The first bicycle was invented back in 1817, so humans managed to go the best part of 200 years using them before smartphones and their fancy apps came along. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value in using a smartphone to enhance your riding experience, in fact, it has become incredibly popular among cyclists over the last few years.
This is especially true if you’re planning a long-distance ride that is likely to span several days and require you to stop off in multiple places along the way.
So if you’re planning a big trip on two wheels, consider loading up your phone with some of these apps.
Navigation is one of the top uses for smartphones, not even just among cyclists. Pretty much everyone will have used Google Maps and for good reason as it is a great all-rounder navigation app. It even offers cycling-specific directions which can come in handy when getting around in towns and cities.
However, it may not always be the best option for when you’re planning a long-distance route. Instead, you might want to consider Komoot, Bikemap, and Bike Citizens. They all offer more bike-focused information and can better prioritise routes that are cycle-friendly. Komoot even includes information like the surface of the route you’ve planned so you know whether it is going to be suitable for your bike before you even get there.
Of course, if you really love using old-fashioned paper maps, a digital backup may still come in handy in case you get lost.
Sure, you won’t need any entertainment while you’re riding, but you will for when you’re spending your evenings in your hotel or campsite. This is where your smartphone really shines as it’s packed with a plethora of options, including music, movies, books, and podcasts. Provided you can get an internet signal, apps like Netflix and Spotify are great for streaming content that you probably won’t be able to get on your hotel’s television.
The mobile gaming experience has also come on leaps and bounds over the last few years and the variety and quality of smartphone games have increased dramatically. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of casual titles like Angry Birds and Farmville, AAA brands like Call of Duty, Forza, and Fortnite have also made it onto iOS and Android.
Online casinos are also a popular option thanks to their extensive selection of options, including multiple variants of classic table games and thousands of video slots. Innovation in slot gaming has led to the creation of the unique Megaways mechanic which varies the number and order of symbols on each reel to increase the number of paylines which adds variety and excitement to these games.
With so many options, entertainment during your time off the bike is covered, no matter what you enjoy.
Cycling is very safe, but it’s always a good idea to take precautions. After all, you don’t intend on falling off your bike, but you still wear a helmet, just in case.
Mobile apps can help improve your safety while you ride in several key ways.
The amusingly-named Fill That Hole is an app that lets you report potholes in roads that could cause a danger to cyclists. It also lets you see where other users have reported them so you can be on the lookout.
Another great app is Flare, a personal safety app designed for people engaging in various outdoor activities, including cycling. It detects if you’ve been involved in a fall or an accident by using your phone’s accelerometer. If you don’t respond or move within 30 seconds of the app detecting an incident, it will automatically send your location to a list of pre-defined emergency contacts. There’s also an SOS feature so you can alert other users and/or your emergency contacts.
The precision location app what3words is also a handy app for cyclists to have as it allows you to find very specific places that most normal navigation tools can’t pinpoint, but it also gives you the ability to give rescuers better information so they can find you in an emergency. Many UK police, ambulance, and fire services are implementing what3words so that you can give your three-world address to call handlers so they can find you.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.