The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which begins in Durango, Colorado this Monday, is likely the toughest bike race in the world. Every stage but the last surpasses – often multiple times – the elevation of Col de la Bonnette, the highest point of the Tour de France; the thin air is unforgiving; and the total gain (42,000 feet) is equivalent to the maximum altitude of a Boeing 747. It's also the most watchable road race on the planet, passing through such party towns as Telluride, Aspen, and Denver and, in between, through the most picturesque roads in the Rockies. If you're not close enough to stop by from August 22 to 26, then make sure to put it on your calendar for 2013. Then, download the Pro Tour Tracker iPad app to watch it this year.
Multi-day bike races can be a bit confusing – the routes need a map, standings aren't always clear, and the attacks require a pundit to clarify strategy. Even a tenured announcer can't clarify all aspects of the race as it's happening. But the Tour Tracker, with its live video, easy-to-navigate tabs, and reams of well-organized, live-streaming data, give it all on one screen. Instantly updated stats on road-breaks and chases, as well as news commentary, scroll on one tab, while GPS profiles of the riders and detailed maps of the routes are on another – and a live video feeds of the race from helicopters, motorcycles, and the finish line sits embedded in the middle of it all.
You can also get the details on all the individual riders. When you see a leader you don't know, don't fret, since you can just go the team bio, which includes nationality, race history, team, ranking, and all points earned so far. When someone familiar is making a break, you can get the gritty details – that cyclist's heart rate, speed, slope, elevation, pedaling cadence, and power output – in real time. Good luck getting a broadcaster to catch up with all that.
The company Tour Tracker knows its way around cycling, providing apps that follow the Tour of California, Exergy Tour, Tour of Utah, and Tour de France. The company focuses on cycling specifically, but it's hard not to wish it created an app for Olympics distance events, because this is, hands down, the best app out now for watching long, live races. [Free; itunes.com; play.google.com]