Loop Charity Cycle Challenge 2019

Formerly “Loop the Lake” Bike Ride, this event no longer goes around Lake Macquarie south of Newcastle – rather down the eastern side to Doyalson and returns. The event is run by the Rotary Club of Warners Bay with support from other nearby Rotary clubs. Proceeds from the event support the Cancer Council of NSW – Hunter, Camp Quality – Hunter, John Hunter Children’s Hospital and Rotary Children’s and Health charities.

This year, John King was our Team leader for this event and thanks go to John for organising our participation. This year, the event ran on Sunday 10 March 2019.

As usual, preparation begins a few days before getting out the proposed UHF repeater for the event and giving it a test run. For this one, we are using a pair of Tait TM8110’s through a RF-Industries TX-RX Systems “Vari-Notch” diplexer and a collinear antenna fed by a bit of RG-8 grade Belden 9913 coaxial cable.

On the very late afternoon – actually, make that very early evening the day before, time to load everything into the vehicle including all welfare supplies for the trip to the nominated repeater site. We nominate Heaton Lookout for this one because it has a very good view over the Lake Macquarie area. We are jumping a few logistic hurdles at the moment, so we chose to take a trailer from Singleton instead of Newcastle for this event. The trailer gets picked up and it is then time to make a bee line for Cessnock. It is now 2130 hours. From Cessnock, after stopping for a meat pie and a bottle of Powerade, it is on to Kitchener then finally Sandy Creek Road then Heaton Road.

It has been a couple of years or so since I have been up to Heaton Lookout this way. I see the road condition has not improved. It is a lane and a half unsealed state forest road with numerous holes nearly big enough and deep enough to swallow a trailer. There is one school of thought in relation to this – by leaving it like this, drivers will need to travel quite slowly and this itself should mean avoiding a road accident in a less than ideal location – in theory.

Arrival at the lookout was at 2300 Hours. Again, in years gone by I would be the only one up there at this time of night. This year at least, there were three others up there. It becomes a challenge and the executive decision then has to be made: Setup the mast and antenna there and then or get up at 0530 and do it then. Which disturbs the neighbours the least? I chose the latter and hoped for the best.

On the day, there were nine of us from CREST-NSW who came to assist with members coming from Maitland, Newcastle, Prospect, Singleton and Sydney. We were up and running for the first participant leaving the start/finish at Speers Point Park at 0700 with the last in at around 1300 or so. This event also requires us to temporarily plumb a few mobile radios into floating marshal vehicles and the sweep bus.

By the time the repeater is packed up, the return trip made to Singleton, vehicle washed, fuelled, unpacked and garaged – it is now 1930 Hours. A big day.

Our setup at Heaton Lookout. In the background, just to the left of the trailer is Eraring Power Station near Dora Creek.