May 12

My son David KD5MTJ and myself made the trip up north to Austin to help out Paul KA5FZU with coordinating the ham radio communications for this year’s single day event.  It started & ended at the Travis County Expo Center, east of Austin, and featured multiple routes (11, 30, 55, 78, 100) spread across two counties.  Law enforcement support was great, especially the Williamson County Sheriff’s department who kept in close phone contact with me during the event until all riders had cleared out of his county.    One rider, who was spotted by the WC Sheriff deputy appearing to be in health distress, was placed inside his patrol car for the air conditioning until we could send a SAG truck (ABC Home & Commercial Services) up to retrieve him.  Talk about service?  Don’t know if the rider was in the front or back seat, however. 🙂

We used APRS trackers from the Austin Amateur Radio Club to track 6 of the SAG trucks and 6 of the supply trucks (Austin Energy).  We coordinated medical coverage with the MSET-TX motorcycle group out of Austin, who provided a handful of trained, certified EMT motorcycle riders, able to respond promptly to medical incidents out on the route.

The Comm Center was setup inside the main Banquet Hall, in a small room that had no windows, and virtually zero air conditioning.  We ran the coax cables up thru the false ceiling into a nearby electrical room, and then out thru an opening in the concrete block wall to our antennas.   Internet services were provided by using CLEAR’s 4G WiMax Internet services.

Here are some photos taken during the event.  As I get more time, I’ll add some captions to better explain them.

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Apr 1

This year, Hams Rule!  Yep, ALL communications go by  ham radio, other than some internal event staff communications using commercial radios at the start/finish line.   The 2012’s event is a 1-day event, starting & ending in Boerne Texas.  The routes are changed 100% from last year.

We’ll have eight (8) White 15-Passenger SAG Vans to staff with Hams, Eight (8) Rest Stops to staff with Hams, and two (2) repeaters to coordinate with.    All communications will be on 2 meters radio, using the 145.19 Boerne (KARS) repeater and the 146.98 Kerrville (Hill Country Amateur Radio Club) repeater.   Dual band radios are suggested to enable local SAG to SAG or SAG to Rest Stop communications off-net.

Contact Lee Besing at or call him at 210-771-7075 to volunteer!  Don’t wait, assignments are going fast!   Lee will be attending the HCARC meeting on April 5th up in Kerrville to sign up their volunteers.

Actually, the exact title is “South Texas Tour de Cure”, and it’s starting / ending in Boerne, Texas, not San Antonio. But it will happen this year on Saturday, May 19th, as a one day event with 4 routes to choose from. There will be an 18 mile & 30 mile routes going south from Boerne into the Fair Oaks Ranch area, and the 60 & 104 mile routes go north from Boerne thru Sisterdale and Comfort, before the 104 goes NW to Kerrville and back around down past Camp Vista, Center Point and thru Comfort on the way back to Boerne.

We’ve suggested a new slogan for the new Tour de Cure routes…  “If you’re tired of flat, whimpy, boring rides, change over to the Tour de Cure for the hilliest ride you can ask for…” LOL   In other words… The ride is extremely hilly, with a need for extreme caution on the part of our Ham drivers and Motorcyle Marshals.   Roads are mostly narrow 2 lane paved roads with double yellow lines and no shoulders for the riders.  Speed limits are usually near 60mph on the open roads.   Cell phone coverage is very spotty in some areas!  I suspect we may be busier than last year in the SAG and communications venue.

This will NOT be a flat boring ride.

There will be some challenges caused by the hilly terrain. We’ve got APRS radios to install in all of our SAG vans, plus key supply trucks, courtesy of Austin Amateur Radio Club (Paul Fenrich KA5FZU is returning to run APRS). Mike Perez W5ZAP will be leading our valuable Motorcycle Safety Marshals and Curtis Rabenhalt N5QPN will be our route safety officer. Yup, we snagged up Curtis to volunteer this year!   I’ve driven the entire 104 mile route, and found we had solid APRS coverage on most of the course.  I was using my own 25 watt APRS unit with a full sized higher gain antenna, more power & antenna than our borrowed tracking units will have.

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Mar 18

Saturday was one of the first organized ADA Tour de Cure Rider Rallys scheduled for the 2012 event.  The event started on the south side of San Antonio at the Texas A&M Campus on Gillette, just north of Palo Alto College with aproximately 156 riders registered.  Rally Riders had a choice of 3 routes, a 15 mile (out & back), 32 mile or 53 mile.  

APRS Tracking of SAG #2

As you can see from the screen shot to your right that shows the APRS tracking from N5NTG-9, the bottom section shows the route.  We’ve put a marker at the split for the 32/53 mile route on the image, along with a few notes.   My van was SAG #2, N5NTG-9, and we covered primarily the longer route, but did a lot of back tracking & delivery of riders who couldn’t finish.

We had 2 SAG vehicles, one driven by David Sloan, the other driven by Lee Besing N5NTG.  Riders had a choice of taking SAG #1 or SAG #2 this weekend. 🙂    SAG #2 had APRS tracking active all day (see above notes) and worked mostly the longer route, while SAG #1 worked the shorter route (and kept much busier because only about 1/3 of the riders rode the longer route).   

