How does a second place finisher get to first?

I want to share with you one of my favorite stories from the past year: The Dave Haase analytics journey. This is a real-life use case for applying analytic insight. I first met ultracyclist Dave Haase as he prepared for one of the toughest endurance events in the world, the Race Across America.

The Race Across America is a coast-to-coast cycling race that covers 3,000 miles through deserts and over mountains. Just as businesses face the need to make strategic plans, Dave had to plan crucial aspects of his race such as how many calories to consume, how much water to drink and when to stop for a precious two hours of sleep. Dave teamed up with IBM Analytics to leverage Internet of Things sensors and devices (collectively called the Analytics of Dave), which provided data for informed decision-making. Furthermore, Dave was able to take advantage of weather data provided by The Weather Company, an IBM Business, which boasts the world’s largest and most accurate collection of weather data. This allowed Dave and his team to factor in weather data such as temperature, humidity and wind conditions so Dave could choose the optimum resting times and places that would save him hours of ride time for the same amount of watts or calories expended. Analytics truly offers a competitive advantage!

After following Dave’s story over the summer, I was excited to hear his story featured at the IBM Insight Conference. Host Jake Porway gave an inspiring account, explaining how Dave was able to race his perfect race with the help of analytics. It served as a great reminder that we live in a data-driven world. Businesses are entering the Insight Economy, where data and analytics are providing the actionable information that they need to make better, faster decisions that open the door for growth and innovation.

Meeting Dave

I met Dave at the Internet of Things section of the IBM Insight EXPO. With his “Analytics of Dave” sensors set up, and his racing bike attached to an indoor bike trainer, Dave trained for hours to show how his data is collected and fed back to his crew via a dashboard. I was able to ask Dave many questions about his training schedule, meal plans and recovery strategies. You can hear Dave talk about these things himself by watching the google hangout Dave took part in along with Doug Barton, Ted Conroy, and Ryan Boyles.

Outthink Second Place

Thanks to all the training, extraordinary effort, and analysis, Dave finished the race in second place. He was the top American finisher, but that is not enough for a determined-to-win ultracyclist. So Dave will attempt the race again in pursuit of a first-place finish. The natural question is, what more can Dave do to shave additional hours off his riding time? In 2015, Dave was a mere 12 hours behind the winner after eight days of nearly nonstop cycling. Besides sleeping less and cycling up hills faster, Dave has expanded his use of technology to give him a winning edge. This year, aided by wearable technology from Garmin and refinements to his strategy based on analysis of the 2015 race, Dave expects to do even better.

Team work

A well-prepared team is critical to the success of a race such as RAAM. As I learned from this recent RAAM Radio podcast with George Thomas, Dave has added an IT expert to his crew to ensure that the equipment and technology runs smoothly throughout the race. Most of Dave’s crew has been with him for years, looking after his physical well-being and providing a solid game plan for resting times and places. Dave’s all-star crew also includes a former RAAM racer who will be able to advise on race strategy, especially this year where the competition is expected to be very tight, with six racers who could possibly finish within an hour of each other. This is good for Dave as he’s the kind of rider who gets motivation by having his competitors close by.

Fan Experience

You can feel like you are watching the race in person by joining the fan experience with Dave and his crew on Team 288 online at You’ll see real-time data from Dave’s bioharness, Garmin cycling computer, and GPS coordinates from the race timing officials, making you feel like you are part of his crew. Maybe you’ll learn a few tips on how to use the data you’ve been personally collecting in your own fitness regime!

Bring your family and meet Dave Haase in person at Shape, an AT&T Tech Expo that takes place in San Francisco on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16. Shape is a two-day tech event where you can explore the exciting possibilities of technology and innovation. Register now. (Kids 17 and under get in free!)

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