard to believe what remarkably good applications are available for free these days.
Last year, after the cheap speedo/odometer on my bike started to play up, I thought I’d try something different. I’d already indulged in a low cost android smart phone – a Vodafone Smart 3, so I tried looking through the Google Play Store and came across Strava.
Although the interface now looks blindingly obvious, it initially took me a couple of goes before I worked it out. Strava records the co-ordinates from GPS signals a few times per second and uses these to calculate your position and speed. When the ride is over the data is uploaded and you can review the route laid over a google map or satellite image. The route is highly likely to be divided into many segments defined by people who have gone that way before and in each segment you can compare your time against everyone else, or the people you follow or against your own previous times.
Strava awards KOMs/QOMs (King/Queen of the Mountain) ) for the fastest male or female riders over a particular segment. I did hold the KOM for a few months for a segment over which very few – a dozen or less – people had travelled, but these are likely to be way out of my reach. Strava also keeps track of your personal records for a particular segment – I find this highly motivating and often can’t resist trying a bit harder over known segments – especially if there is a chance of the wind giving a helping hand.
At the beginning of this year I changed over to using a Garmin Forerunner 305 to record the GPS data along with heart rate data. The Garmin is like a large watch and much easier to use when I go jogging rather than cycling. When jogging I also need to push myself a bit more and need the pace and heart rate information as I’m going along.
At some point I’ll upgrade to the premium (and paid for) version of Strava. I’ve appreciated it enough to pay something back and being able to compare myself against people in my own age group rather than some serious athletes should give me a better idea of how I’m doing.
In the meantime my last rides/runs recorded on Strava …