Back in August 2012 I abandoned my £130-a-month season ticket and became a full-time cycle commuter braving the elements and London's pot-holed roads to get myself in and out of work each day.
What started as a mild enjoyment of road cycling has blossomed into a full-time obsession. When I leave the flat each morning I'm clad from head to toe in Italian Lycra, my bike is buffed, lubed and polished to the point of wearing the paint away and I've even got cycling shoes that attach me to the bike in the ultimate fusion of man and machine.
Apparently this obsession has a name: MAMIL or middle-aged man in Lycra. Fortunately I haven't gone as far as shaving my legs but that's only because Kate won't let me use her razor so, you know, never say never...
In amongst all the spandex, cycling literature and carbon fibre is a great app I discovered on the Google Play store in October 2012: Strava. I'd seen the name cropping up in various cycling forums but had never actually seen it until I downloaded it that evening and recorded my morning commute the following day and then I was hooked.
Essentially it's an app that tracks your rides (or runs) by recording the GPS data as you're moving along and once the GPX data is uploaded at the end of the ride you can see where you went on a map as well as your speed, distance, duration, elevation and, what makes it so addictive, any personal bests or KOMs (king of the mountains) you may have achieved during the ride.
KOMs are listed on a leaderboard for each segment and are great for adding extra spice to what might once have been a dull stretch of road but they're also a source of heated debate within the cycling community as some say they encourage reckless cycling and risk taking on public roads and I'd agree with that to some extent.
As with most things a bit of common sense goes a long way and treated as healthy competition rather than something that must be won at any cost they can be a great motivation on a repetitive commute such as mine into and out of the City.
Beyond all the data there's a hook-up with Instagram that allows you to take photos whilst recording a ride and have them associated with that particular ride and for the premium users there's heart rate analysis, suffer score and all manner of stats to pour over until you get sick of the numbers and just want to go out and do some wheelies.
So if you're a cyclist (or a runner) and like the idea of recording your activities and revelling in the sea of data you'll generate whilst taking a few Instagram pics and mixing it all with the occassional KOM or QOM and the banter that comes with friendly competition give it a try, you can find my Strava profile here, now let's go!