These days there are apps for everything, so I sat down and compiled a brief list of five must-have apps for the upcoming Seattle to Portland (STP) Bike Ride.
This is not a new area; others have compiled bike app lists, including this The App Whisperer article that led me to choose my #1 app on this list.
There’s also this Travelling Two article which goes beyond mere bike-only apps.
I followed the path of Travelling Two, but looked to compile five very different apps that would be useful during any bike tour. My requirements: each would need to serve a notably different function and aid your tour in some fashion. Here’s the list:
1. Cyclemeter GPS Cycling & Running App
Read my original take on the Cyclemeter GPS Cycling App, and you’ll get the impression that I was a fan from the start. It’s true: I have used the app to track my location, elevation climbs, ride time and average speed since the day I purchased it, and I’ve found it very well worth the cost of a few dollars.
My only complaint is likely the standard one: like most apps, continuous use over a long period of time will drain your battery. So, if you are able to charge while you ride either via a bike-powered phone charger (still looking for one that gets solid ratings) or a solar-powered phone charger (again, still on the hunt).
If you prefer, you could also get Map My Ride, which has received good ratings.
2. Bike Repair
While the hope is you’ll never need it, having access to a bike repair or troubleshooting app can come in handy when out on the open road. This app gives you good step-by-step instructions on how to complete various small repairs and also has a decent troubleshooting section.
In addition to my Bike Repair app, I have a small set of standard and compact bike tools housed just under my seat as a just-in-case.
I have found the photo guides most useful and have used it to research removing pedals from my old 70s Schwinn Varsity.
Bike Doctor is another app in this category.
3. Red Cross First Aid
Again, the hope here is that you won’t need this app. However, there were a few times we passed cyclists who had crashed. Being that my father is both elderly and a diabetic, it’ll be useful to reference if he gets low/high on blood sugar during the ride. If an emergency should arise, this app could come in handy.
Now, during the STP it is unlikely you’ll need this app even should there be an emergency or problem as this ride is quite well supported. However, if you are on a solo or very small group tour, it’s recommended to have a general first aid app.
I love Instagram. It takes you standard, often dull camera phone photos and brings them to life.
With Instagram, you can share your photos with your friends by connecting your account to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. A strong recommend for any trip and one I’ll be using frequently during the STP.
Why use Yelp on the trip? During those overnight stays, Yelp is perfect for finding that hot local spot for a quick bite to eat, a beer after riding 100 miles, or even a hotel for the night (though for that I’d lean toward TripAdvisor or Orbitz).
On a recent vacation, I used Yelp frequently to seek out restaurants with gluten-free options. You can read what others say in the reviews section. Its connection with Maps allows you to get easy directions to the dining establishment, and you can add in your own two-cents about your experience when you’re done.