Best training apps and sites for cyclists
Paul Ryman, personal trainer, triathlete and founder of the cycling channel RI:ID, offers his choice for the best technology to plan your training
How do you get in shape for that big ride? Paul Ryman, a personal trainer, triathlete and founder of the cycling channel RI:ID, offers his choice for the best technology to plan your training.
In many ways 2020 has been the year of the bike. Since lockdown restrictions came into place in the UK in March, cycle sales have soared, and a new government scheme aims to get more people than ever onto two wheels. Cycling has also done a lot of good, with events such as the MyPrudential RideLondon* raising much-needed cash for the nation’s charities. The new breed of pedal-heads across the country are well supplied by a wellspring of apps, websites and video channels all promising to get beginners from sofa to saddle and to help enthusiasts break out of the peloton. But which ones are worth your time? We asked Paul Ryman, a personal trainer and gold-medalled ITU world triathlete, to select his favourites.
App | Free (with paid-for upgrades)
A fitness community app, Strava (Swedish for strive) has over 48 million users worldwide. Through the app - which has versions for phones, satnavs and training devices - you can record your efforts and share your times, routes and pictures with the world. The biggest draw is the 'segments' feature, which allows you to name set distances such as a cycle path or section of road and see how you compare with others on the same stretch. "After I finish a ride it's great to check my Strava account to see how fast I was on a specific segment," says Ryman who uses the app to plan his cycle route and give his training a focus. "I can compare my times against previous rides and against other cyclists who have ridden the same segment - it's a nice bit of healthy competition".strava.com
App | Free (with in-app purchases for extra maps)
Another great app for those looking to explore the great outdoors by bike, Komoot is an intuitive route planner. Simply enter your start and end points, your fitness level and how you plan to travel - it offers routes for runners and hikers alongside road and mountain bikers - and it will calculate the best route for you. The trails run the gamut from commuting to epic off-road adventures and the app offers killer details including elevation profiles, highlights flagged by other riders and the ability to change your route on the fly. "I use this fantastic app for creating adventures on my bike," says Ryman. "I sometimes like to plan my mountain bike and cyclocross rides and this makes that very easy. It has voice navigation so you can follow your route without having to stop and look at your phone and you can save routes you've designed and use them offline."komoot.com
App | Monthly subscription fee of £12.99
One for indoor pedal fanatics, Zwift is a virtual racing game which connects your turbo trainer - a device that turns your regular bike into a static exercise bike - to the net, allowing you to compete with riders across the world. The faster you pedal, the faster your avatar powers through the virtual world. "Zwift is a brilliant cycling platform for turbo training," says Ryman. "You have so many options; to take part in structured workouts and group rides or be on the start line for virtual competitive events. Or you can just go for an easy virtual ride around the streets of London. It has such a large following that you will never be riding alone and the virtual races still give me pre-race nerves just before the gun goes off!!"zwift.com
YouTube channel and app | Free (with in app purchases)
The world's largest online cycling channel, GCN (which stands for global cycling network) offers a wealth of information for cyclists of all abilities. Presented by ex-pro Tour de France and Giro d'Italia riders, the videos cover everything from kit reviews and training advice to the most beautiful cycle routes in the world and the best bikes to buy on eBay. The accompanying app is very community-minded, with the ability to share photos, bike hacks and your favourite places to ride. "GCN has everything you need for improving as a cyclist," says Ryman. "There's stacks of content including training, maintenance advice and all the latest news and top tips".globalcyclingnetwork.com
App | Free
While the specialists have plenty to offer, it's important not to forget that everyday apps can also be perfect for cyclists. Google Maps has been a go-to since the days before smartphones (remember printing out directions to a gig or club when a) printers and b) gigs and clubs were still a thing?) but remains as essential as ever for the impulsive cyclist. "I like to just ride my bike and explore," says Ryman. "Sometimes I get lost, which is all part of the fun and Google Maps has helped me out many times to get me to the nearest cafe or home!"google.co.uk/maps
YouTube channel and website | Free
Ryman's own YouTube channel was born out of the recent lockdown, which meant the five-times Ironman triathlon finisher had to temporarily close his personal training studio. He used the opportunity to launch RI:ID, a new take on online indoor cycling workouts. The one-on-one sessions include short 20-minute HIIT sessions as well as longer cardio-focused rides, the perfect mix for indoor cycling enthusiasts missing their usual classes at the gym. "We launched RI:ID in 2020 as a fresh new indoor cycling channel," says Ryman. "The free workouts are available for anyone who wants to join in and ride from the comfort of their living room. The feedback has been fantastic, I'm really excited to create more content for our growing community of indoor riders."riid.online
*If you'd like to take part in My Prudential RideLondon and help save our UK Charities, set up your Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. Then head over to myridelondon.co.uk to register, if you haven't already done so.