2013 Tour de Cure Bicycle Ride May 11 – Thank You Volunteers!


2013-05-11 06.50.06-1Even though I always somehow seem to end up “in charge” of these types of events, I could NOT do this without all the help I get from other Ham Radio operators who “appear out of the woodwork” when I most need them.

Some of you volunteered, changed your personal plans, and showed up to help, even though you were hurting, such as Earlene Harris K5DEH who had just broken a rib a couple days before the event.  Some of you practically “demanded” that I allow you to participate!  🙂

GVAR’s 147.000 repeater cooperated with us all day, with no major glitches noticed.  GVARC had a couple of hams standing by monitoring the repeater, and the event, to be sure it stayed up and running.  We never needed to switch over to either backup repeater frequency.

The weather cooperated with us and we didn’t have many areas of the route with water on them. I know of at least one road that was reported as “wet, but just puddle, not running across the road.”  I promised Paul Yura & his crew that I’d try to get some even t-shirts if they “made the bad weather go away,” so I guess I need to keep that promise. J

I’m currently accepting “after action debriefing reports” from any hams who worked the event.  Please email those reports to me at tdc@sanantoniohams.org when you get the time.  There should be a volunteer party in a few months. If that happens, I’ll put the word out and collect your RSVP’s at that time.

Bryce and Ann Weathersby agreed amicably to “split up for the day”, and Bryce KE5KFD drove SAG #5 with his son, Jake, while Ann KE5TEZ and her daughter, Bryanne, worked Rest Stop #1 and then relocated over to Rest Stop #8 to help Dave Espinoza W5QS who was there from the start.

George Griesenbach W5GRG came over from Comfort, TX, and worked Rest Stop #2 for us. This is where the 50 split off from the 70/100 mile routes.

Lew Archer WV0YVY worked as Rest Stop #3 Ham up in Sattler, and then jumped in his car and followed the last of the 70 mile riders down the course as “temporary turtle” until they reached the next to the last rest stop (#7) on the 70 mile route.

Bart Pearl N5BLP did everything but demand I give him an assignment!  LOL He ended up as the Rest Stop #7 Ham, and entertained us with his Yaesu radio generating that WIRES ID CW all day long.   Rest Stop 7 saw everybody except the 15 or the 100 mile riders.

Ray Mueller AE5HN, who always seems to do things way above what the minimum requirement was, was over at Rest Stop #4, where the 70 & 100 split off at the south end of River Road.  Instead of sitting in the shade and just working the radio, he was standing (not sitting) on the side of the road, out in the sun with his hat on, verbally directing riders into the Rest Stop that was around the side of the River Road Ice House.

Jeremy Davenport KE5ELI used the event as an excuse to “get away” from his newborn baby, and worked Rest Stop #5 for the afternoon, after learning it was within a mile of his house.  Rest stop #5 was on the 100 mile route only.  I’m glad we were able to provide him with a feasible excuse to “take a break” for a few hours.

Lothar and Earlene Harris (K5LEH / K5DEH) volunteered to work Rest Stop #6 on the 100 mile route, even though Earlene had just recovered from some serious medical treatments and had broken a rib just days before the event.  Lothar sent me a photo of Earlene standing in the sun holding bicycles for the riders while they refilled their water bottles and grabbed a snack or two.

David Espinoza W5QS served double duty at Rest Stop #8, as the Rest Stop Ham and helping medical with his EMT training.  David is consistently the early bird ham at all of our events, first to arrive, and last to leave his position, ensuring that the last rider / runner has passed thru before he leaves.

Scott Reeve KT5SR came all the way from Houston to help out. He served as “Turtle” on the 100 mile route, and picked up signs along the way.  Despite not being familiar with the route, Scott drove the entire 100 mile route and ended up with his pickup truck bed full of TdC signage.  Amazingly enough, he was still smiling at the end of the day!

Curtis Rabenalt N5QPN was our SAFETY Officer out on the course. Unfortunately, due to some unknown mix-up, Curtis ended up without any marked patrol cars or uniformed officers to assist him with any hot-spots, such as where the 100 mile route crossed under IH-35 in New Braunfels, of when the report came in about the dogs chasing the riders on the eastern portion of the 100 mile route.  Curtis also assisted Susan Storrie who was the TdC Route Sign Chair in putting up signs on the day before the event.

Ruth Lewis KE5MHJ and Greg Lewis N5XO brought out their wonderful Hamster comm van, and proceeded to make the Sound System contractor very angry, even before they got the van set up.  Seems the contractor hadn’t been at any of the planning meetings or the walk-thru on the Thursday before the event, so he just set up his speakers all over the place and strung wires across the paved drive areas (about 8’ or less off the ground) without any reflectors, hanging signs or other safety measures.  So when Greg arrived before dark, driving that slightly taller than normal vehicle (think of a Red Cross ERV van or large Ambulance) and followed the cones into the overhang area so he could turnaround and park where the event committee had decided to put the communications van, he accidently ripped down the cables strung across in the dark.  Oops!  But all ended well, with the contractor taking down some of the speakers that were setup too near the communications area, and my turning down (way, way down, like “off”) the 2nd speaker that was still too close to our van.

