The TCRNo5 has again been beamed into your lives through GPS tracking, social media and the beautiful photographs and videos from the official TCRNo5 media team. Through the wealth of images and reporting you get to know each rider, not just by their cap number but by their faces and personalities. However, lurking in the background is an army of volunteers that are never glimpsed in start line photos and won’t appear in CP live streaming.
They are the dot watchers. A group of volunteers who undertake to follow a few riders each as closely as if they were racing with them. They become sleep deprived, dehydrated and over-dose on snack food as the race unfolds and they keep up with their dots.
They span continents, time zones, languages and occupations – all connected by a stream of dots moving across Europe from Belgium to Greece. They track routes, scour Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Strava for information on their riders. They know where they slept, where they had lunch and who they met along the way. They work alone but as part of a group to the background of chatter that ripples from one end of the race to the other.
Why does the race need dot watchers? They are the ones who watch over the riders to provide a record of their race. They monitor good days, bad days, ice creams, heat stroke, steep climbs and fast descents, mechanicals and even lightning strikes, always looking out for their riders’ welfare and capacity to continue. Dot watchers provide the evidence to the race directors that is used to validate each rider’s journey. Why do they do it? You’d have to ask a dot watcher, if you can find one…
So here they are people, the dot watchers of 2017. Chapeau! There wouldn’t be a Transcontinental Race without you.
By Bethan Roderick, Transcontinental Race dot watcher.