Cycling has been in the news a bit more than usual lately, and not in a good way. If you follow triathlon news you have probably heard about the athlete that was killed after being hit by a driver while competing in Ironman Boulder. My mom heard about that and she usually only hears triathlon news from me. I wrote a little while ago about how to stay safe on the road. That information is important, so if you haven’t read that post yet, go read it now!
In that post I give a few pointers on staying safe and I mention one specific app I use that gives my wife a little more peace of mind while I am out on the road. That is the Road ID app.
I use a traditional Road ID bracelet for carrying emergency contact info while I’m training, but the app is so much more than just contact info. And best of all, it’s free! So let’s dive in and check it out.
In a nutshell the Road ID app is simply live tracking using your phone’s GPS. Your friends and family (or whoever you decide to add to the list) can follow along with your workout in real time. For my wife this does two things; first, it lets her know I’m still alive, and second it lets her know about how long I have left on my ride. The second one is more of a side effect than anything, but it is still nice for her.
The other big feature on the app is the stationary alert. If you stop moving for more than 5 minutes, the app will send an alert to your emergency contacts to let them know they should check on you. A lot of other products focus on sending alerts when a crash has been detected, but Road ID simply uses your GPS to make sure you are still moving.
Using the App
Using the app is very straight forward. Once you install it from your phone’s app store (iPhone or Android) then you open it up and set up all your information. It’s really simple, just follow the instructions.
The live tracking (they call it “eCrumb”… kinda like Hansel and Gretel) is the heart of the app. There you can select how long you will be out and one of 3 simple messages (or you can write your own). Then you add up to 5 emergency contacts. You can add them from your contacts or manually input them.
Just make sure you have your notifications on and hit “next.” That will take you to a summary page where you can then start the eCrumb when you are ready. When you start it, the people you set as an emergency contact will get a message with a link to follow you. You can set either an email address or a phone number for this, but I always use a phone number.
After that, you simply go on your ride. If you stop for more than 5 minutes (hopefully to refill your bottles or even to fix a flat tire and not because you got hit by a car) then you will get a message telling you that you are stopped. You have 60 seconds to cancel it before your contacts are notified. If you don’t cancel it, then your contacts will get a message telling them to check on you. It won’t call the police for you, but it will let your guardian angels know something is out of the ordinary.
Another interesting thing is that the app will give you a 2 minute warning and then a 30 second countdown if you are still out at the time limit you set when you started. You can
add more time in 10 minute intervals if you think you will be out longer. The thing that puzzles me is that none of this gets relayed to your contacts. It doesn’t tell them at the start how long you will be, so you will have to tell them yourself. This would be nice for those that don’t live with their emergency contact or even if the contact is out of town. The same goes for adding 10 minutes. I would love for my wife to be notified if I think I’ll be out on the road a little longer.
When you get to the end of your ride, you will simply use the slider to end the activity and you are taken to a summary page where you can select your “I’m alright” message to your contact. Once you confirm, your contact is notified you are done and they can stop worrying! Your live track stays available for 24 hours and you are sent an email summary if you put that info in at set-up.
Obviously, I use this app and I love it. I have been using it for about 3 years now. When I upgraded to the Garmin 920xt, I tried out the live tracking that Garmin has on some of the newer watches and computers, but they just aren’t quite as easy to use as Road ID. They also don’t have a stationary alert like Road ID, so that is a big feature that is missing.
In the end it’s one of those things that “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The Road ID app keeps momma happy and I feel much safer knowing I have someone keeping track of me just in case!