Monday, 11 June 2012

RLCT 2012 - The Wrap Up

This past weekend saw the 41st annual Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour run between Ottawa and Kingston......and a great time was had by one and all.

For the seventh year running the Frontenac EmComm Group (FECG) provided the communications for the southern part of the route, between Perth Road Village and Kingston.  Ottawa ARES looks after Carleton University to Black's Corner's, and Lanark-North Leeds ARES looks after the middle section.  This year, all three groups, had over 40 operators working over the weekend.

Don-VE3MNE running the net
from his "command post"
FECG looked after the radio check points at Perth Road Village, Loughborough Lake, Inverary, Glenburnie, McAdoo's Lane, and Queen's University.  Both myself and Don-VE3MNE manned the Perth Road Village radio check point.  We ran net control for the southern portion on the VE3FRG repeater, and a liaison station with Westport net control on the Christie Lake repeater.

Establishing comms was pretty easy this year using the VE3FRG repeater, none of the stations required a lot of power to reach it.  VE3FRG has a huge footprint and we used an awful lot of it.

However, trying to hit the Christie Lake or Lavant repeaters was another matter.   It seems my Ringo Ranger has an issue, and as a result has an SWR of 4.1:1 and was pretty much unusable.  So, using typical ham ingenuity, we put up a 5/8 mag-mount, but we had to mount it on a cast iron frying pan for a ground plane as it was the only item we had that the magnet would stick to.  We then put the frying pan on top of the village sign to get enough height to reach the Christie Lake repeater.......and I've no idea why Don carries a frying pan in his truck!!

Riders at Perth Road Store
We arrived on scene at 1030L, and the first rider went through our location at 1140L - flying faster than Bob-VA3QV's electric Vesper!!   Everything was going smoothly until we were informed of a memorial service being held in the village church, just across the road from where we were set up.  I think they expected us to close up shop and disappear, but with 2200+ cyclists coming through the village there was nowhere else for us to go.  In the end we simply turned down the radios so they were not blaring away, and asked the riders to be quiet and slow down by the church, which they all did with the utmost of respect, and that calmed the situation. 

We ended up having some pretty heavy rain from about 1500L till 1630L.  The last rider blew through our location about 1730L and then we started the drive down to Queen's to play "tail-end Charlie" and pick up radio equipment there.

Sunday was a very early start for our portion of the event.  Out of bed at 0500L and on the road to Perth Road at 0525.  I past the first rider heading north at 0540L just past Hwy 401.  The fog on the Perth Road was very thick and visability was less than 50m at times.....kind of scary early in the morning with the deer out on the roads.

The weather was very hot and muggy, the Perth Road General Store was a hot spot for topping up on water and food for the long slog ahead.  The terrain around Perth Road is fairly hilly and the muggy weather must have made it pretty tough for some of the riders.

Lots of hams involved besides those manning the radio check points.  We had five or six mobile in various vehicles, doing pick-ups for riders who opted out, or the repair trucks.  It was nice to see the amateur community come together and doing some worthwhile community service.

For a look at how things played out from the Ottawa end, have a look at my old friend Bob's page - HERE

'Twas a great weekend all-in-all, looking forward to next year, especially with the proposed changes.

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