Cloud Computing

The Race for Gold: Powering USA Cycling Through the Cloud

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USA Cycling recently took home the gold medal for Women’s Team Pursuit at the World Championships in London – earning Team USA’s first world championship title in the event. Our team of four elite cyclists – Sarah Hammer, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert and Jennifer Valente – clearly defeated Canada by nearly three seconds after twice breaking national record times during qualifying and round one against Australia.

In a sport where every 1/100th of a second counts, what does it take to bring home gold? Speed is just one part of the equation. That’s why USA Cycling is leveraging cloud, data and mobile technology to take our training to the next level.

With just over five months until Team USA takes to the Velodrome in Rio, for the 2016 Olympic Games, we are partnering with IBM jStart to bring cutting-edge insights around power, biometrics and weather into the hands of our coaches and riders in real-time.

As a coach, I’m constantly analyzing speed, power, pacing and strategizing optimal rider exchanges to help the team maximize our performance. Today’s bikes are fitted with power meters to gather power output, cadence and speed of the riders, but the process of uploading and analyzing that data is time consuming and takes several days or weeks after training sessions or competitions to fully analyze. We previously had no way to provide riders with the instant feedback and lessons that can make a training session even more meaningful.

By embracing mobile technology and an advanced IoT cloud solution, we’re bringing an edge to our training program through several critical touchpoints. During a training session, data is collected in real-time from multiple sources – the power meters, a heartrate monitor and a wearable BSX muscle oxygen sensor on the riders. IBM Bluemix IoT Foundation services capture the data in the IBM cloud, enabling real-time access for steaming analytics and data storage.

Through IBM jStart iOS dashboards, we receive insights on each of our four riders including the linked power watt, lap timing, muscle oxygenation and results of intensity analytics with respect to the rider’s individual physiology right in the palm of our hands immediately after an effort. With instant feedback and insights now at our fingertips, technology is empowering us to make practices and simulations more impactful for the riders.

To take the power of real-time feedback even further, we will soon be providing selected information to the riders during their training sessions by using Solos™ smart eyewear. Riders will receive customized insights through the Solos glasses to help them make the game-changing pacing and switching decisions that can make or break a team win or loss.

As a data scientist and physiologist, I’ve seen the impact that contextual data about riders, track and performance can have on a training session. I’m excited to put these insights to work for Team USA. Not only does Team USA have the heart and talent to go all the way in Rio, we have the advanced cloud, mobile and analytics technology to take the next five months of training to the highest level.

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Global Program Manager, Cloud Communications; Managing Editor, IBM THINK Blog

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