Saturday, 11 March, 2006

Spokes 'n Spurs Ride

I met the organizers of the Spokes 'n Spurs Ride for the Ranch last year when I was participating in another ride.  I had my radio on the bike and was going slow, talking to the ride support people and helping other cyclists out with flat tires and other minor mechanical problems.  Three or four of the Spokes 'n Spurs people came by and asked me about the radio.  It seems they had quite a bit of trouble with their communications last year.  I told them that our ham radio club would be happy to provide support for their ride, and gave them my contact information.

The ride was today.  Eight members of the club and a dozen or so members of the Motorcycle Special Events Team (MSET) came out to provide communications and emergency medical services.  Fortunately there were no medical emergencies, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Six of us installed our radios in the SAG vehicles and rode along as we patrolled the course, giving encouragement, providing minor mechanical help, giving rides to those whose bicycles or bodies had given up, and making sure that the rest stops had enough supplies.  It helps to be prepared for these things:  installation of the radios consisted of placing a magnetic mount antenna on top of the vehicle and connecting the radio to the cigarette lighter or directly to the battery.  Two other members served as Net Control--one for the SAG vehicles and another for the MSET folks.

The organizers of the ride were quite happy with our ability to provide communications for the SAG wagons, relay messages from the rest stops, and dispatch the MSET folks for a few minor medical situations.  The ride's Safety Chairman sat near the communications tent and was comfortable that he knew exactly what was happening on the route.  It also gave him the ability to talk with his other people via cell phone for non-critical or time-consuming conversations.

Beyond what's on their Web site, I don't know much about what Spirit Reins does.  However, if they put the same kind of attention to detail into their daily work as they did into organizing and conducting this ride, they're undoubtedly very good at what they do.  The people who run the ranch are very friendly and appear to be quite competent.  They did a superb job on the ride.  I've participated in many rides as either a rider or a volunteer, and I've rarely seen one as well planned and executed as this one.  And to think that it's only their second year.  I have no qualms recommending this ride to any cyclist.