It was a brisk morning this 30th day of October 2010. Amateur Radio operators from Durham and Orange Counties gathered to help out with communications for the 2010 Cree/Habitat for Humanity Halloween Bike Ride. The Halloween Bike Ride is one of two annual bicycling fundraising events for Habitat for Humanity in Durham NC and this event offers three routes for cyclists of various capabilities. A 31-mile route, a 62-mile route and a 100-mile route which operated with five rest-stops, four-SAG vehicles, and three-vehicle sweepers between the hours of 9am-4pm. We became involved late in the planning stages about 16 days prior to the event and with the help of some remarkable operators pulled together a plan that included HT’s cross-banding through a mobile parked on top of a parking garage, to a repeater that was located adjacent to the course route. Five rest stop operators and a 62-mile route sweep vehicle which had APRS capability so we could monitor the progress of that ride group. We also had an APRS unit for the 100-mile route sweep vehicle but it left before placement and we had difficulty locating the unit multiple times during the event due to other issues. The 31-mile, 100-mile sweep vehicles and the SAG units were not staffed by amateur radio operators but had 800 Mhz radios provided by the Durham Co Sheriffs Dept. which also provided a Mobile Command Center for us to operate in as well.
As the event began we all got a feel for our roles and how using cross-banding with HT’s to the repeater and having to allow extra time for it all to connect, Matthew Tieszen KG4DPS had the toughest role of the day which was to shadow the event coordinator Jeanette or should I say keep up with her around the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) and relay multiple messages. Matthew even came prepared by building his own APRS tracking device in an”Altoids” can and placing it in his backpack so the DFMA MCU could track him around the DBAP to locate him.
The day progressed with the Command Center - Dee KU4GC and MK W4MKR taking cell-phone calls for help from cyclists and dispatching SAG’s via Major R. Buchannan in the Sheriff’s Command Unit. Wilson W4BOH and Lowell KK4PH monitoring the network in the MCU and relaying messages, while watching APRS tracking. Lowell also established crossbanding with a mobile repeater atop the parking garage for the event. The rest of us staffed the Rest Stops along the routes Woody K3VSA at Rest Stop 2, Steve W3AHL at Rest Stop 3 afterwhich Steve did the 62-mile sweep vehicle role, Lad W4ORD at Rest Stop 4, Don KE4UVJ at Rest Stop 5, and myself Randy K4XRM covered Rest Stop 1. Rest Stop action was uneventful mainly SAG and resupply requests and closed as the sweep vehicles came by.
We did have some excitement late in the event when we had two medical emergencies occur. The first occurred near Rest Stop 5 when a cyclist rode off the road into a ditch and injured his shoulder and had to be taken by EMS to Duke ER for evaluation. The second involved one of our local amateur radio operators who was cycling in the event and offered to carry along an HT. John Lloyd KE4UTX was on scene when 3 cyclists’collided and reported the incident to the Command Center whereupon EMS and SAG units were sent immediately to assist. One of the cyclists’ from that incident was transported to Duke ER for evaluation and the HT John was carrying was borrowed from the DFMA MCU. Kudos to John for his help as his idea of carrying an HT during the ride brought needed assistance to those injured cyclist that much quicker.
The day ended with a party at the DBAP for the participants food, drinks and a band. 900+ cyclists registered for the event and about 860 actually participated. When Wilson and I met with Jeanette 10 days before they had only 300 registered and I’d have to say the weather may have had a lot to do with it. Next year I hope we’ll have more operators participate, We’ll have some more preparation time and I hope we’ll have the same weather. Yep, It was a Great Day for a Ride.
Randy McCray K4XRM