January. The post-Christmas haze is wearing off, and you're convincing yourself that, despite the wintry cold, it's time to get outside and burn off some of those potato-induced calories. Then go get a bike, download CycleTracker Pro - a GPS tracker for the iPhone - for a couple of quid, sign up for TrainingPeaks online and you'll be building up rewarding visuals and data of how you're doing in no time at all.
TrainingPeaks GPS - CycleTracker Pro
- iPhone (iOS; iPod Touch compatible)
Gym memberships are overrated. Why pay for air conditioned treadmills and fixed cycles that you're likely going to have to queue to use when there's the whole world out there? Two wheels are faster than four in the big city, cycle paths are on the increase and, with a little care and attention, the roads aren't as unsafe as many make out.
CycleTracker Pro - which is part of the TrainingPeaks GPS suite and also includes both Running and Walking activity sections within the app - is a good way to track your progress whatever your preference. The data can sync with your TrainingPeaks account, which is an ideal platform to view and plan your progress.
The tracker app is able to plot your route on a map, with resulting average speed over the distance travelled, including calories burnt and a speed graph. Each activity can then be saved into your history, whether as a unique route or one you want to do again - the "Ghost Runner" application will race you against your previous activity - or let you set up custom distance/time goals or interval training alternations.
Whether you're on road, track, or just pedalling around the park, each person will have different levels of use for the various offerings of this app. For us though it's the "Basic" open-ended option which works best for our needs.
A clean and clear audio announcer is one of the app's highlights. The voice, although not "real", sounds more cohesive than a train station platform announcer, and hearing back how well you've done is particularly useful. Visuals are equally rewarding, including the likes of "calories burnt monthly" and "distance report monthly" to spur you on.
There are some glitches. Since iOS 6 came to market the integration of Apple Maps is sloppy - it plots fine enough when in a live session, but saved sessions go to pot when zooming in and out to double check the route.
On the TrainingPeaks site, however, the synched data is available in full and, in our view, is far more accessible and detailed. It includes elevation and speed plotted on a time graph, for example.
The app can also struggles with long cycles, including GPS drop out and crashes when opening the app mid-cycle. The reports also don't offer nearly enough customisation to view specific weeks out of given months and text can overlap - but all the data is available via the TrainingPeaks site, so not all is lost.
There are some added "fun" features too, including music integration that even includes a selectable "power song" for when the going gets tough (though we'd suggest avoiding any distracting audio when out cycling, so save that for those runs). Session sharing via Twitter, Facebook and email - as well as the aforementioned TrainingPeaks integrations - is also possible, should you need some extra egging-on from your friends in the virtual world.
For what it gets right, CycleTracker Pro does it well. We've found the app and its TrainingPeaks integration to be a useful diary for fitness, and it's that simple, always-available integration with the day to day that makes it well worthy of a download.