The Reston Century 2004  Ride Across Loudoun

David Mullins  -  K4ARP Comments
Operating From The Reston Town Center
As Posted To LARG Reflector on Monday, August 30, 2004 10:03 AM

With Further Reply Comments By Steve Greene - KS1G
As Posted To LARG Reflector On Monday, September 6, 2004 9:38 AM

Preface By Webmaster: The Reston Town Center operation is the most demanding of all the sites in this exercise. I've been there and done that twice. It opens before 0600 hours and doesn't close until the last rider closes around 1800 hours. This year, Loudoun ARES Assistant EC Bill Frisbie - W3EMH, Elena Frisbie - KD4DEI, Mark Johnson - W3ZI and Dave Mullins - K4ARP manned the Start - Finish Line. Mark Johnson established a cross-band repeater on top of the parking lots at the town center to permit personnel using 440 MHz handheld transceivers on the floor of the town center to communicate throughout Loudoun on the 2-meter net. This worked flawlessly but you need to equip the cross-band repeater with band pass filters in this rich RF environment. Thanks for a great job.

Now, Dave's Comments

     "Once again, I really enjoyed working this event with all the LARG members.

       I think our participation really goes a long way to improving the safety and comfort of the riders.

       My participation in these events is a great learning process for me, working different station locations and with different members.

       I'm sure we have all taken away a "Notes to Self" from the event of things to try and remember to do next year to improve the event.

        I thought that I would share some of mine to be compiled with the thoughts of others.

       Reston Town Center - This is the location I worked this year, with Hamilton last year The setup and service we provided there seemed to be of good value.

       We did notice on the setup that someone had rudely put in tall building in direct line of sight between us and the other stations cutting down on the 147.480 path. We did, however, seem to communicate with all the stations and SAGs well, with the exception of Hamilton. Hmmm.. For the future, we did some checking and found that the free parking on the north side of the area has a clear line of sight to the North West and may be a good possible location for the cross-band repeater next year. We did check that 5 Watt signal would propagate from there to the RTC station location, so it should work. On another note.

       There was not a Red Cross Representative there all day and no medical personal, or facilities. There were several riders with minor cuts and scrapes that were looking for help. The EMTs were called out once, by the Red Cross, for a rider with heat stroke. I guess this is something for the bike club and the Red Cross to sort out, but we may want to mention it to them.

        SAGs, Rovers and Bikes -- It seems like we need a lot more of these and with APRS. The demand seemed a lot higher this year. We also need some maps of the OND trail so that we can find the mile markers the riders use to report their positions. I think the idea that net control came up with of bringing the riders back to the Loudoun County High School was really a good one. We should plan on that again. It seemed that the riders got a bit frustrated with how long it took to reach them. This would keep the vehicles out in the west part of the county for quicker responses. Oh course the locations the riders often give us are really bad!!!

        At the end of the event, we may want to have some bike riders that can sweep the trail between Ashburn and RTC. This year we had a very late rider somewhere out there and not really a good way to locate him, but ask people at various trail crossing if they had seen him and just wait. Someone made the suggestion for a end of the day sweep (if required) of having the ability to drop off a rider(s) on the trail section then drive around to the other trail crossing point to pike them up. This would cover a lot of distance quickly and give the rider a break in an AC vehicle. We may not need to plan on this but keep it in mind.

        APRS -- I can now really see the benefit of using APRS. Net Control and the backup Net Control should both have the ability to track APRS. As many SAGs, Rovers and Bikes as possible should have APRS and both net control stations should be able to track them.

       Net Control - I worked Hamilton last year and it seemed the signal there was a bit weak, as it did this year. I would suggest that we move the net control to Ashburn with a backup of Waterford. or the other way around. The signal from both stations seemed to be heard well from all stations and SAGs. The other benefit of Ashburn is that they are the first and last stations to get riders. The downside is that it is not the most roomy, or comfortable station, no shade and power lines. So maybe Waterford is actually better and safer. I think we need a planned backup net control station with a setup monitor APRS.

        More Members -- This is such a great even to participate and learn in that we should really push for more participation.

        Next year --- It will be my goal for the event to have my Jeep setup with APRS, HF mobile, bike racks and coolers with water. Oh ya, I'll have to clean out the mess so I can take riders along, too. Hi.

          I look forward to hearing your views on the event.

