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App And Wearable For Cycling

When a bike ride is not just moving from one point to another but also the “how” to do it. Then it becomes essential to record the experience to remember and share the path and to give a memory of the emotions experienced. A bicycle is a beautiful machine created for low-cost urban transport. In the meantime, it has been cleared as a zero-impact leisure object capable of bringing us closer to the environment with healthy physical exercise. Bicycles have become technologically sophisticated in terms of materials and solutions adopted, paving the way for off-road routes within everyone’s reach thanks to the innovation of electric motorization. 

Thus was born the desire to immortalize the experience by going beyond the panoramic photos and the inevitable selfie near the goal achieved with difficulty. For this purpose, the market offers a wide range of solutions capable of tracing the paths by associating the photos and all the recorded parameters and making them truly “memorable” as they are recorded in one or more areas of the great memory of the Web. This new way of living the cycling experience and its recording tools ends with the most well-known platforms for sharing parameters, images, and routes.

The Recording Tools

Let’s start with the activity recording tool, which can be one of the many smartwatches or a simple bracelet equipped with an advanced recording system to collaborate with the phone as an intermediate element of experience processing. Activity files are the most used means of transferring tracking data to platforms, and their most popular formats are typical .tcx, .fit, or .gpx. It is worth noting that even the applications on the phone can trace the route, but we do not recommend it because this would accelerate the discharge process of its battery,  which is not advisable during a hike.

The Apple smartwatch has paved the way for this crossover of functionality with a product of undoubted value in terms of look not aimed at a specific sport but general well-being. The Apple Fitness + service allows you to marry the instrument with a personalized program of activities,  including dance and meditation, by emulating a virtual trainer. Cycling can undoubtedly be one of them, but its performance could not satisfy the most sophisticated palates. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Is another example of an elegant and inexpensive instrument that, in addition to measuring heart rate and pressure, can transmit the route and parameters of cycling performance to the phone with a command. 

The accompanying application, Samsung Health, is available on Android but also on the Apple store and allows you to view the experience already on the phone with similar features offered by the website. As for cycling, it can import a track as a file in GPX format, allowing the live playback of a personal route or shared by others.  The reverse process, i.e., exporting the route in GPX format, is still possible from the app, but only the average and maximum heart rate values are extracted. The pedaling rhythm is also not extracted.

To make a cycling activity on the road or off-road truly shareable and historicized, it is necessary to go beyond recording the position and vital parameters via GPS by accessing more prosperous functions. It becomes essential to record the “track” in a format that can be shared with others and reproduced to act as a navigator. These functions can be found in sports watches from sports-oriented brands such as Garmin, Suunto, and Polar. Their aesthetic characteristics make them immediately distinguishable from their peers, more attentive to fashion than an intense sporting activity.

To provide an idea of ​​the experience they can offer, we will refer to a simple budget model from Garminbut we keep in mind that the superior models of the same brand and the correspondents of the competitors offer similar functionality if not excellent. Its simple setup allows you to calibrate the watch on the owner’s characteristics (height, weight, age), allowing you to obtain other measures by projection, such as the calculation of calories consumed. It is also possible to define the thresholds for the alarms on heart pulsations detected with the appropriate chest strap. 

Charging the batteries can allow shorter or longer recordings depending on the model. Once the activity recording has started, in the event of stops, the recording automatically goes to stand-by to reactivate when restarting. Once you have saved the trip and returned home, using the same accessory as the charging, you can connect the watch to the PC and, using the Garmin Express Windows application, automatically download the recording on the Garmin Connect site so that on the personal page created activity is visible. Once the movie is made available, it becomes possible to characterize it by indicating the router’s name and the type of bicycle used.

The route is presented on a map highlighting the travel speed with color and offering a play button to show the progress. The app faithfully represents the same event but with the limitations of the mobile device. The accompanying photographs can be inserted directly from the phone or the PC. The activity remains stored together with the others, creating an entire historical archive that highlights the performance accumulated over time in terms of speed, slope, heart rate, and cadence. These aspects allow you to evaluate your performance and recognize how the body reacts to the sustained effort.

Sharing Tools

This way, a historical archive is created, which helps review one’s performance on the various routes according to the training frequency. Exporting the route in an appropriate format (TCX, GPX, Google Earth) allows for broader sharing with your own devices and those of others. Especially in cycling, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the route well in advance to be able to prepare appropriately. An excellent tool helpful for this purpose is Wikiloc which can be configured to know the sources from which to acquire the track loaded by accessing the setting functions from its web page. 

Wikiloc is a social sharing platform of paths documented by traces, photographs, and indications. In this way, it can also be used in reverse: having identified an interesting track in its vast library equipped with social functions, this can be exported and then followed with a “navigation” function that indicates mileage, elevation gain, and difficulty. Wikiloc goes even further by allowing you to “design” a new track by building it as broken on the map and offering us the indications of extension and elevation to better plan the preparation and timing of the activity. 

After the registration and sharing of the technical data, it is also nice to show everyone, in a more intuitive and – why not – spectacular way, the route taken and the most beautiful photos taken. To do this, the Relive app can help. Once the account has been created and connected to the recording platform to acquire the track automatically, Relive allows you to build a short video of how the activity took place, punctuating it with short breaks to show the best shots. Relive can be the simplest and fastest solution thanks to the direct path recording function if we are not interested in the parameters but only in the path and images. 

In this way, an event is immediately available to customize by placing labels and pictures. Through the paid version, it becomes possible to access more functions such as saving the video, inserting videos, and a more significant number of photographs. In any case, it is possible to share the video on social networks. By accessing Relive from the web interface, interactive navigation of the route is also possible, similar to the experience of Google Maps. Like Wikiloc, Relive also offers a social mode to follow others in their experiences and allow comments and comparisons.

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