Cycling is a great way to get around – but it's not limited to just the commute to work. Plenty of travelers prefer cycling over other means of transport, for anything from a few hours exploring a European city to years biking from one side of the world to the other.
The combination of smartphones, portable batteries and waterproof mounts and cases have led to an explosion of cycling apps, and many of them are equally useful whether you're 10 miles from home or 10,000. Here are five of the best.
CycleMap seems almost tailor-made for travelers. It has worldwide map coverage, including offline support so you don't need to use expensive roaming data in your destination. You can set up a route with the built-in itinerary tracker.
Full of important information including bike shops, restrooms and scenic views, the app also lists bike sharing stations in major cities around the world. You even get real-time availability of bike availability in a given sharing station – assuming you've got a data connection, of course.
The app boasts over 800,000 points of interest, 2.5 million miles of cycleways and knowledge of around 390 cities with bike sharing schemes.
Despite not specializing in cycling, Google Maps is right out in front of the pack when it comes to finding bike-friendly routes all over the world.
Offline support for cycling routes is limited – you can download partial maps of much of the world to use without an Internet connection, but you can't create a new cycling route. If you're happy to use standard car-centric directions, though, they'll work fine offline.
If you've got a data connection, it's always worth trying to create your route with Google Maps. After all, isn't it nicer to ride along pretty country lanes than a six lane motorway?
Available on iOS and Android (free).
No, I haven't repeated myself – the CycleMaps app (note the s on the end) is a navigation tool made by cyclists, for cyclists, with a bunch of features that set it apart from the rest. Using open-source maps like OpenCycleMaps, the map lets you choose a direct point to point route, or go via a series of waypoints if you're out exploring.
You can even choose whether you want to get from place to place as fast as possible on major roads, or would prefer a more sedate ride on back roads and lanes.
Available for free on iOS, Windows, Apple Watch and Pebble.
First Aid For Cyclists
In the “I'll install this but really don't want to use it” category, the St John Ambulance cyclist first aid kit focuses on the most common injuries suffered by cyclists. Cuts and grazes, broken bones and other problems are covered, and injuries are also broken down by area of the body.
The app has clear diagrams and instructions for even novice first-aiders, so it's worth having it installed even if you're riding solo or with a friend who doesn't have first aid experience.
The health protocols and emergency number reflect the UK origins of the app, but the injury information applies to us all.
Where Am I At?
If you're out in the middle of nowhere and get a flat tire or fall off your bike, it can be a real issue – especially in foreign countries where you may not speak the language. The simple Where Am I At app does exactly one thing – tell you where you are.
It provides both GPS coordinates and an approximate address, which can then be sent directly via SMS, iMessage or email to anyone who can help you out. If you'd prefer to use a different app, copy/paste solves that problem too.
It's a really simple idea, but a lifesaver (perhaps even literally) when you encounter a problem.
The app is available on iOS (free).