73 David T. Mullins - K4ARP

dt_mullins@yahoo.com Mobile: 703-626-8494"

 

Here Are Reply Comments By KS1G - Steve Greene:

"--- In l_a_r_g@yahoogroups.com, Dave Mullins - K4ARP wrote:
> SAGs, Rovers and Bikes -- It seems like we need a lot more of
> these and with APRS. The demand seemed a lot higher this year. We
> also need some maps of the OND trail so that we can find the mile
> markers the riders use to report their positions. I think the


Amen! I picked up some of the communications re: riders with heat exhaustion "somewhere" on the WO&D. During the last stage of the ride, the W&OD mile markers are the rider's best reference points. Fortunately, there is a PDF version of a full trail map online. (Friends of W&OD Trail site, I believe). During the ride, the best reference riders may have will be with respect to cue sheet turn points.

> Oh course the locations the riders often give us are really bad!!!

How do those locations get reported? To the Red Cross volunteers? Some training on how to get and communicate locations may be of help and is something for us to remember when we call in an incident or emergency.

> At the end of the event, we may want to have some bike riders that
> can sweep the trail between Ashburn and RTC.

I was able to do a sweep as I was coming back down the W&OD, but that's one person one time. The most challenging area of the trail is from Ashburn Rd west to the east side of Leesburg (road crossing by FAA and the kennels just before Rt15). Minimal vehicle access along that area. East of Ashburn to Sterling Blvd can also be tough to reach in places, but the terrain is relatively flat and the riders may be getting a "home stretch" 2nd wind.

> Someone made the suggestion for a end of the day sweep (if required) of having the ability to drop off a rider(s)
> on the trail section then drive around to the other trail crossing point to pike them up. This would cover a
> lot of distance quickly and give the rider a break in an AC vehicle. We may not need to plan on this but
> keep it in mind.


That is a really good idea! Do the SAG wagon drivers think they had room to do that? And of course, it requires someone with a bike.

> APRS -- I can now really see the benefit of using APRS. Net
> Control and the backup Net Control should both have the ability to
> track APRS. As many SAGs, Rovers and Bikes as possible should
> have APRS and both net control stations should be able to track them.


I've thought about adding APRS to my bike; the problem is where to put it and the weight. I'd prefer to NOT carry a rack and battery packs 100 miles. (Different story if I am just riding a section of the trail). I do have enough stuff to setup a tracker - small GPS receiver, Kantronics TNC that can run off internal battery, and a 5W HT. Switching the radio between APRS and voice would work but 2 separate rigs would be better. Where I would hang it on a road bike that would be non-permanent but stay in place for 100 miles is a challenge. A Mic-E system would be easier but requires I transmit more often and the net control station have Mic-E capability.

I do need a better antenna - best approach is probably a j-pole affixed to a fiberglass bike flag.

> Net Control - I worked Hamilton last year and it seemed the signal
> there was a bit weak, as it did this year. I would suggest that we
> move the net control to Ashburn with a backup of Waterford. or the
> other way around. The signal from both stations seemed to be heard
> well from all stations and SAGs. The other benefit of Ashburn is


For me, the section on the west side of Leesburg until I crested Woodburn was a dead spot. Keep in mind this is on an HT with a medium-length whip. Not sure about Hamilton-Hillsboro - I accidentally moved off frequency for most of that section. No problems copying Hillsboro or Waterford and usually Hamilton between Hillsboro and Waterford, although I was definitely NOT paying any attention to radio when I was climbing the hills! Decent coverage from Clarks Gap east. Note that except when I was in range of the x- band system at Reston or Hamilton, I had to relay through a rest area or SAG wagon. A better antenna may help; more than 5W would help - a reasonable requirement for trail riders but not for anyone riding the metric or century routes unless they are masochistic.

If extra ops are available, someone monitoring Dulles or Bluemont would provide gap-filler coverage as a backup. Could even be someone at home.

> that they are the first and last stations to get riders. The
> downside is that it is not the most roomy, or comfortable station,
> no shade and power lines. So maybe Waterford is actually better
> and safer. I think we need a planned backup net control station
> with a setup monitor APRS.


Must net control be at a rest stop? The Ashburn fire and rescue station is 100 ft away and might be receptive to providing room for the day.

Great list of suggestions - I think the most important ones are maps and other ways to better locate reported riders with problems/in trouble.

73 Steve KS1G
"

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