With courses often exceeding 100 miles, professional bike racing isn't exactly a spectator sport. Along the route, a fan is lucky to catch a mere five seconds of frenzied excitement as the riders zoom past. This is why gearheads are geeking out over Tour Tracker, a mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones.
The app provides fans with real-time tracking of the racers on course maps and elevation profiles, live streaming video, live text commentary, chat rooms, race results, stage overviews and more. "We try to replicate as much about the race experience as we possibly can so a fan knows everything that's going on," says Allan Padgett, the app's creator.
Padgett, a recreational cyclist and one of the creators of the Adobe Acrobat software program, volunteered to build the first prototype of Tour Tracker in December 2006 as a showcase for Adobe's Flash media player, finishing it just in time for 2007's Amgen Tour of California bike race. After the prototype's initial success, Adobe allowed Padgett to continue working on it in his spare time (the programming was originally all open source, so Adobe never owned it), gradually improving it with each successive Amgen Tour.
It wasn't until 2011--when America's two other premier multiday races, the Tour of Utah and Colorado's USA Pro Cycling Challenge, came calling--that Padgett made Tour Tracker his full-time job. He won't divulge the revenue generated by his app, but the business model is simple: Padgett either sells the app to the race, and they sell advertising or sponsorships against it; or he and the race set up a profit-sharing arrangement from sponsorships or app sales. During last year's Pro Challenge, the app attracted more than 150,000 unique visitors.
This year, Padgett again teamed up with the Amgen Tour and five other stage races, including the crown jewel of the sport, the Tour de France. He has other apps nearing release for a number of sports, including Ironman triathlon races, but until then he's cranking on his ongoing reinvention of bike racing coverage.
That's great news to superuser Chris Neumann, a cycling enthusiast and entrepreneur from Ross, Calif., who proclaims, "Tour Tracker is what watching all sports should be like."