Chrome’s Killer App for Cyclists

There are four things that impede riding: your time, body, bike, and weather. Unlike the first three, you can’t do much about your weather except capitulate or compromise.

I’ll ride in a lot of lousy weather, but if it’s too inclement, I will concede defeat and not go out. But, grumble though I might, very often I will tolerate a potential shower, a light rain, even snow flurries. Although I’d rather minimize weather’s impact on my ride.

My willingness to compromise with the weather means I depend on a forecast that is accurate for my locale. As such I’ve been a big fan and user of web-based weather apps from a variety of sources.

First, let me say, smartphone weather apps are too slow and cumbersome to be of much use for this cyclist. I need quick looks on a large screen with software that can track the real-time path of rain or snow. Besides, the vast majority of rides begin and end at my house, using anything other than my laptop or desktop machines for performance-hungry apps would be silly.

The first useful weather app I employed many years ago was from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It gave me interesting data, but its visual forecast granularity was limited. A few years later I replaced it with Weather.com’s mapping tool and data as my primary weather source for cycling. I still like its Hourly feature; and its 5-Day forecast is pretty darn good. Both NOAA and Weather.com work great with either Firefox or Safari from my desktop or laptop.

However, of late I’ve started using Weather Underground’s website in the Chrome browser. It’s super fast and comprehensive, with accuracy and detail sharp enough to pinpoint the shifting edges of storm down to the street level. For example, although it was raining at my house this morning, I saw online that the direction of the storm meant I could ride away from its path and still get in a decent 90-minutes on the mountain bike and stay (mostly) dry.

As a result of this app in the cloud, I now use Chrome a heck of a lot more than I once did. I’m not a big fan of how Google’s browser combines the web address and search areas into a single bar. In fact, that “feature” has discouraged me from using it. But the Weather Underground service more than makes up for it and because it is most responsive with Chrome, I now use that browser more frequently for weather and other Internet browsing tasks than I would otherwise.

So, at least for this cyclist, the notion of a “killer app” still exists. Only today it’s in the cloud and the best way to get to it is with Chrome.

© Mark Everett Hall 2011

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2 thoughts on “Chrome’s Killer App for Cyclists

  1. Mark,
    As a rider of many weather conditions, I have yet to use the power of web based communication to determine whether I ride or not. But as time and body functions pass, it may be time to have a look.

  2. The Wundergound full page site is spectacular. It’s generally the first place I go when checking the weather. I’m surprise Weather.com hasn’t follow suite, but I guess you can’t cram as many ads in a user’s face that way.

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