A dank British drizzle falling through the night sky was wetting me to my core. It was this that first tempted my mind to sway toward dark thoughts as I cycled the 30 miles home from Cirencester. Visibility was dropping fast and I had begun to imagine the worst possibilities and outcomes of my solo journey. Had I switched my rear light on? Had it become waterlogged and failed, leaving me practically invisible on the country roads? What would happen if I were to slip on autumn leaves and tumble headlong into a roadside ditch or get sideswiped by a spooked deer? How would I recover if I were to crash into an aggressive badger or be attacked by a bear? Who would be to know if I were jumped by some unseen ghoul of the night? I continue to ride but these thoughts follow like some unnamed demon, he is my worry and doubt and I can’t lose him, he has always been much fitter than me.
As I have grown older worrying thoughts creep into my helmet covered head more often than they once did. I contemplate my loved ones, knowing they worry about me, especially as I could be anywhere within a 100-mile radius when riding my bike. Far from the beaten tracks, pedaling my mountain bike in areas where walkers rarely venture and ambulances can only dream of reaching or Chasing KOMs on the road bike, racing around corners with sheer drops too steep to traverse. My life line, the mobile phone is always in my pocket (of course), but this is of no use when knocked unconscious or the victim of a hit and run. Laid unconscious, possibly injured or in a critical state, miles from another living soul, Strava would carefully pause my ride in order to protect my vital average speed. My Garmin, as caring as a machine is able, would neatly put itself into power saving mode so that it may slowly cease to work alongside my broken body. Sobering thoughts, but what can be done?
One company has addressed cycle related danger in the forefront of their design and looks to relieve my (and my loved ones) worries. Available on Android and IOS, Bike computer from Venikom is a cycling computer with a difference. By using the built-in “KEEP ME SAFE” button you can activate a safety text message in the event of an incapacitating accident. If you stop whilst riding, the app asks you to swipe to say that you are safe. If you are unable to swipe within a user defined time(10- 60 seconds), then a message is sent to any of your pre-loaded “Safety contacts” which includes a GPS location and information about the speed you were traveling when the incident occurred. Your safety contact is prompted to make contact to check if you are okay, failing this they are asked to call emergency services. This not only left my mind at ease but my fiancee was delighted that she would know my whereabouts should the worst happen.
This app is designed for use as a handlebar mounted cycle computer, mounting a phone holder would be the best course of action, something I’m not keen on personally but using the app pocket based worked just as well. Avoiding reading any constant data flow can also keep you safe. The layout is a user-friendly affair with just one page displaying all the data available and the Keep me safe button tucked away at the top of the screen to be accessed when needed. It is clear and concise if a touch basic, displaying temperature, distance, speed, elevation, and average speed on the main page. Currently, there are no other fields available although Venikom are updating regularly and a live tracking mode is already in the works. A user controllable screen layout might have been a nice function but the preloaded design worked well. Bike Comp completes all of its functions with excellent accuracy and has changeable units for those with a more metric sensibility. During testing, the app never once crashed. Even when the Garmin struggled as I entered a tunnel, the Bike comp app dealt with the signal drop without crashing or delay. There is Bluetooth connectivity for heart rate monitors which may be developed to read power data as well if enough users request this. The app freely connects with Facebook and Strava so that rides can be uploaded to either keeping an activity stream to be viewed after. The Strava connection was particularly speedy and is a nice way to record those personal bests whilst keeping safe. This is particularly impressive when you consider that this app will run with 12% less power drain on your precious battery than the competing apps such as Strava.
As a rider who partakes in many different disciplines, I can see certain areas where this app will replace my commonly used Garmin unit. The dark winter commute, for instance, is the perfect time to switch to Bike comp as the long battery life and safety feature will be glad additions. Group road rides are likely to remain home to the more detailed sports products such as Strava but solo adventurers, mountain bikers, tourers, bike packers, and commuters should consider downloading the app for the safety feature alone. This application may not fully replace your chosen cycling data product but is certainly worth running alongside it, to be used when the situation leaves you in danger.
Available now as a freemium app, Bike computer should be in all cyclists kit bag this winter.