The Highland Trail 550 starts this weekend and there’s a new way of tracking it

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We love the vicarious pleasure and pain of following major bikepacking events. Over the years this has moved on from waiting for “dial ins” on the Great Divide Race through to watching dots duel it out on screen.

Follow The Highland Trail 550

The growth of GPS trackers – initially used for safety and as proof that a rider had completed the route fully – has lead to an unintended new spectator sport of dotwatching. As the Highland Trail 550 kicks off this weekend, a new not-for-profit website is going a step beyond sharing the GPS tracker locations and providing a rolling commentary as the action unfolds.

highland trail 550 2019
Bikepacking races aren’t the easiest to spectate on in person.

Dotwatching launched last year, but has now grown and is focussing coverage beyond the flagship European races, according managing editor, Grace Lambert-Smith. The Tour Divide and Race to the Rock are other upcoming races that you’ll be able to follow live.

We know only too well how addictive dotwatching can be – we’ve been caught sitting up into the small hours, simply waiting for the page to refresh as a few pixels shuffle their way along a virtual line on screen. It reminds us of following sport via Ceefax in the pre-internet coverage days, with the drama almost heightened by the only occasional bursts of information.

highland trail 550 2019
SPOT and other GPS trackers have lead to us being able to follow the action virtually.

Highland 550 Commentary

For the Highland Trail 550, DotWatcher is using the knowledge of veteran racer, Mike Toyn to add some knowledge and his experience to the action. The remote nature of the race makes it particularly difficult to cover due to the lack of social media posts from riders out in the field, but Mike will be filling in the gaps with insights into the course. The race looks like it’s going to be closer than ever this year, with six previous winners (four from the women’s field) lining up, alongside Transcontinental Race winner James Hayden.

highland trail 550 2019

We’ll be following the action from 9am on Saturday 25 May.

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