Ham Radio on GOBA


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GOBA is the largest bicycle ride in the world with emergency, health, and welfare communications provided exclusively by amateur radio. It's also the largest emergency preparedness event for Ohio amateur radio operators - each day we assist with the evacuation of 3000 people -- nearly all of them on bikes. 

GOBAhams club call - KG8OBA - listen for this call as net control stations may identify by this or perhaps a local club call.

Hams on GOBA

Net Control Stations -- Amateur Radio operators from GOBA's host counties in charge of the directed radio net to coordinate emergency, health, and welfare radio traffic for GOBA's 3000 bicyclists.  The NCS will usually identify as "Net Control" or "Net" in addition to the operator call sign.  On a given day, there may be two or more NCS stations.

Amateur Operators in Ambulances -- An FCC licensed Amateur Radio operator rides along with ambulances and EMT crews provided by GOBA and American Medical Response to respond to reports of injured or sick bicyclists.  Operators in ambulances will identify using the tactical call signs of "Med 1", Med 2", and "Med 3" in addition to the operator's call sign.

Julie Van Winkle, KC8LOX -- GOBA Tour Director -- She's the boss. She monitors the net during the ride each day, but also has other responsibilities.  Questions or problems should be referred to the responsible coordinator.  If the problem needs her involvement, the coordinator will know how to contact her.

Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ - GOBA Communications Director --  Jeff is responsible for planning communications on GOBA. During GOBA he will be operating vehicle mobile. He will serve as the GOBA "trail boss" and coordinate things on the tour when Julie may be unavailable .  He will be work with the ambulance supervisor in making decisions about the placement of ambulances along the route and for coordinating any emergency or other health and welfare services needed along the route. Jeff is also a state-certified paramedic and is the District 8 Emergency Coordinator (DEC) for the Ohio Section of the ARRL.

Jim Hedrick, AB8PV- Assistant Communications Director --  Jim worked squad communication for three days on GOBA 15 and returned for the entire week every year since then. Jim serves as communications back-up to Jeff.Jim has left squad communications to assist wife Cheryl with Car Camper check-ins and serves as one of our main camp radio ops. He is the former Technology Coordinator and now Transportation Supervisor for the Brunswick City Schools.

Jan Slattery, KD8PUJ- GOBA Communications Staff --  Jan is a retired third grade teacher who started working with GOBA in 2010 as Car Camper Assistant. She has been a squad ham for several years and now rides with the Communications Director (husband Jeff) as communications logger and navigator.

Elliott_HedrickElliott Hedrick, KD8UKF- GOBA Communications Staff --  Elliott is the son of staff members Jim and Cheryl Hedrick. Elliott joined as a squad ham and will ride on Med 1 this year.

Chris_HartChris Hart, KC8UFV- GOBA Communications Staff --  Chris is from the Toledo area and is joining GOBA as a squad ham on Med 2 for the first time in 2014. He has worked several similar public service events in the Toledo area. Welcome, Chris.

George_ShoemakerGeorge Shoemaker, KC8BVC- GOBA SAG Coordinator --  After serving as a SAG for several years on GOBA, George took over as SAG Coordinator in 2013 from Larry Hoverman, KC8HOP. George will be directing SAGS where needed and assist with the daily tail light sweep of the last riders.

Ginnie Schaffer, KB8YCI- Safety Cycle/Lunch Stop Contact--  Ginnie provides the Safety Cycle program required of all riders before the tour. During the tour, she is the staff contact at the daily lunch stops. Look for her during lunch if you have a question or need to contact another staff member via ham radio.

Larry Hoverman, KC8HOP GOBA Communications Staff and former GOBA Sag Vehicle Coordinator -- After many years serving as our SAG Vehicle Coordinator, Larry has passed those reins to George Shoemaker, but is not yet done working on GOBA. Larry continues by serving as the ham operator working with our Med 3 EMS Coordinator J. Michael Powers.

Jeff Ferriell, K8ZDA- GOBA Communications Director Emeritus--  Jeff was GOBA Communications Director prior to N8SUZ. He fills in as needed for squad and campsite communications as well as operating bike mobile.

Mary Plumley, KD8ANN- GOBA Administrative Assistant--  We are glad to have Mary as a new GOBA ham. She is Julie's right-hand person (Administrative Assistant) and will be an important link with the registration/information booth area on GOBA.

Frank Saffran, WB8PHH- GOBA SAG/Early Morning Route Sweep --  Frank is on the road,usually by 6:00 AM to run the route and make any final sweep of stones and other debris that may pose a hazard to our riders. He also looks for any route indicators that need reinforcement or additional signage at dangerous intersections or easy to miss turns. He provides some limited SAG service. If he looks a little tired at the end of the day, it is because he has been out there before everyone else.

Jane_KD8RYWJane Nickerson, KD8RYW, Hospital SAG for GOBA and newly licensed ham.  Jane is from the Xenia area and has worked with our Information Tent for several years. Jane's husband Steve is our Camp Director.