Greg Lewis N5XO commented that he wasn’t much help with Net Control due to some hearing problems, so the primary Net Control operator was usually his wife, Ruth Lewis KE5MHJ, with relief provided by Jeff Schmidt N5MYW as needed.  With all the ambient noise inside, even with the doors shut, he had problems separating out the voices on the different radios. But he says his new hearing aids should arrive soon, so perhaps that won’t be as much of a problem in the future.  Having headsets available for use on the VHF/UHF radios inside the Hamster would help greatly as well.  Only the HF radios in the Hamster had readily available jacks for headsets. Ruth promised to get that fixed for next time.

Our Dynamic Duo from Austin, the Austin APRS Crew, Jeff Schmidt N5MNW and Paul Fenrich KA5FZU, arrived around 6:15am with their equipment, but decided to be “anti-social” and relocated down the sidewalk from the prime real estate I had staked out for them already.  Jeff said something about that loud music interfering with their ability to hear themselves think, much less operate on the radios.    We had extremely good APRS coverage on the course, and minimal need to reset the trackers in the SAG vans.  Being able to glance at the computer screen and see where the various units were located, was extremely helpful in getting the nearest van to a rider requesting pickup.  They also came down Friday afternoon, taking off work early to be here on time, and installed the trackers in each of the 6 SAG vans before the drivers departed with them.

It’s amazing how much “behind the scenes” work is needed for an event like these require.  Sort of like watching that duck out on the pond, moving so gracefully, but not seeing those feet paddling like crazy to keep up….

The topic of “Where are our SAG Vans?” was a bouncing ball for at least a week before the event.  First we were to pick them up over off IH-10 at the Colonnades Enterprise location near the National MS Office, then it was moved over to the 24 hour Enterprise Airport location on the south side of Loop 410 @ Airport Blvd.  Oops, then it was moved over the older Enterprise location on Hwy 281 & Jones-Maltsberger, behind the Embassy Suites.  After I visited there on Wednesday (May 8th) before the event to confirm everything was set up, I received a phone call early on Friday morning (May 10th) from the first location, saying they had our 6 vans ready for pickup. Oops!  I called Brady (branch mgr at the Hwy 281 location) to verify what was up.  Seems an intern (at Enterprise) hadn’t properly canceled the original reservation (at the higher price, and IH-10 location), nor a temporary reservation that somehow ended up made in my personal name.  So at one point, we had 18 vans ready to roll on Friday.  But Brady was able to get it all cleared up, and we just picked up the 6 vans on time at the Hwy 281 location.  The vans were all returned back before 8pm on Saturday, May 11th.

Our Fantastic SAG Team consisted of:

  1. Royce Taylor KA5OHJ driving SAG #1. Royce had the most prior experience as a SAG driver than any of the other SAG drivers, or even myself.
  2. Joe Bruno W5AUQ and his grandson (didn’t get his name) drove SAG #2.  Joe helped shuffle supplies from one rest stop to another, even when they changed their minds and wanted the supplies back at the original rest stop.
  3. Kevin Wilson KF5JJQ drove SAG #3 with his “googolly eyes” on the rear windows, and ended up as the turtle for the 50 mile route. Kevin also came out on for that Thursday night (May 8th) walk-thru planning meeting at the Retama to help us figure out the best place to situate communications, relatively near the medical, EMS ambulance, but away from the sound system (for all the good that did us on the morning of the event.)  You  will be seeing more of Kevin at future events, as he’s agreed to be my new sidekick and help with the planning of future events as well.  That help is well appreciated, and he showed good judgment when we needed to rearrange the TdC Staff’s ideas of where we ought to be hidden away on the day of the event.
  4. Jeffery Dillon and Mary Ann Horn N5MYN were in SAG #4, always in the right spot when I needed them to be there.
  5. Bryce Weathersby KE5KFD and his son, Jake, were in SAG #5 as previously mentioned. Bryce was always willing to go that extra mile when help was needed.
  6. Jim Haley K0GM and his wife, Georgia, were the SAG #6 driver team on the 50 mile route. They managed to find the only rider who was bleeding after he “took a tumble” when his father’s bicycle moved in front of him. Oops.  Jim brought them both back to the finish where the two EMT’s in the ambulance almost fought over the privilege of treating a patient.  The EMT’s were so bored all day, which is a good thing.