 We had 13 Motorcycle Safety Marshals for this event, with about half of them being hams.  We ran a short informal net (no net control per se) for the event, and never asked that the repeater we used (STARS 146.66) be closed for our exclusive use that morning.

The ride kicked off at 8:30am, and the last rider didn’t finish until nearly 1:30pm.  No accidents were reported needing medical care, although we had several riders with blown tires, or other mechanical failures that needed to be SAG’d into finish.

One of the “fun” things I got to do in SAG #2, was have Alex from KSAT 12 TV ride with me, taking photos of the various riders along the route, and some video.  He’s going to create a 30 second promo video for the Tour de Cure event to be shown on TV.

The big ride, the South Texas Tour de Cure, is on Saturday, May 19th, starting in Boerne, TX, with four (4) routes available.  The two longer routes go north of Boerne, the two shorter rides go south toward Fair Oaks Ranch.  Many more Hams are needed for this big event, to cover Break Points, drive SAG Vans, shadow event officials, etc.  Contact Lee N5NTG at or call 210-771-7075 (voice / text).

Here are some photos from the March 17th Rider Rally…. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 13

Spring is in the air, and our calendar list of events is springing into action.  We’ll eventually get all of these posted to the actual calendar, but here is the quick and dirty listing of the next few major public service events where Hams are needed here in the Central / South Texas area.

FYI – This is our 500th article posted on San Antonio Hams!  Yay!

  • March 25th – Tall Texan Triathlon (Boerne), 1 day event.  Participants swim in Boerne City Lake, ride their bikes 56 miles (route thru Waring), and run 12 miles.  Hams needed at checkpoints / rest stops on the ride and run portion of the route, no need to get your radio wet in the lake.  Gordon Dial K5SUZ coordinating. Contact him by phone (only) at 210-410-9518. No email.
  • March 25th – Capitol 10K Race & Fun Run- 35th Anniversary!  35th Anniversary – Sunday, March 25, 2012. Jeff Schmidt, N5MNW, coordinating. Contact Jeff at
  • April 21-22nd – BPMS150 (Houston to Austin), 2 day event, arrive Friday night before to get free hotel room for SAG Hams.  Using dual band mobile radios (preferred) because some nets are on VHF (2 meter) and others on UHF.  Lee Besing, N5NTG, & Charlie Land, KC5NKK coordinating.  Contact Lee at 210-771-7075 or email, Contact Charlie at 512-796-7565 or email at
  • April 22nd – Wildflower 100 Bicycle Tour (San Antonio), 1 day event, start / end at Retama Park (IH-35 & 1604 area).  SAG Hams and Rest Stop Hams needed.  Gordon Dial K5SUZ coordinating.  Contact him by phone (only) at 210-410-9518.  No email.
  • May 5th – Central Texas Tour de Cure (Austin), 1 day event. Start / Finish at Travis Expo Center. 5 routes, many rest stop hams & SAG Hams needed, plus net control.  Using the Austin 146.94 repeater most likely.  Jeff Schmidt, N5MNW, coordinating.  Contact Jeff at or Lee at to volunteer.
  • May 19th – South Texas Tour de Cure (Boerne / San Antonio), 1 day event.  Start / Finish at Champion High School in Boerne, Texas.  5 routes, 8 rest stops, 8 SAG Hams (plus navigator), net control help, etc. Lee Besing, N5NTG, coordinating.  Contact Lee at to volunteer.
  • June 9-10th – Texas Water Safari, multi-day event, but San Antonio hams usually only handle Day 1, way into the night on some locations. for info.  Eric Olson, WB5ZJQ, coordinating.  Contact Eric by email at to volunteer. Packet Radio used to transmit canoe numbers to other stations down the river.   Some positions are short (closer to start line), and others are mosquito bait (late into the night).  This event can be lots of fun, sort of a mini-Field Day event, combined with a picnic. Every location is different.
  • June 23-24th – Field Day Weekend.  We’ll be posting locations for the various organized ham clubs in the upcoming weeks, and for the unorganized ones as well.

See more details below for the BPMS150 and Tour de Cure events…

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May 23

American Hero 25k Relay

Alamo Stadium (near 281 & Hildebrand)

Event will be held at the Alamo Stadium, with the 5k route leaving the north entrance of the stadium, crossing east under 281 into the Zoo entrance and thus over to Brackenridge Park. Route will be run 5 times, thus the relay. Free food for all ham volunteers at the stadium, courtesy of Spagetti Warehouse. We have about 6-8 points needing covered. HT radios okay, or operate out of your vehicle.

Map of stadium here

Map of 5k route here

Hill Country REACT Team coordinating event. Contact Lee Besing @ 210-771-7075 or to volunteer or get more info.

Tour de Cure Hams Still Needed for Saturday, June 4th.

Rest Stop Hams & finish line hams only. All Driver positions filled.

