Amateur radio volunteers participate in a major cycling event in the United States


On September 11, some 115 volunteer radio amateurs from five states provided communications assistance to LoToJa, the longest USA Cycling (USAC)-sanctioned one-day cycling event in the country and now in its 39th year. Beginning in Logan, Utah, the 203-mile course ends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, taking riders through northeast Utah, southeast Idaho and western Wyoming in the process. The race attracts thousands of applicants and over 2,000 are selected to compete. Some 1,700 competed this year. The event generates more than $2 million annually for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Hams participate in several clubs in Utah, including the Goldman Spike Amateur Radio Club (GSARC), Ogden Amateur Radio Club (OARC), and Utah Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC). The race deploys four command centers and multiple repeaters.

Prior to the event, Race Director Brent Chambers Recount the Cache Valley Daily that “this year’s race will have 600 volunteers on the course, including 150 amateur radio operators [and helpers] of the Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club. They provide uninterrupted communication throughout LoToJa’s mountainous and remote terrain.

We take two portable repeaters to the top of the mountains and we deploy several APRS [Automatic Packet Reporting System] digipeaters,” explained Kevin Reeve, N7RXE, who is the coordinator of amateur radio operators and communication systems for LoToJa. “All ham vehicles run APRS, and we have APRS and a radio operator with the race director and race official. Our goal is to help cyclists, their support teams and their families have a safe and enjoyable event.

Ted McArthur, AC7II, leads the communications infrastructure team for LoToJa Hams. A total of nine repeaters and several simplex frequencies are used throughout the event, with APRS playing an important role.

“With [an increase in] the number of moving vehicles needed to respond to an increasing event, network control stations were spending a lot of radio time requesting position reports,” McArthur said. “We needed the airtime for real traffic, like bike help, emergencies, and other critical traffic.”

“LoToJa is a great event for amateur radio operators to participate in,” said Tyler Griffiths, N7UWX. “It’s ARES [Amateur Radio Emergency Service] a radio operator’s dream event. We know where it starts, we know where it ends, but everything in between is different from year to year.

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