We had 23 Motorcycle Marshals, coordinated by Mike Perez W5ZAP.  They “earned their t-shirt” on this event, as they always do.  Without those extra eyes and ears (not counting the extra eyes on the back of SAG #3), we’d be hard pressed to be as efficient as we were.

UPDATE – 05/15/2013 – Here is an updated list of the Motorcycle Marshals who rode that day:

  1. Michael Perez W5ZAP
  2. Ray McLeaird N5RAM
  3. John Perry KE5PRE
  4. Claude Howard KD5YZX
  5. Daryl Mai W5MAI
  6. Shawn McAlpine KF5AVE
  7. Paul Guido N5IUT
  8. Bob Kelly KF5OSX
  9. Daniel Garcia
  10. Jean Williamson
  11. Russell Minor
  12. Jaime Panciera
  13. Manual Tarin
  14. Lance Tracy
  15. Paul Tarter KE5TDO
  16. Steve Evans KF5SCK
  17. Andre Ebaben
  18. Earl Gabbard
  19. John Guerra
  20. Carlos Ortiz
  21. Gary Bentson KF5JYH
  22. Jorge Patino KC5RY
  23. Jacque Robertson

I’ve already told the TDC staff, that next year, I want 10 SAG Vans to cover the route.  We had too many holes in our coverage areas, and the 15/30 mile routes were experiencing delays of 30-45 minutes, or more, before a rider was actually picked up by the Safelite Auto Glass SAG cars.  Our vans were spread way too thin on the multiple routes.

It wasn’t the number of riders vs. number of SAG vans, it was the mileage vs. the number of SAG vans that hurt us this year. There weren’t many short cuts to bounce from one route to the other, although we sure tried to do that.  I appreciated the patience of the SAG drivers when we changed plans in mid stream and redirected them to another part of the course to get a different rider.  I think our ridership levels were down, but the mileage per van was way up.

I want to thank my son, David Besing KD5MTJ, who covered a work assignment for me on Friday, so that I could run around picking up t-shirts from the ADA offices, picking up extra radios and supplies from my storage unit, buying 6 cases of bottled water for the SAG Vans, and get them all delivered to the Enterprise location.  Then he stayed with me the rest of the day, helping apply the vinyl numbers to each van and distribute the water and other signs, while the APRS crew installed the trackers.  Then he went with me to meet up with the Motorcycle Marshals who were having a pre-event dinner at Grady’s BBQ on San Pedro.  We showed them the large signs (thanks to Frank Kreusel at Art-Trig Corp in Leon Valley) and talked about the route, weather contingency plans, and distributed t-shirts to those present.

Speaking of T-Shirts…  If anyone didn’t get their event t-shirt, please contact me direct via email.  I’ve got extras, but only in the following sizes:

  • Large (Youth),
  • Large (Adult),
  • XL and
  • 2XL.
  • No 3XL shirt sizes are remaining. (I do have some 2011 3XL shirts from another ride, if you are interested.)

I’ve already given Mike Perez W5ZAP some of the extras for those Motorcycle Marshals who may not have received their shirt yet.  Perhaps I can meet up with anyone who still needs a shirt to give your shirt to you, or see you at an upcoming club meeting or event sometime soon.

I truly appreciate all of your help.  If I missed anyone above, I’m sorry. I tried to name names and recognize those who did extra work for me, but I’m still tired from the event and it’s taken me this long just to start playing catch up.  I did finally unload my own van on Sunday over at my storage unit, so that part got done.  My “Stop Diabetes” baseball cap and the “Communications” sign got left in the Hamster, so I guess I’ll need to keep my promise to attend at least part of the upcoming Unusual Suspects event on May 17-18th (see below for info).

