VTARA Supports 2015 Virginia Tech Cycling Classic

Dedicated members of the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (VTARA) gathered in the cold, wet parking lot of the Black Diamond Ranch in Maggie Valley at 7 AM this past Saturday (April 26, 2015) to provide communications for the annual Virginia Tech Cycling Classic. Maggie Valley and the Black Diamond Ranch are located in a rural part of Virginia, approximately 20 miles north of the main Virginia Tech Campus in Blacksburg. Cyclists race around the 2776 ft elevation (846 m) Seven Mile Mountain in a series of races that begin at 8 in the morning and finish by 6 in the evening. Because of the rugged terrain and poor cell phone service in this area, the Virginia Tech Cycling Team asks VTARA to provide communications across the entire course. VTARA has now supported this race for at least four seasons.

Throughout the race, VTARA members provided communications pertaining to race logistics, rider positions, course obstacles, health, safety, and emergencies. This communications network facilitated smooth interactions between race officials, marshals, and emergency personnel. All communications were conducted through a directed net. Net control was staffed by two of VTARA’s youngest members, Cameron, KK4URI, and Stephen, KM4FCL, along with VTARA President John Herrick, KK4BSM. Other VTARA members were either paired with race martials and stationed at strategic locations throughout the course, or placed in race follow vehicles.

VTARA used the staging area at the Black Diamond Ranch as the net control location. A Kenwood TM-D700 connected to a Diamond X-200A vertical antenna on top of a large, portable military mast functioned as a 2m/70cm FM cross-band repeater at this site. This configuration provided a satisfactory link to mobile stations located at any point in the course.

Public service is a very important part of amateur radio in the United States. In fact, Part 97 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules identifies public service as the first of five purposes of amateur radio. VTARA would like to thank the Virginia Tech Cycling Team for the continued opportunity to serve both the Virginia Tech and Cycling Communities.

Left to Right: Harry Han (KM4ICI), Stephen Abbott (KM4FCL), Nathaniel Frissell (W2NAF), Cameron Earle (KK4URI), Magda Moses (KM4EGE), Ben Williams (KK4EWT), Kevin Sterne (KJ4OAP), Shenghou Ma (KV4RJ), Andrew Kriz (KK4APR), Andy Amrhein (KB3WPR), John Herrick (KK4BSM), Grayson Tilley (KK4VSI), Brad Tilley (W8RBT). Special thanks to Carter Craigie (N3AO) for use of the antenna mast.