I guess I’m a marketeers worst nightmare – I’m not really all that interested in forcing my opinion on others and much happier to give someone the facts and let them draw their own conclusions. This makes me one of the worst brand advocates out there and could perhaps explain why, despite several appeals, Apple and Samsung so diligently shun my offers to test –trial their latest, bleeding edge products.
In fact as a professional market researcher, nothing irks me more than seeing a survey with that hoary, clichéd, dull and unimaginative question, “Would you recommend XXX to your friends and family.” This to me is very, very lazy research and completely misses the point that even if I found XXX wonderfully life-affirming and a sure-fire, can’t miss, can’t-live-without product I can’t say I’d actively recommend it to anyone. Of course if someone asks me directly what I think of something, I’ll gladly tell them as honestly as I can, but I’m just not comfortable foisting my opinions on others.
It wasn’t my intention on setting up this blog to review and opine on cycling “stuff” – there’s plenty of people out there on the web and blogosphere who will, and can do it a lot better than I can. The best will give you great, first-hand and honest, user reviews that I’ve greatly benefitted from in the past and no doubt will again in future. Brilliant. I’m just not wired that way though.
I will however make at least a couple of exceptions; one is for a review (eventually) of the foul weather jacket I bought a couple of weeks ago. I’m genuinely interested to see if it solves the age old cycling dilemma on keeping you dry from both the outside elements and the heat and perspiration your body generates under exercise.
The second is a simple app from the Road ID people that I’ve downloaded to my phone and started using for all my rides. I have no problem recommending this because I think it’s good, it works perfectly for me and it’s free.
But first, let me back-track with a little history. Road ID was started by a guy called Ed Wimmer who barely escaped being pancaked by a pick-up truck while training for a marathon. While lying in the ditch at the side of the road where his desperate evasive manoeuvre had dumped him, he finally realised his father was right all along (yes, my daughters, this moment will come to you too!) to insist he carry ID so family could be notified in the event of an accident.
In Ed’s own words, “Luckily I was OK. But, what if the truck had hit me? I would have been rushed to the local hospital as “John Doe.” Without proper ID, family members and friends could NOT be contacted. Likewise, my Medical records could NOT be accessed at the hospital. How long would I lay there unidentified? This freaked me out.”
From this experience the Road ID concept was born, a simple wearable id bracelet that could be customised with your personal details, emergency contact numbers and basic medical information, any known allergies et al.
I can honestly say this is the only bit of cycling kit I’ve ever bought that Mrs. Sur La Jante actually approved of and that didn’t make her eyes involuntarily roll heavenward in that long-suffering way. In fact when I lost my original one (Mrs. Sur La Jante helpfully filed it away with the paint tins and decorating equipment, where it lay mouldering for a couple of years) it was her insistent nagging that drove me to buy a replacement.
Originally I was attracted to the Road ID as I’d just got back into cycling, hadn’t yet joined a club and was doing a lot of miles out on my lonesome. The ID became an essential bit of kit that was comfortable, unobtrusive, but reassuringly always there – as the marketing blurb says – it is far better to wear ID and never need it than to need ID and not have it. I still wear it today on every ride and strapping it on has become as second-nature as pulling on my cycling shoes.
It was therefore as a registered customer that I was emailed with details of the Road ID App when it was launched. I’m sure there are comparable products out there, but this type of thing is not something I would ever have thought to look for, and my trust in the Road ID crew translated to this app and reassured me it would be worthwhile and reliable.
There are 3 parts to the app, an eCrumb tracker, a stationary alert and a custom lock screen creator. The eCrumb tracker is the clever bit. This can be set to send alerts to your contacts, informing them that you’re about to embark on an epic ride and telling them how long you expect to be away. They can then use a link from this message to follow you on your route, on a map and in real-time. Effectively they can track your progress and know exactly where you are at all times.
Once you complete your ride you get an email with a neat summary of your route, distance, speed etc. – all the usual stuff you’d get from your Garmin or other GPS device.
The optional Stationary Alert doesn’t actually tell you when office supplies are running low (check the spelling, guys) but acts as you might suspect, pinging an alert to your trackers if you become motionless for a set period of time.
Useful I suspect if you crash and are lying unconscious in a ditch, but not something I’ve trialled as we often have to stop for punctures, unexpected mechanicals and in consideration of certain club mate’s infinitesimally small bladder. Of course no club ride goes by without also the pressing need for a mid-ride halt for coffee and cake and that shouldn’t be enough to ring alarm bells.
The Lock Screen creator gives you a template for setting up your phone wallpaper/screen-saver with all the personal and emergency contact details you have on your Road ID bracelet. I use this, but must admit it was the hardest part to set up on my phone and required the expertise of daughter#1 to help me with editing and re-sizing the resultant image so it was a perfect fit.
The app is available on both Google Play and iTunes and downloading and installing it to my Moto E phone was a breeze, even for an old technophobe Luddite like me. As I mentioned, it’s completely free, easy and intuitive to use, and could be a real life-saver if you haven’t already got something that does a similar job. There you go – for once I’m not afraid to recommend something.