Rachel_ConcitisRachel Concitis, KD8LOK- Medical RV Coordinator/GOBA Communications Staff --  Rachel (Renkes) Concitis was raised doing GOBA with her family involved in several staff positions. Rachel became our Medical RV Coordinator and decided to get her ham radio license. She helps with campground communication and often takes a turn at squad communication during our layover days.

Sag Vehicle Drivers - Sag vehicle drivers transport bicyclists who are too tired to continue or who have been directed by GOBA medical personnel to sag into camp.  Most sag vehicle drivers are amateur radio operators.   Those who are not may approach other hams with traffic for Larry Hoverman, KC8HOP, the Sag Coordinator.  These may also have a scanner to monitor the net for instructions regarding riders needing sag service.

Bicycle Mobile HamsThere will be 10-20 bicycle mobile amateur radio operators participating on GOBA.  Most of the time all they will have is an ht with a rubber duck.  Some will have a 1/2 wave antenna attached somehow to their bikes.  Be sure to listen for bike mobile hams who may be unable to make the repeater to report a medical or other emergency -- in this circumstance they will be transmitting on the repeater output and asking other hams to relay their traffic to net control.

Town Coordinators.  Each of GOBA's host towns has designated a "Town Coordinator" responsible for handling any major problems in the host town.


Amateur Radio Operations on GOBA (Also see the Procedures Page )

GOBA operates a controlled emergency, health, and welfare net each day while bicyclists are on the road.  Volunteer amateur radio operators work in ambulances, in sag vehicles, at designated locations along the route, and on bicycles.  In addition, most members of the permanent GOBA staff are licensed amateur radio operators.

Operating procedures are determined by the net control operator, who is in charge of the directed net each day.   Stations with traffic should identify their station, ask for "net control" and relay their traffic to the net control operator when acknowledged. 

We use tactical call signs for net control and for our squads.  When clearing a tactical call station don't forget to also clear with your legal FCC call sign as well as required by FCC rules.  Also remember that under FCC rules there is to be no profanity or transmission of music over the air. If you have a radio on in your vehicle, make sure you turn the volume down before transmitting.

Medical Emergencies - While we hope not to have any medical emergencies during GOBA, the things that happen during a week in any small town of 3000 tend to happen on GOBA as much as anywhere else.  The most common medical situations we encounter are sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sore knees.  These, of course, can be prevented.  When bicyclists fall, they tend to suffer from skin abrasion (road rash), broken collarbones, and dislocated shoulders.   More serious and even life threatening injuries are, of course, possible.

A GOBA amateur radio volunteer who sees or hears word of a medical emergency situation should contact net control immediately.   Calling net control with the word "MEDICAL" is usually sufficient to get the attention of both the net control station and to alert other stations to hold any non-priority traffic until our medical emergency personnel can provide an appropriate response.  More information about how to handle a medical emergency is available on the Medical Emergency Page.

Bikes Needing Repair - Hams stationed along the route are sometimes approached to radio for assistance from one of the bicycle repair crews who work on the GOBA route each day.  Most of the time it does no good to call net control about a needed repair.  With the exception of Jay Bookwalter, KC8GNL, from Best Bicycles in Mansfield, the bike repair trucks do not have communications.  However, they do patrol the route, looking for broken down riders.  The most common problem is a flat tire.  GOBA bicyclists are encouraged to learn how to fix their own flats, and to carry the equipment they need to perform this repair with them at all times.  The best solution for a flat tire is to seek the assistance of another GOBA bicyclist with the necessary materials and know-how.  GOBA bicyclists are usually willing to help other riders with this task.   Riders who insist on waiting for a repair truck are likely to have to wait for quite a while -- the repair vehicles usually get bogged down at the food stops, where they are mobbed by people seeking help with minor adjustments.

Tired riders or those with irreparable mechanical problems - GOBA provides sag service to bicyclists who have become too tired to continue, or who are too ill or injured to ride, but not in need of medical transport.  GOBA also provides rides to riders whose bicycles cannot be repaired on the road by one of the repair vehicles (this is quite rare, usually involving a broken frame or unavailable part).  To assist a rider who seems to need to be sagged into town, contact net control.  Many sag vehicle drivers are amateur radio operators. Sag vehicles patrol the route and respond to calls on the net for sag assistance.  Requests for sag service should be coordinated through the sag coordinator, Larry Hoverman, KC8HOP  More information about GOBA's sag service is available on the GOBA Sag Page.

Rider density reports - GOBA Officials responsible for the deployment of emergency, repair, and sag services on GOBA are likely to ask net control to obtain a rider density report from amateur radio operators who are either bicycle mobile or who are stationed along the route.   The best way to provide a rider density report is to advise net control of the number of riders passing a particular point each minute, or if rider density is light, each 5 minutes or 10 minutes. 

Dangerous road conditions or other problems along the route  - Amateur radio operators working on GOBA are likely to observe a variety of potentially dangerous conditions on the route including gravel at the bottom of a hill,  thunderstorms and tornados (yes, we've had them), reckless bicyclists, vicious dogs, and vicious automobile drivers.  These and other conditions should be reported to net control who will relay the information to the appropriate GOBA official to respond, if possible, to the situation.  

 

Original content by Jeff Ferriell, K8ZDA.
Revised by Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ.