Tech Check

Tech Titans Back California Bike Races

Chris Carmichael

I'm writing from the road this week, taking some time off to attend legendary coach Chris Carmichael's cycling training camp in Buellton, Calif.

The camp takes place at the same time as the huge Amgen Tour of California pro cycling race, and both are boasting their fair share of some pretty spectacular technology.

Carmichael made a name for himself training Lance Armstrong, helping him achieve a record -- never to be broken? -- of seven straight Tours de France victories. He's parlayed that success into the Carmichael Training Systems empire, which simply would not be possible without the Internet.

Carmichael and his team of coaches interact with athletes all over the world, training, coaching, exchanging regimens and routines, along with data downloaded directly from on-bike computers, all over the Net. It allows the coaches and the athletes to be in constant communication without having to be physically with each other. You can get more info at

And for those who want some in-person and direct training with the man himself, Carmichael schedules these "camps" through the year. And during this one, the Amgen Tour will pass right through.

America's largest bicycling race, the Amgen boasts some impressive technology this year, courtesy of Adobe Systems , Tachyon, and Computer Sciences , which is also fielding one of the world's best pro teams, CSC.

Like Carmichael, the Amgen has recognized the power of the net, with race presenter AEG Sports webcasting every minute of the 650 mile, 8-day event.

You can watch all this at

AEG says it "will feed full-screen, multiple video streams, track specific riders by GPS, listen to insider race commentary and view detailed information about the race and its 136 elite riders."

There's also a chat room and a place for fans to upload their own race photos through a photo-sharing Web site.

Adobe is providing the Tour Tracker, which, along with tech from CSC and Tachyon Networks will provide technology that allows fans to experience the race action live from the finish line.

According to organizers, the site will include:

-GPS/RFID Tracking

-The Location Object Field Tracking (LOFT) beta technology provides the ability to track any of the 136 riders and/or 17 teams, which allows users to choose who they want to follow (provided by CSC)

-Video (The race uses Adobe Flash technology to bring an engaging online video experience to cycling fans.)

-Live video stream of each stage, from start to finish (Powered by Adobe Flash technology)

-Two video sources that will provide users with alternate viewing options (provided by Adobe)

-Enhanced user interface featuring elevation, route, rider and peloton positions and text and audio race commentary

-The Amgen Tour of California mobile peloton will provide breaking news and updates via text messages.

So often, I write about tech that's coming, but not yet available. Or innovations that sound neat, but are searching for a practical application.

Cycling and tech go hand in hand: just look at some of the $10,000 bikes these guys are riding, dripping with carbon fiber, titanium and designs born and bred in CAD-CAM. Now Silicon Valley tech is here for athletes, athletes in training and fans who don't want to miss a second of the action.

I'll update through the week.

Questions?  Comments?