Coffee Talk - Finish line results will soon become insignificant

Lot of discussion recently about the importance of online results and both sides have made some good points but this whole discussion will soon become insignificant as online finish line results soon fade away to the past.

But before we move off in the the very near future lets talk about why so much frustration with the existing system of online results. Why are some racers so frustrated when results are incorrect, late or non-existant? Because it can be done. 20 years ago, top 5-ish results were posted and that was fine, if you were somewhere mid pack you didn’t complain because you weren't listed at 36th and that was because it was nearly impossible to place riders that deep. But today with high speed camera’s it is possible to not only place the top 5 you can go all the way to the back of the field… as long as the racer put their number on correctly. (Dive deeper into this concept of reduced happiness and the growth of choice in the Paradox of Choice TED Talk - There is really no reason for not being able to produce results accurately and timely with this technology, but this is the beginning of where finish line results will lose their value.

Moving into the future
Imagine for a moment that BRAC had a functioning timing system. No I’m not trying to throw BRAC under the bus here and please don’t bring up the old debate on the previous timing system, just imagine they had a system in place. With a functioning timing system in place you could know your speed and place on each lap along with all of your teammates and fellow racers. Compare your lap times to other fields, etc.

Now imagine that this timing system worked like some ski tracker devices that some ski resorts used for ski lesson. This technology could provide you with information about where you were relative to every racer every second while out on course. Now imagine what could be done with this data, like...

  • You could mash this up with your powertap data and see exactly what with right or wrong at every single turn.
  • You could take this data and replay the race in a simulator . This simulator could also mash up data from google maps and give you a more realistic view of how you performed on grades or corners, etc.
  • Also this data could be turned into a real rider simulator like a compu-trainer and give you a even more realistic view of the race. It would be like watching a cartoon video of your entire race.
  • Lastly you could, using your compu-trainer and take place in a race you never registered for and maybe even win! How crazy is that?

In addition to all of these items mentioned above the actual raw number crunching itself could be amazing, for example you could...

  • track the progress of every single racer and see who is starting to peek or maybe found the miracle vitamin
  • Coaches could use it to find riders who might be considered strong but maybe fade in the last 5 laps. What an amazing marketing piece that could be!
  • Team captains could find a rider who’s racing “profile” fits the type of rider they are looking to recruit. Your profile could be defined for you simple by that data… as a strong domestic player, sprinter, good at long distance, etc.

So when you have so many choices of data points that happen during a race the need for just finish line results will slowly become less important than all of the other data that comes along with it. Racing will still be racing and winners will still be winners on podiums but the race and its data will become so much important for all racers.

All of what is mentioned here is very possible today, none of it is any type of cycling sci-fi fiction. Now someone, give me 6 developers and 4 months to create some impressive prototypes

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And now with a little sci-fi

Now look into the near future (10 years-ish). Imagine what something like Google Glasses could do, it could tap into the data set of all the racers and could be programed to read riders numbers, query the rider database on them and place a red hallo (in your glasses) around the rider if they appear to be a threat to you, or yellow if neutral or green if that rider has little chance of beating you.

Similar could be done with your smart phone but you might have to be mic'd and ask the phone about "rider 334" and it will give a very short phrase of threat or not, sprinter or not, helper or not, etc.

Additionally before the race even starts a computer could generate predictive analysis on the yet to be results. This is already being done but could be greatly improved if the dataset were much larger.

Google Glass

The prospect of duking it out with a distracted driver on Google Glass is something I'm not looking forward to. Distracted racers on Glass...doesn't sound good. I guess a crashing rider's Google Glass flying off his face would make for an interesting race photo...

Hate to disagree

The Finish line result is the ONLY thing that matters. I don't care what my power numbers are at mile 45, yada yada yada, the only thing that matters in a RACE, is where you finish. How many times does the strongest guy not win, plenty.
If this is your attitude, stick to Strava and save your money

The finish result is all that

The finish result is all that matters in a race but how you got that result is also interesting and important so you can learn how to improve that all-important result next race. These ideas on timing are great and I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in them since it's mixing Strava information in a real race setting. That information won't change the importance of your finish line result but will give a lot of insight into it.

I know I guy (most of us

I know I guy (most of us would recognize the name) who's a former pro who's spent some time as a DS. He's spoken publicly that he can't wait to see the first wanna-be pro who submits any info whatsoever from his Strava files as part of a "resume". He can't wait, as in he plans to publicly humiliate them.

The funny thing about race results is that they often reflect the exact opposite of what most would think were impressive power files. IOW, it's often the one who expends the least energy who wins races. It's all about the race savvy to know when to go hard, and being rested enough to be able to go hard when it matters.

Arguing the wrong point

Like I said, winners will still be winners and by that I mean if you are on the podium your result will still matter. If you are in the money you will still care about your result and if you chase points than top 20 will still matter, but for everyone else, the 50+% of the riders, the fact that rider X got 36th place will not matter that much to him (unless he/she truly believed they would be on the podium that day), what will matter is the data. Think of it as a parting gift for all riders. And especially if that rider was expecting the podium, that data will be gold as they try to figure out what went wrong.

All this was written with the mindset of crits and road racing, for crossers I believe even more so that data will be important, especially for the many riders and show up not expecting to be even close to the top 20. But the after race analysis and review could be just equally entertaining as it was when they were out on course.