Upcoming events…. While I’ve got your ear tuned to working events…

  • FYI – Hill Country REACT’s next meeting is on Wednesday, May 22nd, at 7pm, in Bulverde. See www.HillCountryREACT.org for location details. Visitors are always welcome, and new members are especially welcomed. Our group is almost 100% licensed hams, but we have a few XYL’s who haven’t gotten their ticket yet.  Feel free to attend.  We do meet at a Mexican Restaurant (Picadillo’s) but they aren’t open for serving during our meeting.
  • May17-18-19th – The Unusual Suspects Ham Club (un-Club) will be holding their annual pre-field day event that weekend on some ranch property out past Bandera, near Tarpley, Texas.  Setup on Friday, operate on Saturday, and shut down on Sunday.  This is a Camp-Out type event, so bring your tent, trailer or RV with you if you plan to be there the whole weekend.  Contact Greg Lewis to get the contact person’s name (Wesley). I can’t remember his contact info right the minute as I’m typing this.
  • May 26th – American Hero 25k Relay Run. This is a Sunday morning event, to be held over on the east side, near Houston & IH-10 at the Wheatley Sports Complex.  The route is 5k (out & back total) and they run it 5 times in relay. Not real exciting.  They start on the track inside the stadium, run out across the parking lot and over to the Salado Creek path in the greenbelt area.  I will be over there on this Thursday for their Walk-Around planning session, and will attempt to figure out what repeater works best. We might be able to run this simplex since the furthest distance is only  2.5k (about 1.5 miles) from the start.  I’m not sure if we can get our vehicles down near the end or middle of the route, but I’ll find out.  We might need to borrow the REACT Team’s golf cart and then drop off operators with their folding chairs at the various locations. We’ll also assign a shadow to ride / run / stick with the Race Director and with Medical.  We won’t need a huge amount of operators for this event, perhaps 8-10 max, but I’m also planning on having a “guest” from Germany show up to help us.  Felix Mann DL5JF is arriving in San Antonio on Saturday, May 25th.  I’ve invited him to participate in the American Hero 25k Relay Run the next day.  He said yes, so we’ll see how reality affects prior planning. Please let me know if you are interested in volunteering for this.

PS: All of the hams who work this event on the 26th, will be invited to attend a free dinner on the evening of August 5th at Spaghetti Warehouse downtown.  This will be an RSVP event, with RSVP’s thru myself.

  • On June 8th, same day as the Plano HamCom event, the Texas Water Safari will start their paddles at 8am in San Marcos and canoe down the river until they reach the Gulf Coast at Sea Drift, Texas.  260 miles of water and mosquitoes with around 150 canoe teams vying for prizes and titles.  The SARO Ham Club (Eric Olsen WA5ZJQ) is the point of contact, and I’ll be at the Staples Dam checkpoint (at approximately 13 miles) with Kevin Wilson. Other volunteers are welcomed to join us.  Staples Dam is NE of New Braunfels, SW of San Marcos, near Martindale.

Staples Dam will be open from 9am until around 4pm on that Saturday. Official cut-off time is 3pm.  We’ll be running voice on linked 2 meter and 440 repeaters, plus using Packet on a series of linked Digipeaters downstream.  There are many checkpoints as the route goes down stream, with longer and longer operation hours. Some spots near Victoria will be there 2-3 days (24/hrs a day) as the canoe teams get stretched out along the river.  The Hams from San Antonio usually work the checkpoints that are cleared by late Sunday, but are always welcomed to volunteer to go down stream and relieve some very tired hams at other checkpoints.

  • June 22-23 is Field Day Weekend!  Multiple Ham Clubs are doing their thing this weekend. I’ll post more info soon on http://SanAntonioHams.org/blog as I get the time.
  • July 4th Canyon Lake Parade – Hams are needed to coordinate the staging area for the 4th of July Parade up in Startzville (FM2673 on south side of Canyon Lake).  Hill Country REACT Team will be coordinating this event, and hams from other clubs are always welcomed. This is a fairly decent small town parade with lots of entries, not to be compared to the commercialized parades in San Antonio. These parades are still fun to do and to watch.   Contact Louis Upton K5STX or myself to volunteer.  This is an HT only event, as we’ll be mostly on foot during the staging, but wash your car, because we all get to jump in line at the end of the parade and wave at the spectators!  But the key thing is, we get to beat the traffic out of town before the sheriff lets the roads open back up!
  • July 28th is another Boerne Triathlon, the Small/Tiny Texan Triathlon. (See this link for details. http://www.brittonbikes.com/hcsa-events/small-texan-tri/small-tx-mainpage.htm)  This event uses the KARS repeaters and is mostly a mobile radio only type event, but some assignments will be close enough for HT use.  I need help with the Net Control station at the Boerne City Lake, and we put hams out on the bicycle and running portion of the route. Sorry, no ham equipped kayaks or floats.  We need a turtle vehicle (fuel is reimbursed) and perhaps a lead vehicle on the bicycle route, motorcycle marshals would be nice, rest stop hams, critical intersection hams, etc.  The event is sponsored by the Hill Country Sports Association and Britton Bikes.  Some assignments will last all day, others are early bird assignments (bicycle route), others are sleepy person assignments (sleep in & arrive late morning, then stay late for the run portion to complete.)
  • And to finish off the summer events, make your plans now to go up to Austin for the Austin Summerfest on the first weekend of August, the 2nd and 3rd (Friday / Saturday).

Please contact me directly at info@sanantoniohams.org  if you want to volunteer for any of these events, or just want more information about any of them.

Please forward any photos taken during the Tour de Cure event, if you have some. I’d appreciate it!

Thanks again for all the help!  I’ve received multiple compliments from riders and TdC committee members about the awesome job of communications and coordination that we did.

Lee Besing, N5NTG
Phone (210)771-7075 (cell) voice or text


Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.