The analytics of ultracycling

Social Lead for IBM Analytics - Financial Services Sector, IBM

Many of us learn to ride a bicycle as a form of recreation when we are children. Perhaps as we grow older, our bicycles become a primary source of transportation—that is, until we get our driver’s license and access to a car. But that situation is not true for everyone.

Many people in the world do in fact rely on their bicycles as a primary mode of  transportation for getting to work, taking kids to daycare, dating, taking the dog to the vet and picking up dry cleaning and groceries. I have spent vacation time in the Netherlands and Belgium and can tell you firsthand that bicycles are used instead of cars for all these chores and more, regardless of the weather or time of day. This trend is also growing in North America, as I’ve even witnessed in Toronto, Canada my hometown.

Some of us continue to use our bicycles only when we have a warm summer weekend to get out and get a bit of exercise. And yet another class of cyclists are athletes or ultracyclists. Ever hear of the Tour de France? Many of us have, but have you ever heard about a cycling race that is far more challenging than the Tour de France?

Enduring a tremendous challenge this year I became acquainted with ultracyclist Dave Haase and the Race Across America, which eclipses the mileage ridden in the Grand Tours of Cycling, including the Tour de France. IBM promoted Haase’s fifth attempt at winning this race by outfitting him with state-of-the-art gadgets that provided critical information for Haase’s support staff that was used to fine-tune his strategy. IBM called this effort the “Internet of Dave.”

Hopefully, the foregoing is filling your head with questions such as the following: 

  • What is the Race Across America, and why is it tougher than other races?
  • How does an athlete fall into such a sport?
  • How did Haase prepare for the race?
  • What gadgets were used and what information did they provide to Haase’s crew?
  • Did Haase win the race?
  • What food does a racer consume during such a challenging feat of endurance?
  • What are the specific strategies for each type of terrain—deserts, mountain ranges and plains?
  • Which element, heat or wind, is more fierce than the other during a race?
  • How much rest did Haase have each day? 

I was able to ask Haase a few of these questions, and now you have a chance to meet Haase in a Google Hangout to learn the answers to these questions and any others you may be curious about. Watch the replay to hear Haase talk about his RAAM and analytics experience. If you want a preview, watch all the videos and read all the blogs created to bring interest to the IBM effort of using analytics and insight to arm Haase with the information he needed to race his best race.

Drawing an analogy for business

Another question you may be asking yourself is why does IBM care about cycling races? Haase’s story brings a human face to the benefits gained when insight and foresight are available to make the critical decisions necessary at precise moments for maximum impact. And his story draws an appropriate analogy to what may be required to help your business win within its own competitive landscape.

Be sure to attend IBM Insight 2015, 25–29 October 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada to meet Haase in person at the Insight Solution EXPO and to hear more about his story in a general Insight session. In the meantime, sign up for a 15-day free trial of IBM Planning Analytics, a financial performance management solution that is designed to help you speed up budgeting, planning and forecasting.