App of the Week: Strava Cycling

Image credit: Strava

App Name: Strava Cycling Price: Free Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Garmin Forerunner, Garmin Edge

What does this app do?: Strava Cycling, created by Michael Horvath, is a social media app for cycling enthusiasts. The app syncs with iPhone, Android, or Garmin devices and lets users find and track rides, analyze their progress and participate in challenges. As you record and track a ride, you can view a map of route, as well as monitor the elevation and your speed. From there, you can upload your ride results to the Strava website to analyze your performance.

Tap the Feed button to follow other riders and their progress, and search for trails and segments in a given area. The app also provides challenges, such as "The Junedoggle," in which you accumulate as many rides in the month of June as possible. The social media functionality of the app, is what separates Strava Cycling from the pack; athletes can virtually follow each other watching how others are performing on the same segments and compete for King or Queen of the Mountain, or KOM. This competitive element wins over many riders-walk into any bike shop these days, say the word "KOM" and chances are the staff and any serious bike lover in the room will know exactly what you're talking about.

While the app is free, you can purchase premiums plans, which provide features such as heart rate analysis and training tools that help you understand your strengths and weaknesses over the course of a ride.

Is it easy to install?: Strava makes it easy to get started. Once you download the app, sign up for an account and start tracking your ride.

Should I try it?: Strava Cycling appeals to the data-driven cyclists who want more from a fitness app than just maps of routes and guides; the app's interactivity is what draws users who can see where they match up against each other. Users can give kudos and comments to help motivate each other, too, making it possible to enjoy the benefits of competition among riders from all over the world. However, if your priority is simply to navigate a ride or follow a training guide, then other apps, such as MapMyRide or TainingPeaks, will accomplish the same task.

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