The Reston Bike Club Ride Across Loudoun County
The Preparations

The Group had not operated a full period operation before over the distances required for this operation so during the week prior the operation site surveys and link testing was conducted. Norm - AI2C with Bob - KF4VBM went to the Reston Town Center on the evening of Monday, August 21, 2000, to meet with Jay Greeley, the Loudoun Red Cross Event Director, and survey the operating site. A Reston Bike Club representative designated the location for our operating site. Some 2 Meter link tests were made from this location and it was clear that it would be impossible to close 2 Meter links to Loudoun County sites from the floor of the Reston Town Center. So plans were made to return during the week to test other locations.

On Tuesday, August 22, 2000, at 4:30 PM, Norm - AI2C returned to Reston and operated mobile from the top floor of the parking garage on the northwest side of the Town Center. Links to several Loudoun sites including Tom - WB3AKD operating mobile at Hillsboro were good. A 5/8-wave mag mounted antenna and a 4-element quad antenna were used with the latter being the stronger of the two antennas. Marginal HF links on 7275 KHz were successful to Tom - WA3AKD who was operating mobile at Hillsboro and with Charlie - K4LJH at his home in Hamilton. The Reston HF station was Gary - NC4S's Icom 730 and a Hustler Mobile Whip slanted at a 45 degree angle off the back of the Norm's pickup. It was clear that a 40-meter dipole at Reston would be necessary for full period operation.

The unanswered problem at this point was a method to talk down into the Town Center on VHF. During the next several days this problem was discussed on the LARG Reflector and  Gene - N3EV proposed cross band operations where the parking garage station would be able to operate on  the 2 Meter Band into Loudoun County and talk down into the center on 440 MHz. He had proposed using Art - KD4CSO's equipment or his own equipment which included a 10 db gain corner reflector antenna to provide this capability. Gene also advanced the idea of using two cross band stations located at opposite ends of the operating area. During on-the-air meeting on Thursday, August 25, 2000, it was confirmed by Mark - N3GMW that Art - KD4CSO's  station would be used to satisfy this need.

On Thursday, August 24, 2000, at 7:30 PM, Mark - N3GWM held an on-the-air meeting with all the LARG operators involved in the operation. This confirmed all operator and equipment commitments, site assignments and the operating schedule. Following this meeting Mark released the Operations Plan. It was posted that evening on the K4LRG.ORG WEB Site and all LARG members were advised and invited to join in the support where possible.

On the morning of Saturday, August 26, 2000, at 7:00 AM, Chester - WA9LAZ went to the Ashburn site and conducted link tests on 2 Meter and 40 Meter Bands. Art - KD4CSO went to the parking garage at the Reston Town Center and conducted VHF link tests. Chester was successful on the 2 Meter Band with  a 5-watt handheld and a 5/8-wave antenna to Art, Norm - AI2C  on Canby Road, and Tom - WB3AKD who had driven up to Hillsboro and also to Mark - N3GMW operating with 5 watts and a 3-element 2 Meter yagi from his home in Lovettsville. Chester's 40 Meter signal was weak but readable with Norm and Tom.  Norm was using a new 40 Meter dipole antenna that he had built for this operation and would use in the Reston Town Center. Art tested the 2 Meter Band  to all stations and he was loud and clear. Unknown to us, the true cross band operation was not tested at Art's location with his equipment and this proved to be a problem during the operation.