You are now at post 05a of my TCR series. If you wish to read them in order or jump to what you find most interesting… voilà:
01 Next BIG thing: The Transcontinental Race – I’m Cap 36
02 TCR06 – Preparation
03 TCR06 – Hopes, Motivation & Fears (3 lists)
04 TCR06 – Finished!
05a TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 1. Introduction
05b TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 2. Timeline Overview
05c TCR06 – Visual Race Report – 3. Interactive Map
Now, 1,5 years after my Transcontinental Race (No.06, 2018, cap36), I still owed myself (and those of you who are interested) some kind of recap or writeup of my experiences during the race. And certainly wanted to do that before riding the next TCR edition this year for a second time (No.08, 2020). Now is the time, but I chose a different strategy…
I had postponed it time and time again simply because it seemed a tooo intimidatingly huge task. And equally importantly: There are already so many great text-based blog reports by other TCR-riders, so I did not feel there is a niche left. But I still wanted to do something: to relive it again, and also to make sure to refresh my memory – because it was an experience I would not want to forget.
So I set out to do it in a way that would be a bit different and also do justice to how important I find the spacial element of bike packing and racing. I wanted to create some sort of visual, geographical, chronological and data-driven representation of how my race unfolded. I chose two means, each will be introduced in a separate blog post:
- Timeline of my stages: As an overview I plotted a timeline of my stages including some key data. I felt the amount of impulsive night-riding was very characteristic for my race, so I wanted to try a way to visualize how the stages did and did not correspond with 24h-days. This timeline you find in a separate blogpost.
- Interactive map of my race: For the spacial/geographical element I thought there would be no better tool than creating a map in Google’s MyMaps and plot the route and spots where I slept, ate, had social moments, problems, crashes or any other kinds of memories. I also wanted to make sure that map somehow intuitively represents my day/night-riding and found a solution for that, too. You will find that map in the second-next blog post.
I also viewed this as a challenge in terms of “user experience design”: How could I get across information in the most intuitive, efficient/effective and visually clean way? Please send me feedback in case you spot something you think could be changed improve user experience/interface.
How & for whom is it relevant?
- Diary for myself: First of all I did it for myself. So even if no one else would find it interesting: I would create this as a diary for myself. Furthermore I really liked the design and data-processing challenge behind it and might apply some learnings from it to future projects. I also learned quite something about the technical element of GPX files and how to alter them.
- Content-level: Some of you, who have not ridden TCR yet (and maybe want to) might find it interesting to browse through some random details of my race; because here you also find information beyond the “big moments” that most other accounts write about (very interestingly). You will also find-out how often I did food stops (however my account is not complete in that respect). How my sleep patterns were. But also softer things like rider interaction on the road and other social/emotional things. You pick what you like.
- Form-level: If you do bike travels or races yourself, maybe you get some inspiration by my race record in terms of how to visualize your experiences or how to use your GPS data to help your memory a little. In case you have questions about that, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
How to use…
The timeline serves mostly as an overview. The interactive map lets you dive into alllll the detail. Additionally it’s of course possible to copy-paste GPS coordinates of specific spots/pictures/momories/etc. into GoogleMaps to check them on Streetview. In case you’d really want to go all the way (which I doubt) you could even use multiple browser tabs simultaneously, e.g.: Timeline, MyMap-Racemap, GoogleMaps.
Method: Reconstructing memories after 1,5 years?
First of all: Yes, it was all long ago, but it also was such an intense and memorable experience that many moments, places, etc. are still burnt into my memory. Still: I got myself some help in the form of bits and bytes: downloaded and organized my GPX-files, i.e. the GPS-tracks that I recorded with my Wahoo Elemnt GPS unit – it plotted one GPS point per second of riding. Additionally, I had set it to auto-pause during TCR, so anytime I did not move for longer than 5 seconds, there is a gap in the record. I followed essentially these steps:
- Downloading the GPX files
- cutting up and converting the files in several ways
- creating excel functions to better find the gaps in the record and thereby tracing every single time I stopped
- check the respective GPS coordinates of each break longer than 30 seconds on GoogleMaps incl. StreetView and thereby remember what exactly was going on.
- Create a note in my interactive map, choose an icon, picture and some text
- Sort all points chronologically in the layer-list, per layer
In the process of that I also began to recall many more moments and memories in the context of those breaks so that in the end I had a VERY detailed account of all the stuff that happened to me during those 14,5 days. Of course that way I also figured out how long I rode each day in terms of time and km/elevation, and how long and where I stopped to get some night rest (when I did); i.e. the beginnings and ends of the separate stages
And here you find the two posts all that is about: