I’m Alan Thompson, and I created ScarletFire. I’m guessing you’re here because we share a tendency to want to combine two mutual interests – cycling and all the wonderful, crazy stuff you can do with digital technology these days.
As the site has grown, I appreciate that it’s probably confusing to arrive here and try to figure out where to start. So I wrote this page to try and help you!
You can just dive in to some popular categories here, or keep reading, it’s up to you.
Cycling has changed my life over the last few years. I only really got “into it” seriously in 2011-12, as I approached and then turned 40. Whenever I learned something that I thought would be valuable to others, I wrote a blog post or tutorial to share the knowledge, and some of them have become incredibly popular.
Where are you starting from?
There are well over 250 articles on the site, and it’s difficult to present all the content in a way that makes everything easy to find, and logical to browse. This page helps you to find a useful starting point.
If you’re new to cycling and have never used apps to track your rides, try some of these articles to read about why it’s worth starting.
- 5 ways to wellbeing, and why cycling ticks all the boxes
- Reasons to join your local cycling club
- Cycling to work means fewer days off sick: a case study
Got a smartphone? Wondering which apps to use?
If you’ve already got a smartphone, it’s incredibly easy (and free) to start tracking your bike rides using any one of a huge range of apps. I’m an Android user, and so I wrote a couple of introductory guides
- Getting started with android apps for cycling
- Android apps for cycling that can provide offline maps
Thinking of upgrading to a dedicated GPS, like a Garmin?
At some point, newbies who start out using phone apps tend to want to get a dedicated GPS unit like a Garmin.
- 10 reasons to ditch your smartphone apps and get a Garmin
- Why the Garmin Edge 800 is still the best bike GPS you can buy
Already got a Garmin? Need some help with it?
First of all, congratulations on making the move up from smartphone apps! A great place to start is this summary post of essential Garmin Edge 800 top tips for newbies. I’ve written several other very popular articles and tutorials, some of which are suitable for beginners, and others involve a little more geek power.
- How to customise the startup screen with your name and contact details
- How to set your Home location on a Garmin Edge 800
- The foolproof guide to course navigation on the Edge 800
- How to use elevation profiles to out-psyche the hills
- Use your virtual partner to get Strava KOMs
- Garmin slow to upload new activities? Here’s how to speed it up.
The best maps to use on your Garmin 800/810
ScarletFire includes many posts about the various maps you can use on the higher end Garmin Edge GPS units. In addition to detailed instructions about how to install free open streetmap maps, there are many articles showing screenshot comparisons of different mapsets so that you can see the pro’s and cons of each. For what it’s worth, my personal choice is the City Navigator map .
- Quick guide to free maps to download for Edge devices
- Download a free OSM Garmin map for any country
- Comparison between free OSM and OS Discoverer maps
- Comparison between City Navigator and OS Discoverer Garmin maps
Strava related articles
I couldn’t write this page without talking about Strava. A couple of years ago, one of my posts about third party API sites that utilise Strava data became very popular for a while and gained me a lot of exposure and new readers. Strava has become the benchmark of successful fitness apps, and many of the other big players are now trying to emulate their success, by coming up with their own variations of the concept of “segments”, the magic formula to Strava’s success.
- Strava… the gamification of cycling.
- 7 reasons why most Strava segments suck (do yours?)
- Liven up your Strava feed with Instagram cycling photos
- How to download anyone’s Strava ride
- How to tell if someone used Digital Epo to cheat on Strava
- 9 tips for getting a KOM on Strava
- How to export your ride data from MapMyRide to Strava
- Turbo charge your Strava data with these third party API tools
- How to use Strava to plan your bike maintenance.
Looking for discounts and deals from online bike shops?
Everybody likes to save money, right? I maintain up to date links for the biggest online cycling retailers, which occasionally offer fantastic discount codes and promotional offers. Check out the Chain Reaction promo code page and the Wiggle discount page.
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