The Apple of my Bike

My first computer was an Apple IIe. My family lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, a ways away from Cupertino, but close enough to get caught up in the buzz. Initially the IIe was a family computer that we all used. A few years later, my Dad bought the first version of the Mac, which became his computer. I continued to use the IIe, which we later upgraded to a IIe+ until it was long obsolete. We even kept the thing for ages in the attic. It was little more than a paper weight, but we couldn’t even think of throwing it away.

Fast forward 30 years later and I am officially an Apple aficianado. Or maybe that would be a geek. While my desktop computer is a PC (which drives me nuts), my household has two iPhones, two iPads and an Apple TV. Soon I will be buying the iPhone 4S, which will have been my third. I had two iPods before it.

On Wednesday, 10/5/2011, we lost Steve Jobs. There has been no shortage of tributes this week, which have memorialized him as a visionary, one of America’s great inventors and entrepreneurs. It is a tragic loss for anyone to die that young, but it especially hits home when a single individual has affected my life to such a degree. In tribute to Mr. Jobs, I am going to take a little time to talk about how I use Apple technology on the bike.

My phone is with me at all times on the bike. The middle rear jersey pocket is my space of choice, as it allows me to easily and casually reach behind and grab when needed.

Camera – Just about every image you see on this website was taken with my iPhone. This is about the only reason I will grab my phone while moving and I have become quite good at it. The picture quality is not the best available, but it is more than enough for capturing shots while moving on a bicycle. Soon, with the release of iCloud, that photo integration will become even easier for me to manage. Everytime I take a photo, it will show up somewhere up in the cloud, waiting for me to upload when I get home.

Cyclemeter for iPhone

GPS – I use Cyclemeter as a secondary GPS to my Garmin. It isn’t as accurate, but I like the way that it shows the map in the app. You may have noticed that I have linked to exported Google Maps, like this one from my Mount Mitchell ride. That came from the iPhone and Cyclemeter. It may seem excessive to keep a backup GPS, but sometimes the Garmin has issues or cuts out. I also like how Cyclemeter integrates with the iPhone calendar, so ride data for any date is always just a touch away.

Weather – I live in an area with a highly unpredictable climate. There have been many rides where rain clouds appeared out of nowhere despite a sunny and clear forecast. There have also been weeks where the forecast is for rain every evening, so I have to be watchful of the presence and direction of rain clouds. That’s where the iPhone comes in. I use The Weather Channel, which isn’t the best app, but it works. There have been rides where I literally had to check the phone at stops to see where clouds were and ride around them. The phone has kept me mostly dry.

Nutrition – When training I am careful with my calories. It takes a lot of work to drop even a pound, much less the 5 or 10 I want to lose before riding up a mountain. There are many apps available for this. After experimenting with a few, I have become comfortable with MyNetDiary, which integrates with a web utility and iPad app. As long as I remember, I can get a good idea of what I’m putting into my body. As you can see in the photo, I am not training at the moment.

Maps – The iPhone’s built in Maps/GPS program is a wonder. I have used it on several occasions to either plot a route, or more commonly to figure out what turn I missed. This has saved my behind on a few occasions. The most notable was at the Challenge of the Centuries where I missed an important turn and went off course a few miles. If I hadn’t a GPS utility in my pocket, I may have kept going another 5-10 miles and really screwed up my ride. I have also made custom cue sheets for myself when riding somewhere new solo and will check them turn-by-turn. This isn’t the perfect solution, but it works and I prefer it to grabbing sweaty, wrinkled paper from my jersey. The last I did this was when I rode up Paris Mountain.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. The iPhone and iPad especially have become such an integral part of my life, cycling or otherwise, that I can hardly imagine riding without them.

Thank you, Steve, for everything. You will be missed.


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