Archive | November, 2012

Bike riding: Evolving philosophy

1 Nov

The beginnings of Hammerhead navigation, came out of a frustration that we experienced as cyclists. We were always looking to tie together a series of roads and pathways into a fun bicycle ride and often ended up choosing the familiar. Each time before a ride it would require some thought whether it was a serious Sunday training ride, visiting a friend, planning a cross-country tour or heading into the mountains. However each time it usually ended up being a friend’s recommendation or just the roads where you knew you wouldn’t have troubles.

Cycling has evolved with technology and serious cycling is now associated with all kinds of data and technology. Companies such as Garmin, Polar, Shimano, Powertap, Cateye etc. have been a pioneering force in bringing better insights into how far, fast, high and efficiently we ride. In terms of our actual bike routes and destination we are more used to passively tracking our rides with a GPS device or our favourite fitness tracking apps such as Strava, Mapmyride and Endomondo.
This evolution is aligning with mobile technology and allowing us to open our fitness and sports data to our friends and the community. The notion of your daily ride becoming a little more social or competitive is a fantastic idea! Its about encouraging friends to get in shape, pushing that time-trial pace or just making you understand your own goals a little better. Our team took a broader look at the notion of riding a bike and where the mode of transport and sport is headed. The proliferation of smartphones has given us unprecedented access to what used to be considered instrument-quality GPS devices, processors and data management, advanced sensors and high-efficiency wireless technology. I will try not state the obvious but it’s phenomenal what these little bricks are doing for the future of sports. Our glaring observation came from a simple question: “How do you experience a great bike ride?”

The obvious things aside, like owning a bicycle, and leaving the house, as cliche’d as this is, its the journey.

The key to the journey is the path and yes, we got philosophical here. Cyclists get all this access to information, Google maps and at one stage Google Earth was a tool that we planned rides on. We would scour the mountainsides with the zoom maxed out, or look at Topo maps, trail maps, ask local gurus…. In fact, planning a bike ride usually entails a whole lot of luck, blind exploration and possible roadside loss due to the mental GPS failure. Thankfully we are all now able to use our little bricks of knowledge and pinch around Google maps to get home. In fact a great bike ride was a random occurrence or a recommendation of a friend. A chance finding and when it happened you would be damned if you forgot that route again. In fact that route would become a regular and you would recommend it to friends.

We wanted to make this process natural, intuitive, we wanted to let friends give us a sweet bike route and then just follow it. There are roads that are perfect for sunset cruises or early morning training rides, there are those beachfront boardwalks or secret singletracks. We just needed a map that gave us those options and then let us follow them. No stopping, or ending up on the 101 Highway. Hammerhead navigation was built on intuition, like finding your way and we aim to keep it pure. No synching or extensive planning, we didn’t want our turn-by-turn instructions invading our ride. Just a reminder of a turn on the broader journey that you can then use to improve others. 

We know that our business model can fit into this cycling data world and provide the community with a rich new layer. We see the cross-over of smartphones and cycling devices as a place where we can serve a great base aspect of cycling. The choice to ride and the ability to enjoy that ride.


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