MS LA Coastal Challenge – May 14-15
MARC assisted with this MS event for the 3rd time in recent years. Previously the event was based at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. For this event MARC provided 4 motorcycles and one SAG. In addition we recruited 4 hams from other organizations to provide radio operators in SAG vehicles provided by MS. We also were joined by 4 independent motorcycles who indicated they had supported this event in the past.
We coordinated with MS personnel and participated in a pre-event online meeting to work out who would be doing what. Along the way many ham radio organizations were contacted to recruit hams to assist with radio communications. Ultimately 2 operators joined MARC from the LAFD ACS organization and 2 who are members of the PAPA System.
Prior to the event Michael Rickey, AF6AB, got approval from the PAPA System to use several repeaters from that system. This would prove valuable because these repeaters are linked which would allow Net Control to only need access to one repeater, while operators on the course would use whichever repeater provided the best contact depending on their location on the course. Michael also got approval to isolate the selected repeaters from the rest of the PAPA system during the event. This setup proved very valuable in allowing good communications without outside traffic.
Mark Kanzler, KE6ZRP, and John Beckwith, N6JCB, pre-rode most of the 100 mile course for Day 1, and most of the 50 mile course from Day 2. With the assistance of Michael Rickey, they were able to identify which repeaters would provide the best coverage during the event. They identified 2 repeaters in particular that would provide coverage for most of the 2 days. They also identified a few areas where coverage would be weak or non-existent. They also observed to some degree cell coverage over the course areas.
MS advised MARC that there was another group of motorcycles that wanted to assist in the event and had done so in the past. These riders were not associated with any specific group – and did not have radios. (Though, it turned out one was a ham and had a radio on the day of the event – but is apparently not an active ham and did not use his radio during the event?)
On Saturday, May 14th, Mark, John, John Kristian, W6JMK (who came down from the Bay Area) and John Edwards, KC6ZOZ met at the start area in Santa Monica, near the airport. They were joined by the 2 ACS members who would be riding with the MS SAG vehicles. MS provided a total of 3 SAG vehicles. They were joined by the 4 additional motorcycles. Additionally, Scott Farthing, K6IXQ, joined the course at Rest Stop 1.
Net Control was manned by Michael and Jim Banks, KD6REA. They were setup in a tent at the start/finish area provided by MS and were assisted by two MS people assigned to Net Control. This was particularly valuable as it allowed the MS folks to handle the Cell Phone calls while Michael and Jim manned the radios. This provided excellent coordination between the various groups involved in supporting the event.
The 4 MARC motorcycles, one MS SAG and Scott proceeded on the 105 mile course that would leave Santa Monica, proceed on Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Canyon where they went up the canyon to Mulholland, over to the Agoura area, then back over Kanan Road to PCH. From there to Ventura, ultimately ending at the finish line at San Buenaventura Beach. The other non-ham motorcycles and the other 2 SAG’s followed the 62 mile course which stayed on PCH from Santa Monica to the finish line. Additionally, there was a 30 mile course run entirely in the Ventura area and was supported only by MS vehicles.
On Sunday the MARC motorcycles, MARC SAG (Scott), three of the additional motorcycles and 1 MS SAG followed the 50 mile course – west to Rincon Point, up Highway 150 to Ojai then back down to the finish line at the Beach. Again, there was a 30 mile course that was not supported by MARC. This course also went to Rincon Point but then just retraced that route back to the finish line.
As indicated, there were a few areas that had poor repeater coverage, but overall comms held up well throughout the two days. Several bicycles were assisted, and a few were SAG’d to the next rest stop or the finish line. There was a total of about 450 bicycles on this event. While no count was taken it appeared about 200 were on the 62 mile course and about 30 on the 105 mile course on Day 1. Likewise about 30 participated in the 50 mile course on Day 2.
One of the challenges, particularly on Day 2, was significant use of bike trails. On Day 1, shortly after leaving the start in Santa Monica, the bicycles entered the bike path on the Santa Monica beach and continued that all the way to Temescal canyon. They were picked up there by the motors and SAG’s. On Day 2, the bicycles were on and off the bike path to Rincon Point to Rest Stop 1. Then, the riders on the 50 mile were on and off the bike trails in Ojai while approaching and departing Rest Stop 3. Ultimately they were on the bike trail all the way down to Ventura – which pretty much eliminated any support from Motors or SAG’s.
Overall – all seemed to go well and initial comments by the MS personnel indicated they were happy to have MARC participation – and would look forward to using MARC again in the future LA events. Next up is the Bike MS: Bay to Bay – October 15 & 16, 2022.
John Beckwith, N6JCB