Technology. It’s something that I definitely like to step back from and remind myself that there’s a whole wide world out there beyond what’s on some tiny little screen. One of the reasons that I love being on a bike is that I have to pay attention to everything around me all the time, and there’s no way I can engage with my phone and stay safe and alert. So the phone stays securely tucked away, and I ride fully attuned to what’s around me. That’s not to say that there aren’t some sweet ways to utilize smartphones and other gadgets and websites. I’m going to expound a bit here on how I’ve utilized such modern wonders to enhance my life on a bike.
An incentive to commute! A couple of years ago, my partner and I stumbled on a Dero Zap table while at an event at Freewheel Midtown. At the table, I chatted with a representative who explained that I could mount a tag on my wheel, and as I biked around town past one of their stations, I would be “zapped.” I could register my tag online, and there I could input the distance of my commute. From then on, the website will take care of recording my miles and adding up fun facts like how many miles I’ve commuted or how many gallons of gas I have saved by commuting. I enjoy the “zap.” I have been known to ride out of my way to find a zap station. (There are many by the U of M, but many parts of the metro don’t have them. Luckily, I have several on my commute from Northeast through downtown to Kenwood.) Note that this program is free, and you can get multiple bikes tagged, so no matter which one you’re riding, your commute will be recorded.Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 8.09.07 PM.png
Map My Ride
I know there are several GPS-related apps that are available and can be run on Android and iPhone. I happen to use MapMyRide. It’s free (although they like to remind you that you can pay for the MVP version and your life will be complete). It works well, and you can choose to either use the phone app and have it “live map” you while you ride, or you can go onto the website after you’ve done a ride and map it with the map feature. I don’t know why I’m so entertained by doing the latter, but I love to go in and map where I’ve been and then name the route. MapMyRide also syncs with your FitBit (yet another tech gadget, not so great with biking so I’m not going to discuss it here). You can “friend” people on MapMyRide, and then it will let you know when they’ve ridden, if they’ve won awards (usually based on their own Personal Records) and you can “like” what they’ve done and tell them they’re rad. I find this to be very inspiring and I love the simple little exercise of entering my rides after I’ve completed them. It tallies your miles so you can have a neat little total at the end of every week.
I feel a little silly about how much I can be inspired by these little details. But I like to know that I’ve logged some significant miles on my bike. It makes me feel really good to know that I’ve moved myself almost 3000 miles in commuting since I tagged my bike.
What moves you? Do you have favorite applications or technology that help inspire you to ride your bike? Share them in the comments section! Let’s inspire each other.