On a beautiful Saturday October the 8th amateurs from the VARC and the local area assisted the Valdosta / Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Department with the 2011 Honey Bee Festival Bike Ride by providing communications and GPS tracking support. Amateur radio voice communications were carried out via the 145.310 repeater in Nashville and the 147.075 repeater in Valdosta. Both of the VARC repeaters are still offline due to lightening damage from earlier in the year and are still awaiting funding so they could not be utilized for the event this time.
Packet data communications were carried out on Digi-repeaters operating on 144.390 MHz which were located in Adel and Valdosta. These stations carried the GPS tracking data from the “Sag wagons” or route vehicle to the I-gate through to the internet. Both the internet and cell phone technologies where heavily relied upon by both the participating amateurs and event sponsors since there are fewer eligible amateur radio operators available to support these types of events.
This year’s bike event based out of Hahira consisted of a 31, 63 and 103 mile ride. The 103 mile ride goes far north as Enigma on Highway 82 and is the most grueling ride of the three courses. The other two lesser courses can be just as challenging as described from the words provided by some of the riders.
Two from the area amateur radio community rode in the event this year. Not only did one of them test their skills in physical endurance but actually finished route and came back conduct communications support. Now that is dedication!
The next bike ride support event will be during the first part of March 2012. The VLCPR leadership says they need your support and the hope you will be there! So take time to become a eligible amateur radio communications provider.