Route/workout apps?

I’ve been using Map My Run to record my rides. It is possible to edit a “run” to show “cycling” and it recalculates the calories burned. It offers a voice update every 1/4 mile and shows split times and average speeds for each full mile. It’s free.

On the other hand, it is not awfully accurate. On a unicycle ride the other day it showed me zig zagging 100 yards each side of the road and averaging over 20 mph for a full mile. This meant that my total distance and average speed for the ride were unreliable. I guess it’s because of poor reception in that area.

I do have an issue with the way it works things out. I did two rides on my bicycle today, slightly different routes in opposite directions. A was at the top of a hill and B was at the bottom, and I took a long route from B to A (uphill) than from A to B (downhill) and yet, presumably because I was going faster, it said I’d used more calories on the shorter downhill route!

I know other similar apps are available. Assuming that I don’t want to pay a fee, which s the best and why? I will be using for walks, runs, unicycle and bicycle rides (and sometimes sailing!) in the UK.

Hot tip: when you’re sailing, you sit still and hold a string in one hand and a stick in the other, and according to Map My Run, you burn no end of calories.

Hi Mike

I use samsung health on my phone. If your not on a samsung phone ignore this
However if you are on samsung give it a go it gives you audio stats every mile ie how many miles done how many remaining average speed pace etc. I really like it and have used it from day one it uploads to Strava however stats are always slightly different ie if 11mph on samsung health by the time it gets to strava it is more likely to be 10.5. You also get a weekly update comparing stats from the previous week stops you slacking. For a free app its great.

Regards Phil

I upload to Strava but I use a Garmin device to capture the rides. I used to use the app but I had a lot of trouble with battery life on my phone, so I prefer to seperate the duties off to different devices now :smiley:

If you want accurate calorie measurement then you really need a heart rate monitor and/or a power meter. Power meters are expensive and you’ll have a hard time finding one which works on a unicycle off the shelf, so a HRM is the most practical option.

You can get wrist-based optical HRMs or the ones that use a chest straps. The chest strap ones are a bit less convenient to wear but far more reliable than the optical ones.

I have a Wahoo Tickr which is fairly cheap and works well. It transmits on both Bluetooth and Ant+ so it can be connected to pretty much any phone and cycling computer. Garmin, Polar, Lezyne and others make similar models. The main thing to check is that they use the right link for your receiver (Bluetooth if you want to use your phone).

Once you have a HRM paired to your phone then most of the apps will be pretty good. If you don’t care about the social aspect then Wahoo Fitness is not a bad choice as it’s completely free with no restrictions (they make their money selling hardware, not software). Otherwise take your pick of the online apps (Map My Run/Ride/Fitness, Endomondo, Strava etc).

I should note that I’m usually too lazy to actually wear my HRM :p.

Oh, on the GPS track accuracy, I found that my phone would sometimes zig zag when it was trying to be clever about saving power. I put a dedicated GPS (Lezyne Super GPS) on my 36er and disabled the power save option so that it just records the GPS position once a second without trying to be clever. That seems to be more reliable and still gets decent battery life (~24 hours continuous recording).

I don’t think the GPS hardware in phones is necessarily less accurate than a standalone GPS device, it’s just that the apps don’t have direct access to the hardware. Instead the OS sits in between, playing tricks in the name of extending the battery runtime.

I use Strava, now just on my Apple Watch. Before, I had to run it on the phone, and didn’t get any feedback from it because I don’t mount my phone to the uni or otherwise try to look at it while riding. Now, the Apple Watch 2 can record the whole ride without needing the phone, and uploads it via your phone later on. I bring my phone with me anyway, but having it on the watch means I can glance down and see my speed, heartrate (with the watch; a dedicated heart monitor would give better data), and other stuff like what time it is.

The Apple Watch 3 is cellular on its own, and can record and upload your whole ride.

The cool thing about Strava is that location data is (anonymously) gathered from all users. so if other people ride in the same places you do, your track will be compared with all the other existing data about where your trail or route goes, which makes for a more accurate track. This happens in the background, I think after your data gets uploaded to the site.

I am Strava “friends” with Nathan Hoover, Kris Holm and a small group of other people so we can see each other’s rides. This is probably even more interesting if your Strava friends live nearby, and ride in the same places you do. :slight_smile:

Before Strava, I had Garmin devices. I still have the data from those rides, dating back to before Ride The Lobster, and someday I will supposedly upload it all to Strava. Not sure if that’s going to happen before or after I edit my video footage from early Muni events in 1999 and 2000…

Garmin Vivoactive HR

I use a Garmin Vivoactive HR rechargeable watch. It seems to have a respectable optical pulse monitor and GPS receiver. The battery seems to live up its specification of running for 13hrs when the GPS is being used or a week if not.

Basically, after a ride (or few) one “syncs” the watch to Garmin Connect (on a Cell phone) or Garmin Express (On a computer) to upload your ride data. You can set an auto link between Garmin and Strava so that when a ride (or swim, walk, run) is uploaded to Garmin it fairly quickly gets resent to Strava.

It’s nice to see exactly where you rode and to track your cardio time in different heart rate zones. This helps in judging how much exercise you get. I don’t know about you but I like getting a good cardio, balance subsystem and leg workout in spite of having fun.

I believe my watch has been superseded by the Vivoactive 3.