Contact Lee Besing @ 210-771-7075 or

to volunteer or get more info. This is a 2 day event, starting at the Retama Park, ending in San Marcos on Day 1 (Saturday). Rest Stops are all east of IH-35, mostly between 35 & 10, and out toward Seguin. Won’t be in New Braunfels this year. Route has changed from last year.

Texas Water SafariTexas Water Safari – June 11-12th

The Texas Water Safari is a canoe race from San Marcos to Seadrift 265 river miles and is in need of a Amateur Operator(s) to volunteer for the Hochheim check point.  This check point is located where the Guadalupe River crosses Hwy 183 northwest of Hochheim.  This check point is dificult to operate from and will test most any amateur’s ability.  Hochheim is operational from 9:00 p.m. Sunday (6/12) through 10:00 a.m. Monday.  You will need a radio capable of working voice on both 2-m and 440 MHz with an antenna and at least a 20 foot push up pole.  Packet is a big plus. The provided software will run on any Windows machine that runs Microsoft Excel and a serial port for connection to your TNC.

If you are not capable of working the entire time maybe we can find some to take the second shift.  If you are interested please contact Eric WB5ZJQ at 210-647-3180 or e-mail:



May 29

Lee,  Just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work you put into the ride. It was my first time setting up and operating a field station on my own.   Learned some valueble lessons, hope to do it again soon.

Thanks again,  John – KD5ZEW

Voice:  Yaesu FT-100d @ 5~10w into a 5/8 mag-mount at 6′ AGL
Data/APRS:  Yaesu ft-1500m, 6db base antenna @ 30’+ AGL.
Power Supply: 125hr Deep Cycle Flooded Lead-acid Battery.

Pictures from TdC 2010 Day 1 Rest stop 6 where John KD5ZEW was located.

May 27
D1 Finish Line- Unicycle

D1 Finish Line- Unicycle

Here is a collection of  56 photos taken by Lee N5NTG at the San Marcos Finish Line on Day 1,  on the road on Day 2 from various rest stops and the Austin Finish Line. 

I saw at least two of these uni-cycles on both days, this one (in photo) and one other.  Unicycle riders have to peddle 100% of the time, no coasting, no shifting gears, oops, no steering wheel at all.  Just their inate sense of balance and lots of forward movement.   On Day 2, the other unicycle rider was zipping down the road, so we stopped on the side of the road to shoot some video of him.  He waved and then stopped next to my mini-van and held on to its luggage rack, saying “you just knew I needed a break, didn’t you?”   He rested for a few minutes and then went on to finish.

 Click on thumbnails for a larger view.

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May 27

Photos by Greg Lewis, N5XO, taken at the Day 1 Start Line at Retama Park.   Other operators present at the Start Line were Ruth Lewis KE5HMU, and Dave Espinoza W5QS who ran net control until the San Marcos Finish Line was able to take over that morning.  Click on thumbnail photo for larger views.

May 27

2010 Tour de Cure Ride May 22nd – 23rd


This year’s event started at the Retama Park, in Selma, Texas, just north of Loop 1604.

Although we really had to twist a few arms, and shake the bushes a lot to fill all of the postions, due to some last minute changes,  the ham community came through for us once more!   It was reported that we had about 1,500 riders show up for the event, a slight increase over last year’s event.

We used the 147.000 repeater (GVARC) on Day 1, and the 147.100 San Marcos repeater plus the Austin 146.94 repeater on Day 2. Net Control on Day 1 was started by Dave W5QS at the Start Line due to delays in getting the San Marcos Finish Line up on the air in time. Thanks Dave! Net Control on Day 2 was started by Jake K5GWC from Rest Stop 4, until Austin’s Finish Line Net Control was ready to assume that duty. Thanks Jake!

2010 Tour de Cure at San Marcos River Pub & Grill

We provided hams to staff 7 rest stops on day 1, 8 on day 2, plus Start/Finish each day, 4 SAG’s each day, and 4 Toyota Trucks (used as Turtles) each day. The Toyota Trucks were also used to sweep the course looking for “lost sheep”, and to pick up the signs on each route as they swept the course.

Saturday night, after we shut down operations around 5pm for the day, about 15 of the Hams went to the San Marcos River Pub & Grill for a well deserved dinner and fellowship.

(Photo – Hams from the Tour de Cure enjoy a fine meal and fellowship at the San Marcos River Pub & Grill.)

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May 20

Our thanks to all the hams and other volunteers who responded to our pleas for help!  

We’ve now got every Rest Stop, Start Line, Finish Line, SAG Van, etc. covered for Day 1 and Day 2!   Give yourselves a big pat on the back!

But… Oops, just found out the Tour de Cure staff wants TWO MORE SAG VANS!   Special purpose vans to be used to haul mostly just people, not bikes and equipment, but I’d bet on still needing a couple of the van’s bench seats out anyway!

Special Assignment:     Pickup Van on Friday before 6pm, or early  Saturday morning from Enterprise.  Arrive in San Marcos at the Texas State University, designated finish line area by noon or earlier.   Start shuttling riders who finished early, over to the river toobing location, and bring them back after they get all wet and tired (again).

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