Some two dozen Amateur Radio volunteers supported communication for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society’s (AABTS) 41st running of the One Helluva Ride (OHR) bicycle tour on July 8 in Michigan. The race derives its moniker from the fact that the longer route options pass through the town of Hell. The annual loop tour, which starts and finishes at the Chelsea Fairgrounds, offers rides from 15 miles to 100 miles. This was the 27th year that the Arrow Communication Association (ARROW) — an ARRL Special Service Club — has overseen the communication infrastructure and supplied SAG support (for those “sagging behind”).
“There are many places on the route where cell phone coverage is marginal, making Amateur Radio an excellent choice,” said George Byrkit, K9TRV. “Small beams are deployed at the food stops to provide more reliable communication with net control.” Byrkit served as the morning net control station, while Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, handled the afternoon shift.
ARROW had support from the Chelsea Amateur Radio Club (CARC) and the Livingston County Amateur Radio Klub (LARK). The operation employed two of the Chelsea club’s 2-meter repeaters, which were linked to broaden the coverage.
The hams provide SAG vehicles as well as volunteers to ride along in AABTS vehicles. Among other non-communication tasks, they provide spare tire tubes, foot pumps, food and water, and transportation for those experiencing mechanical failure or exhaustion. Hams also are placed at each of the three food stops.
This year, 100 riders registered for the 15-mile fun ride for youngsters with parents. Some 1,500 riders took the longer routes. No serious injuries were reported.
In addition to Byrkit, volunteers included ARROW President Dinesh Cyanam, AB3DC; George Byrkit, K9TRV; Dan Romanchik, KB6NU; Dave New, N8SBE; Mark Goodwin, W8FSA; Ulysses Balis, N4IYL; Faye Ogasawara, KE8DDB; Jameson Eisele, KD8PIJ; Steve Bemis, W8AYN; Don Winsor, AC8TO; Bob Lyons, KI8AB; Eric Lyons, KC8GBR; Jim Lommel, WD8RWI; Quentin Guzek, KD8IPF; Sam Spiteri, K8NOS; Steve Andre, WB8WSF; Jay Nugent, WB8TKL; Mary Anne Nugent, W8VWY; Joe Glandorf, AC8ES; Willie Peloquin, N8WP; Bruce Freeburger, KD8MFR; Rick Pugh, WR8W; Jim Jagow, KD8TBT; Steve Rogacki, AC8GO; Glen Bowe, KT8KTU; Ralph Katz, AA8RK, and Lawrence Davies, K4ETD.
“These hams drove over 2,400 miles, providing SAG support,” Byrkit said. “Ninety-five percent of the SAG drivers are ham radio operators. The other cars have hams placed in them, so that communication with them is possible over the entire route. Ham radio has the benefit of being able to find out who is nearest to someone needing help, unlike cell phones. At least 8 of the vehicles were pinging their locations via APRS.”