Monday, 14 February 2011

Cycling Apps on Android

If you have read some of my earlier posts, I have mentioned that my mobile phone has been an invaluable tool to help me get cycling. Here are a few apps available on the android platform that are helpful to cyclists.


Bike Hub


This is a sat nav application especially built for cyclists,which is built upon the route planning engine from cyclestreets. A really good bonus feature is that it has a nifty feature to show you close by bike shops. Very useful if you break down and need some help. 

And best of all this is FREE on the android market.




Similar to Bike Hub, but  not as smooth and no bike shop finder. This is also FREE!
Bike Route Android market link

MyTracks

 
This basically turns your android phone into a state of the art cycle computer. It tracks where you cycle (or run or ski or just walk around) via GPS, then it will plot the path on a map and give you a whole load of stats , plus pretty graphs showing your elevation and speed over time. You can also send the maps you plot to google map.

Another great feature , it's FREE too:


Cycle Hire Widget



This shows you where your closest boris bike dock is and also tells you how many bikes are empty slots are available at that location. Very useful if you use boris bikes and are always running into the problem of not finding a bike, and when you do find one,when you're done you can't find an empty slot to drop it off.

Another FREE app.





Provides instruction on how to fix many common bike problems. Might help you out if you break down in the middle of nowhere and not sure what to do.

Available on the android market for £1.79 


Also see:


Friday, 26 November 2010

Favourite Cycling Websites


Like most people who think of doing something new, I turned to the web when I first thought about to start cycling. Over the last few months I've found quite a few informative, entertaining and damn right useful websites related to cycling. Here are some of my favourites:

Route Planning

CycleStreets - best online cycle route planner,  period. They also offer a free IPhone app and

OpenCycleMap - built upon the open source map site  OpenStreetMap,  this is the only online map which highlights cycle routes. CycleStreets uses this too to display routes.

TFL Cycle Journey Planner - a cycle planner from Transport for London. Not as good as cyclestreets but it does show where you can find Boris Bike cycle docks.

Blogs

London Cyclist Blog - one of the most popular cycle blogs out there. Lots of useful information, product reviews and cycling tips.

The Trusty Steed - a very entertaining blog about a girl in London and her bike named Trusty.

i bike london - another blog about cyling in London. This blogger's aim is to rehabilitate the bicycle. 

Cyclists in the City - blog on problems of cycling in the City of London and what can be done about it. If you there is a particular road or junction that you think is a problem, this is the site where to raise it.

Guardian Bike Blog - cycling blog posts from various posters at the Guardian

General

TFL Cycling - General cycling info from Transport for London

Cycle Lifestyle - online cycling magazine that promotes cycling. Lots of useful cycling information and reviews.

Shopping


Wiggle - online cycle store , lot's of good deals

Evans Cycles - one of the biggest cycling store chains in the UK. Good thing is that they price match from other sites and also check out a 10% discount voucher at tfl.

Leave a comment if there are any cycling sites that you like that aren't mentioned above.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Winter Cycling - from a driver's perspective


On Tuesday last week, on that foggy frosty morning, I wasn't cycling , but I did need to get somewhere by car. After scraping the ice of the windshield and then waiting for the car to warm up to get the demistifier into action I was finally on my way.

It was the first time I had been behind the wheel during the morning rush since I had started biking to work a couple of months back, so I was trying to take particular care to watch out for my new fellow cyclists.

What I realised is that driving in rush hour in London is not great and while, trying to peer through a misty windscreen on a foggy morning and negotiate the numerous potholes, it can be easy to miss that cyclist undertaking you on the left (something I frequently do) as you fight for space on the road with the other motors all around.

The point of this post, is that driving in London in the winter especially at rush hour can be quite stressful, so as a cyclist we should do what we can to make sure we are safe. I'm not saying make sure we should all be lit up like a christmas tree, but to ride responsibly  by doing things like maintaining a good road position i.e. not to close to the curb and leaving a some extra space between yourself and the vehicle in front.

