Members of the Winona (MN) Amateur Radio Club (WARC) provided communication support in mid-September for 300 riders taking part in the “Ride The Ridges” bicycle tour. WARC said the region’s scenic hills and deep valleys present a communication challenge. Members patrolled four routes — ranging from 23 to 105 miles — as well as seven rest stops, working voice communication via a UHF repeater near Winona and the Riverland Amateur Radio Club VHF repeater 30 miles away in Wisconsin.
APRS was used to track SAG and sweep vehicles and also offered messaging capability. As a public awareness effort, a large-screen display at the ride’s start and end showed friends and family the progress of riders.
With cell coverage impaired by the terrain, the club installed two temporary digipeaters to assure constant contact with the APRS units. “We can bring technology to these events that the sponsoring organizations don’t have other access to,” said Dan Goltz, WK0W, of WARC.
“We are there to enhance the event, and to provide a service, not for our benefit but for theirs.” Fifteen club members volunteered for the September 15 event. Ride the Ridges is a project of the Winona Rotary Club.