The Best Cycle Training Software?

The way we track our sporting and training activities has changed beyond recognition.

Not so long ago it was a diary beside the bed.  Now it's done on the computer, online or within Apps. 

The built-in GPS in the iPhone, and other smartphones, prompted many of these logging Apps.

Your phone records how far and how fast you've travelled, then automatically syncs with the online version of the App.

With the purchase of a dongle, the iPhone can also record record ANT+ data from heart-rate monitors, cadence sensors and power metres.

Perhaps I'm unusual, but when I go for a ride my iPhone is tucked up snug in a waterproof case and wedged at the bottom of my pocket.  It's certainly not in a position to record my ride.  I need something else.

For years I have recorded my runs, rides and paddles on different generations of Garmin devices.  For cycling I currently use the Garmin Edge 500 Red .  

When I get home, I upload the data to the best software package I've found for the Mac, called Ascent.

Alongside you can see a screenshot from a ride I did last week.

Ascent is an amazingly useful piece of software, which can really drill down into heart rate and other data.

It costs £27 but is worth every penny.  There's a mobile version for iPhone at £6.99 but I haven't tried it for the reasons I explained previously.

Crucially, it can tell me the time (or % of a ride) I spend in each training zone. That's a key element of my current training, as you'll know from Monday's article.  

Each time I need to check a new metric, I find extra depth to the application.  E-mail support, from the developer Rob Boyer, can be a little slow but it does come and is helpful.  I've not used it with a PowerMeter (that's too expensive for me) and I believe GoldenCheetah is the App of choice there.

Every few months I'll upload all my data to a free Training Peaks account, partly for storage and back-up, but also in case, some time in the future, I decide to work with a coach.

The free version of this online software is deliberately limited to encourage you to upgrade to premium and cannot offer the same analysis as Ascent.

To get that level of detail costs at least $9pm ($119 for an annual subscription).

For fun, I've also started logging certain rides on the website Strava.  

I'm new to this one, having learnt about it from the Cycling360 Podcast I wrote about recently.  

The USP of this App is you can compare your time on certain climbs against other riders who've ridden the same piece of ground.

I'm currently seventh on the bill hill outside our house - but then I rode it twice.

I'd heard Strava was prompting users to virtually race each other, even in cities and even when the rides were days or even months apart.

Clearly there's a safety issue there, but one for the users, not Strava.  Like the other new Apps, it offers iPhone logging etc etc.  I'll stick with my wee Garmin.

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