I don't want to sound like I am being negative about cycling, I just want cyclists to think from a drivers perspective. I still think cycling is one of the best ways to get around London, regardless of the weather and I encourage everybody I know to try out two wheels.  Actually I think the more drivers who have some experience of cycling, we have on the roads the safer it would be.

As Atticus Finch says in To Kill a Mockingbird "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

Winter cycling posts in the blogosphere:
Tips to keep you cycling safely this winter from the London Cyclist
Are you ready to cycle through the winter from ibikelondon
Men in tights from The Trusty Steed

Friday, 5 November 2010

Conquering the hill


The part of cycling to work I least look forward to isn't  dragging my bike out on a cold winters morning, neither dodging the white vans , buses and trucks on the city's narrow streets, it's the thought of getting through a tough uphill stretch (for me anyway).

Luckily London's streets aren't as crazy as San Francisco pictured above, but if your journey takes you to further than zone 2 you're likely to hit a steepish hill at some point.

After a few weeks of perseverance, I'm not exactly sailing over climbs like this, but I am getting over the top without stopping or jumping off to push the bike uphill.

So here are my tips on getting over those hills:


  • If there is a climb where you need to get off and push, each day set a target of riding a little bit further before you jump off. Today the bus stop, tomorrow that corner shop, and after a while you'll get to the top without needing to stop.
  • Master the art of gearing. Start in a higher gear at the bottom of the hill and gradually shift down as you go up. 
  • Don't push too hard near the bottom otherwise you won't have any juice left when you get closer to the top. 
  • Don't look at the top of the hill, it will only stress you out. Look at a point nearer and make that an intermediate target.
  • Don't give up, the more times you go up that hill the easier it will get.
There are lot's of other useful tips at the links below:

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Another Tube Strike & Bike Shop Discounts

Tube Strike



Another tube strike hits London on Tuesday/Wednesday, which means lot more people will be cycling into work than usual.

If you are thinking of cycling in and haven't done so before, have a read of my post from a few weeks ago , "Advice to new commuter cyclists from a new cyclist."  Also take note that it may rain tomorrow, so wear something waterproof, but it is still kind of mild, so nothing too thick.

For those who are regulars on 2 wheels here are some things to watch out for:

  • There will be a lot more cars and buses on the road than usual, especially closer into town. Which means a. traffic may move slower and that may make your life easier and b. there are a load of people behind the wheel who don't usually drive in and may not be use to cyclists coming in from all angles. So in summary take a bit of extra care.
  • There are probably going to be quite a few newbie cyclists and irregular riders out there. They maybe sticking to the curb too much, slow off at the lights and generally a bit nervous on the roads. Again take a bit of extra care, but also try to be accommodating to your fellow cyclist.
  • Leave a bit early, as last time there was a tube strike there was a queue in the changing rooms at work for the showers because of the added numbers.
  • and best of all, you will be in earlier than a lot of your colleagues, gloat gloat gloat. 

Bike Shop Vouchers



While reading about the strike on the tfl site I came across a page of vouchers which offer discounts at places like Evans decathlon , etc.  For Evans it's 10% off all non sale items and they even provide online voucher codes. Every little helps:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/roadusers/cycling/offers/default.aspx

Monday, 1 November 2010

Riding into the wind

I've previously expressed my enjoyment of riding in the rain, but now I have to tell you how I just do not like riding into the wind!  It feels like your wheels are been dragged through treacle. Add going uphill to the mix, and it feels like somebody has attached a bungee cord to your back and you're pedalling furiously to escape.

Maybe I just need more miles on the road to build up my strength, or this is one part of cycling that just won't get any easier.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Riding in the Rain

I don't know what it was, but the other night while there was a bit of drizzle in the air, my journey seemed a lot faster. It felt like the bit of rain on the roads made the surface like a smooth track and it was as if I was flowing across the tarmac.

As others walked home shielding themselves from above, I sliced my way through the moist air without a care that as getting hit by rain drops.

So instead of battling against the weather, cycling uses it to it's advantage.

Let's see how it goes as it gets colder.
There was an error in this gadget