Singleton Rotary Club Charity Bike Ride 2019

The second event for the Singleton Team for September 2019 is Singleton Rotary Club’s Charity Bike Ride which is held in the Lake St Clair area. The event which partners with Singleton Council and Soft Cogs cycling group gives riders the choice of three routes: 16km, 48km and 75km. It doesn’t matter which route they chose, there were hills in all of them. On the day, 172 participants were up for the challenge. Rotary members put on the barbeque as well as staffing various points as marshals and the Mt Olive Hall as the half way stop.

Like all of our events, it begins with the preparation. John King had the Central Coast trailer sorted and fitted radios to two St John Ambulance vehicles the day before. This saves work on the day which was great because I was still running around like a mad thing. John took the trailer and other related items out to the Mt Olive Hall, I took 62 with the gazebo, a couple of chairs and our radio setup for use at the Lake St Clair Recreation area by Janice Lawrence. Our other members were Dylan Longworth who staffed a point on the road and new member Martin Gray who assisted John at “Ride Control” – the Central Coast trailer. Unusually, Ride Control is located at the half way rest stop – not the Start/Finish point since this is where the route manager is also located due to availability of mobile phone coverage.

The radio setup at Lake St Clair this year was a modification to that of last year in that we used a self contained arrangement of Tait 2020 Series II radios – VHF-Midband and UHF configured as a cross band unit as opposed to Tait TM8250 radios used last year. The cross band guarantees coverage across the lake to the high point on the climb which is somewhat under a ledge with respect to the repeater site. With the A2000-UIS boards fitted to the T2020 Series II’s, pressing the PTT on either radio microphone causes both to go into transmit whereas with the TM8250, only that radio goes into transmit. The nicety is that when Janice is talking on the radio, I also get to hear what she is saying on the cross banded radio. The VHF radio was set to Ch77 and for this event, usually dust off an Icom IC-F30G portable. Despite this handheld being fitted with the standard midband “rubber attenuator”, the signal into the cross band was loud and clear.

There were three Rotary sweep vehicles fitted with UHF radios. We have seen it before, commercial radios do not operate successfully from cigarette lighter sockets not designed to be “power sockets”. Luckily, we had Plan B which were Kenwood TK3170 portables fitted with SMA-BNC adapters, magnetic base and 4.5dBi antennas. Rotary Club officials, St John Ambulance and ourselves all made use of our local UHF82 repeater in standard Big Ride fashion. Our VHF Midband CH75 was a back channel.

Our setup at Lake St Clair – 3m square gazebo, 300W solar panel also used with our repeater trailer, green tarp to keep the sun and heat out (taken out of 62) and our mast with Tee bar.

St John Ambulance had one minor to attend to at the Start/Finish for the day. Other than that, the sun was shining and we all had a great day. Perfect for riding given the time of year, maybe a tad warm, but no wind.

On VHF Midband, we are using our standard groundplane using Mobile One dipole base and lead kit and RFI SW1 stainless steel whips. On UHF, we are using a Mobile One 4.5dBi collinear.

Janice Lawrence at Lake St Clair with Tait T2020 Series II cross band repeater.

The 75km riders are about to get a start.

This is the highest point along the route which overlooks Lake St Clair. The rock behind Cairns 62 is marked with paint “Phone”, the only point out here where mobile phone reception is available.

A view across the lake towards the recreation area where the start/finish point is located. The signal path for the VHF Midband handheld is around 3 km or so.

The road either side of this high point is steep enough to allow the riders to gain a fair bit of speed. If there is going to be a spill, this is a good location for it. Luckily, no spills though a number of riders were reporting cramps on the return run.