If you’re planning on going on an adventure and you want to plan a route through unknown territory, then a route planning app will become a very useful tool for you.
There are apps that consist of online-planning tools, including pre-existing routes people have made and the option to plan your own route. Some of these apps are: Strava, Komoot and Ride With GPS.
These apps allow you to save and alter your routes and send them to GPS head units to follow, which will save the battery on your phone.
Founded in 2009 Strava very quickly rose to be one of the best apps for cyclists. It also provides a social platform where you can see fellow cyclists’ rides and save their routes.
You can use Strava on your phone to record workouts and figure out where you are on the map should you choose to try and follow your instincts.
Strava also comes with contests for riders, you can star segments and attempt to take the King/Queen of the Mountain on the segments – done by getting the fastest time. These segments also allow you to assess how you rode them – you can see your power, speed, heart rate and cadence – useful if targeting something in specific.
Should you wish to create your own routes Strava uses OpenStreetMaps, on their create tool. But, it is an option you’ll have to pay a subscription for, and although another outgoing monthly, it’s well worth the £6.99 for the features you get.
You can also:
- Track fitness
- Track your distance covered over the year
- Follow friends and save their routes
- Edit routes very easily
- Upload to GPS units
- It works abroad with foreign maps
Unlike Strava, Komoot works offline with navigation, which is incredibly helpful when travelling through the countryside with limited signal and battery life. You can create your route and, once downloaded, you can navigate without a GPS connection.
We would always recommend checking the route on a paper map or google maps, just to ensure safety.
Komoot provides great navigation for both off road terrain and tarmac, which is fantastic for those wanting to venture off road on adventures. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and people can be wonderfully refreshing. It also tells you what percentage of your route in on or off road and the types of terrain you will encounter.
When creating your route, you will notice that it will provide you with points of interest that have been uploaded by other Komoot users. This not only allows you to add in sightseeing stops, but you can really understand what parts of the route are like – pictures speak a thousand words.
You should note that Komoot also uses OpenStreetMaps, which means the description of some of the terrain can be a little funky and poorly defined. The lines on the route planning are not always accurate, due to the map system used.
There is a subscription fee for Komoot, again, definitely worth it if you’re going to be doing lots of exploring.
Ride with GPS
This one has been around for quite some time and it predates Strava. However, it has definitely moved with the times and challenges we present as cyclists.
The only downside is that it is more basic. It provides route planning at a minimum and doesn’t analyse your efforts or data.
The routes on this app are usually designed by the middle-aged cyclist who has been using the app since they began cycling. These are the cyclists who often provide amazing descriptions of the routes along with some photos – ideal for those exploring.
You can create your own routes on this app too, although the tools are said to be a little clunkier than the newer apps – though still functional.
Again, an app with a subscription option, in order to receive turn-by-turn navigation, but perfectly functional on the free membership. Unlike Strava, you can create a route on the free membership.
So there you go! Three great planning tools and apps for tracking various elements of your cycling. It largely depends on how much you want the app to do and provide along the way. Each app has its pros and cons, one being if you want to pay for it or not.
Strava tends to be the app used by most locals wanting to challenge themselves on their rides as well as using it for maps. Unfortunately, not the best for off-road adventure planning due to its map system.
However, you can always check the routes you design on all of these apps, before setting off. Besides, what’s wrong with a little surprise gravel, right?