We’re officially a nation of cyclists. And we’re not just talking about swelling with national pride at all of the medals British Cycling picks up at every Olympics, or rejoicing at Chris Froome’s latest Tour de France win in July (yep, that makes four wins, if you’re counting).
Cycle schemes are taking off from Cambridge to Newcastle – in fact, the latest in budget bike-sharing, Chinese scheme Mobike, has recently launched in Manchester with its pick-up-and-ride bikes (you don’t even need to park at a docking station once you’ve reached your destination), and is coming to London this September.
We know all about the myriad benefits of cycling for our health, from getting a daily dose of aerobic exercise to strengthening our glutes. And let’s not forget about getting some headspace and reconnecting with the great outdoors.
Even for those not cycling in the fresh air, the allure of the competitive spin class – brought over from across the Atlantic and cruising on the popularity of SoulCycle – has even the least likely cyclists among us flying by the seat of our pants.
You don’t need to be a pro cyclist to enjoy the ride. But you do need to kit out your smartphone with all of the latest cycling apps. You know, so you don’t get lost. Or fall into a pothole.
And so that you can track all of your amazing progress, whether you’re looking to integrate cycling into your commute or have decided this is the year you’ll be participating in your first triathlon.
Thinking of getting into cycling? Here are the apps you need to know about.
ROBERT LEVER via Getty Images
App Store, Google Play, free
Looking to join the nation’s thousands of bike sharers? If you live in Manchester or London, Mobike – the world’s first dockless and cash-free bike-sharing scheme from China – has arrived. Download the app to find your Mobike (and reserve it for 15 minutes), scan the QR code to unlock the bike and enjoy the breeze as you get to your destination on wheels.
Park at any rack, public bike parking or Mobike Preferred Location and pay 50p for the 30-minute ride. You’ll also need to pay a £29 deposit upfront. Bonus: you get credit points for returning a faraway bike close to the city centre.
App Store, Google Play, free (upgrade to Elite from £9.99)
Turn your smartphone into your smartest piece of fitness tech with Cyclemeter, which lets you track and record all of your training, compiling all your stats into graphs, summaries and more. It syncs up with Google Maps so you can check out the terrain and traffic (and avoid getting lost), lets you share your stats and allows you to compete virtually against others. It’ll also sort out your running, walking, skiing and more.
App Store, free for a seven-day trial
This highly regarded indoor cycling app offers a vast collection of cycling training videos (set against a backdrop of officially licensed race footage from the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and Paris-Roubaix), compelling storylines and heart-pumping soundtracks.
You’ll also find Yoga for Cyclists workouts and a ten-week plan to help build up your mental strength - probably a requirement to survive training videos with titles like The Violator, A Very Dark Place and The Wretched.
For those who want their indoor cycling training served up with some gamified characters and interactive graphics, Zwift
is another indoor cycling app to try.
App Store, free
One of the most daunting challenges for newbie cyclists exploring uncharted territory? Carving out a safe cycle route that fits within their skillset. CycleMaps can help: it will display a route planner that tracks your speed and distance and helps you get back on track when you lose your way. It also works in countries around the world, so no, your next holiday jaunt isn't going to be used as an excuse to stop your biking efforts.
App Store, Google Play, free (from £5.99 a month for Premium)
Widely regarded as a must-have for anyone with even the remotest interest in cycling or running, Strava does it all. Tracks your performance. Records your PBs. Helps you connect with your community. It also syncs beautifully with all of your existing tech (GPS watches, fitness trackers, etc.) The built-in Beacon lets loved ones know your location in real time, and when you feel that competitive fire burning, you can push yourself in personal challenges or go up against others on segment leaderboards.
Matt Cheetham/Mike Kirk via Getty Images
App Store, Google Play, free
Pesky potholes are more than just a nuisance to those starting to cycle their city or town's streets – they’re a real risk. Happily, this app from Cycling UK lets you report potholes and any road defects via the app, which then gets in touch with your local council and gets the roads repaired. ASAP.
Try going the same route again a week or two later to see your Good Samaritan-style handiwork in action.
Blackzheep via Getty Images
Your iPhone's Health app is a powerful tool in its own right, helpfully tracking everything from sleep to nutrition to activity. It works seamlessly with a wide range of apps like Strava, as well as a variety of fitness trackers. Keep on top of your cycling distance with minimal effort by tapping Health Data, then Fitness, then Cycling Distance and your rides will show up on your health dashboard. Who's ready to pedal, then?