Terry O’Leary

I use an iOS app called Cyclemeter primarily because it’s the first one I found in the app store. It works well enough for my needs. It tracks/displays the route on a map which I like, but I find that the statistics are unreliable. I allegedly hit 29.99 mph on my 36er today, sure didn’t feel like it ;). I was thinking about attaching a dedicated tracking device to my uni. Several folks mentioning Garmin here, seems like the big name in the game?

As well as Garmin there are Wahoo, Polar, Lezyne, Bryton, Sigma and probably others.

Garmin have a reasonable range from low to high end but have a reputation for releasing buggy firmware and being very slow to fix it. “Big company problems” if you like.

Wahoo are mainly mid-high end (they do have a lower end computer but it has a few gotchas and is not for everyone). They were touted as Garmin killers because some of their units matched the midrange Garmins in features but for a lower price and fewer bugs. Garmin have responded with some new models and pricing. Responsive with firmware updates and fixing problems.

Polar were early innovators with heart rate monitors and their computers look ok but don’t really stand out to me. I haven’t played with one in person so YMMV.

Lezyne are mid level and competitively priced. The units have a face only a mother could love but the functionality is good. Good with support and pretty good with firmware updates, although maybe not as responsive as Wahoo.

Bryton are low-mid level with very competitive pricing. The UI is not terribly intuitive IMO and they have a few other quirks like the fact that the serial number of the device is permanently registered to you and so can never be sold or given away. Great battery life is one of their selling features.

Sigma make a few GPS computers but they are more basic than some of the other brands listed above. Also AFAIK they require plugging into a PC to sync data, whereas most of the others have the ability to do so over bluetooth or wifi. Wireless syncing is a killer feature IMO.

There are probably lots of others but those are the options that spring to mind. Personally I have a Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS on my 36er (I didn’t get the Special Edition Enhanced Super GPS as I felt I already had enough superlatives in my life). It was about half the price of an equivalent Garmin or Wahoo with a far better battery life. Works for me :D.

I use a Polar M 430 watch. It reliably synces with my phone and the Polar website. The watch doesn’t do everything but what it does do, it does well. I only have to charge it once a week. It has a higher end heartrate monitor anda high GPS sample rate which can be lowered for ultra marathons. It has a daily alarm. I wear it while sleeping and it vibrates to wake me up. It’s nice that the watch doesn’t necessarily need the phone to operate. If I understand correctly, however, some information such as elevation is created only after sending GPS data to the cloud, and that requires I eventually connect with my phone.

Yeah Garmin are pretty much the Kleenex of the GPS world, but the other brands have great offerings too.

I’ve actually got a cheap GPS watch I got from Aldi of all places, that even came with an HRM, that I’ve had some really good results with. It only displays numbers and letters (so no mapping like my Edge Touring, not even breadcrumb) but if all you want to do is track your rides and train to heart rate zones it’s awesome.

As said above, Garmin software is pretty buggy sometimes. I use my Touring when I do long rides like 50-65 mile sportive type things (I tend to fly solo, so don’t want to get lost), and if you deviate from the route even slightly (For example, last week I went round a roundabout the wrong way due to the cycle path) it’ll throw a tantrum. It’s also pretty bulky and looks a bit daft on my handlebars due to its size, whereas the cheap Aldi watch just looks like a slightly childish, colourful watch :smiley:

Using a Smartphone/Smartwatch is probably a far better idea assuming you already have one these days, now that the watches are functional enough to cover everything - the only thing to worry about is battery life (And whether or not you want Apple/Google stalking you via GPS all day :smiley: )

I use Strava too. I happen to use the Wahoo app and manually upload to Strava later, but you don’t have to. I also use the Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor which is great.

The thing I love about Strava is that there are some unicycle clubs like UniTE and UniTE-1 (Unicycle The Earth). I travel a bit and have met up with people who I know from the Strava unicycle community. One was in Adelaide Australia, on the other side of the world! Also these clubs have weekly distance and elevation gain leaderboards.

I agree with John that the segments are cool, and it is fun to compete against myself and go for PRs and also how I compare against the field of bikers (esp. on big hills). Strava segments have been cause for some concerns for bikers as a result of uber competitiveness and consequent unsafe riding to achieve KOMs and QOMs (King and Queen of the Mountain- fastest male and female for a given segment). This isn’t really a problem for unicyclists though, since we log our rides as “ride” along with bikers, who are obviously much faster. There had been some petitioning to get Strava to create a unicycling category (after all, they have kitesurfing, handcycling, and wheelchair), but to no avail. Therefore, many unicylists have a username followed by (unicycle) or something like that.

After a bit of exploring the menus, I’ve found that Map My Run has categories for Unicycling General and Unicycling Long Distance. The calorie calculations seem suspiciously similar to bicycling, though. Not identical, but only differing by a tiny amount.

Not at all sure about the idea of a unicycling general. What next? A field marshal on stilts?

DC Rainmaker

If you are interested in using a bike computer or sports watch I recommend reading the many articles and thorough reviews on

A previous note suggested that Garmins devices were generally buggy and Garmin seemed slow to fix them. All I know is that I am very satisfied with my Garmin Vivoactive HR. Sure there was a couple of weeks of buggy firmware revisions about a year ago but it has since been fixed. These devices are tiny computers so I’m not surprised if a bug creeps in. I just want the bugs squashed and the usefulness of the device increased. Garmin still issues updates even though the device has been superseded. My GPS locks on in about 10 seconds, stays locked in the forest trails I’m on, and the battery lasts long. I charge it every few days. Because it’s a watch it’s with me no matter which uni I’m on.

But as I said, check out DC Rainmakers website.

Cheers - Terry O’Leary