Garmin Connect is the go-to sports app for people who own the eponymous bike computer. Luckily for us, it’s more than OK. Either hook up your bike computer with a cable to your computer, or link the Garmin with bluetooth to automatically update the smartphone app.
Once you’ve registered for a Garmin account, you can upload rides to Garmin Connect through Garmin Express. Express is a gateway where you can upload (sync) your bike rides, but also the place where you need to update the firmware on your Garmin once in a while. You can only do this with a cable connecting the Garmin head unit to your computer.
If you are working from a computer, you can click through from Garmin Express to the Garmin Connect screen; if you use the smartphone app, your latest ride will show up once you fire up the app.
The Garmin Connect app itself is very powerful. It has a wide range of features, which are designed to track and analyse activities including running, swimming, walking, multisports, and yoga—as well as cycling, of course. We will concentrate on the features that are most helpful and useful for cyclists.
All the latest Garmin devices have turn-by-turn navigation, so you can easily follow a route when touring or travelling. You can plot a route yourself using a computer (not the most user-friendly process). You can also download someone else’s route in the form of a .gpx file.
It’s all about the data
Once you have completed the ride, you can revisit it and see the map. This is then coupled with all your ride data such as distance, time, average speed, elevation gain, power, heart rate, cadence, and temperature.
Segments are also interesting: these are parts of your route that other Garmin users regularly time themselves on. You can see how you place among the leaderboard, with or without sharing your data with other users.
Your ride data within the app is plotted on convenient graphs that you can be overlaid—you might want to plot heart rate over power, for example. Or cadence over speed. Or elevation over heart rate. You get the idea.
The great thing about this is that you can choose what pieces of data you want to track on a regular basis, as it is progress over time that we are looking for if we are training.
But there are always extras if you want to use your Garmin data capturing capacities to their full potential—it’s not just an app and a bar-mounted head unit. You need a heart-rate monitor strap to record heart rate, a power metre for power, and—if you don’t have a power metre—you will need a cadence/speed sensor fitted to the frame.
But once you have all, or some, of those extras, the possibilities to track yourself along the most exciting and adventurous of rides are almost endless with the Garmin Connect App. Serious power fans will find the data limited, but the rest of us should find there is quite enough information to enhance the enjoyment of our rides, journeys, and bike-based experiences.