NSRC Serves the Evanston Century

NSRC Face Off with Mexico

Over the weekend of September 12, many of your fellow club members spent a fine day in the outdoor air helping 2200 avid bicyclists challenge themselves for the annual Evanston Century.  It was another amazing event…bikers assembled at 5:30 a.m. to begin their 100 mile loop journey.    Meanwhile, Craig Dieckman, KC9HWK, Mark Klocksin, WA9IVH, and I were feverously trying to complete our little temporary HQ, built into the entrance way at Evanston High School.  I could tell from the moment that we started that it was going to be a bad spot…the hallway echoed like crazy, especially when people came by just to say hello and chat. It was too late to make changes, the event started.  We had made a commitment.  There was the usual scramble for SAG parts…APRS units, bike pumps, spare tubes, first aid kits, flags for the car, signs…but almost all of the ham SAGs (Support and Gear for those in the know), got out the door before the traffic became insane at the north end of the school. Well, by the time I got out, around 7 a.m., I was completely trapped by vehicles and bikers.

I knew my day as SAG was going to be different when we were asked right off to head up towards Great Lakes and sweep the route…in this case sweeping meant just that.  We walked about a ½ mile route sweeping glass out of the way from the route!  It was very therapeutic!  We finally got onto to our route…we had two to patrol this year and so we headed off to 62 mile loop to see Jordan Kaplan, W9QKE.  I must say, as a class of bikers goes, the trail along this route is very nice, made more interesting by the high density of attractive female riders. Unfortunately, none of them needed any assistance from us.  So we stopped at Viking to see Jordan Kaplan, W9QKE, and check out his set up and then head over to see George Slominski, W9AUM, at Sunset Woods and then up to Bowen to see Dave Hartnett, K9DRH.  Judging from the radio traffic, many of the other SAG folks were working pretty hard…it was almost noon and we hadn’t helped a single biker yet! 

We started to head back down from Bowen to Sunset, our assigned SAG route 6.  It was fun seeing all of the bikers in their multi-colored shirts, many of whom waved thanking us for our support.  My car had two SAG flags and several banners on the windows, so they knew that that we were there for them.  In fact, my Bike Club partner, Jim Egan, said that many people push themselves on these rides just because they know that there are SAG cars on the route!  That made me feel pretty good.

We started to approach Washington St. in Waukegan and I opened the windows to let in some fresh air, when I hear the distinct sounds of salsa music. Then I noticed a very large assembling crowd.  As we approached the intersection, it became very obvious – this was a parade…and our bikers were heading right for it!  I called net control and then drove across the intersection before the parade started.  So we were on the south side…and the bikers were on the other side of the intersection.  Many stopped to watch the parade.  I drove up right up to one of the officers who had stopped northbound traffic…and now I realize I had to be quite a sight! (and probably not a wise move!)  My car looked like many of the other cars from that part of town…festooned with flags and banners.  I think he thought I was part of the parade!  When we explained the collision that was about to occur…we mapped out a quick plan…well it wasn’t much of a plan. He called his dispatch and I called ours.   Basically, they positioned someone north to divert bikers…and we headed south to see where they would be coming out…it was like watching a giant garden hose…you know eventually water will be coming out. Well soon enough, huge throngs of bikers had busted loose and were rapidly approaching us…great! However, we didn’t have a good plan for them except to wave!  By the time the next group came by, we had quickly assessed a short cut back to the trail and split up.  I took one end and Jim took another.  Eventually, we got a little support from Neil DeSimone…and we could make the detour more complete.  In time, George Greene, NE9ET, showed up with his SAG car and they had mapped the detour with paint…and our job was done!  This all happened very quickly.  Meanwhile the end of the parade had passed by our cross street and they re-opened the original route.   It was crazy, I have to admit.   By the time we got all of the various plans in order to re-route, the police had handled it for us.  It added a very insane bit of anxiety to an otherwise pleasant day.  I had to leave the event before the final biker got home, but from what I have heard and saw, this was one of the best Evanston Century events in years. 

I want to thank all of the hams who came out to help…SAG cars, George Greene, NE9ET, (who had to shift from a base station to SAG…thanks George), Warren Pugh, KC9IL, Steve Little, KC9MWW, Lee Kaufman, KG4BYG, Randy Brothers, K9OR, Al Hovey, KC9EAA, (who had to stand in for the irreplaceable Kate Saccany, KC9IQF), and Ed Burckart, N9VTU.  Our base stations hams were Jesse Mix, KC9ARE, Dave Hewitt, N3BXY, Don Whiteman, KK9H, (he holds down the northern most part of the route), Jordan Kaplan, W9QKE, Dave Hartnett, K9DRH,  and George Slominski, W9AUM.  Net Control Ops were Craig Dieckman, KC9HWK, Mark Klocksin, WA9IVH, (How can you watch football and be net control?), Scott Irwin, W9UFO, and Charles Bartling, W4TVW. 

It was a terrific event.  We continue to learn new things every year about how we can better use ham radio to serve the community.

Rob, K9RST