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Old 02-01-11, 01:05 PM   #1
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Organizing a road race- communications

Hello! I am helping organize a collegiate bike race this season. I could use some advice from experienced organizers on a few topics, but the one that I am most unsure about is radio communication between the organizers/marshalls/cops.

Is it standard to rent long-range radios for everyone, or would you suggest using cellphones? Or any other option I haven't thought of? The course is a 9 mile loop, so the farthest that any marshall with be from another marshall is 3 miles, over rolling terrain (no huge hills/mountains, but lots of trees).
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Old 02-01-11, 01:11 PM   #2
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I'm tempted to be a smart ass and say "semaphores" but will just say most everyone has a cell phone these days... And you'll want race officials in vehicles to keep an eye on things anyway. 3 vehicles per race would be sweet (one for the break-away, if there is one, one for the main peloton / chase group, and one wheel truck), but 2 could work too.
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Old 02-01-11, 01:18 PM   #3
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One time we used 2-way radios, another time we used push to talk cell phones that a local wireless store gave us to use, the push to talk did not work so well.

Basically the lead car passenger would radio his location on the course to let the marshals on the upcoming section know they were coming and to hold traffic. If you can get police involved, it makes for dealing with cars a little easier, if you can have a cop car drive ahead of the lead official car it makes drivers a little more apt to pull over and get out of the way, but police cost money.

It's extremely important that you brief the marshals on how to handle irate drivers, we would hand out a flyer for the marshals to read with instructions on what to say, our race was in a pretty well traveled area and some drivers got pretty pissed about having to wait a few minutes, but you have to have those marshals be wiling to do almost anything necessary to keep the cars from pulling out when the race is coming or it could get real ugly with a car coming on to the course.

Our race only lasted 2 years cause the local a-hole residents caused such a stink about being delayed in getting to the mall, mcdonalds or wherever else they were going that the township would not allow us to hold the race anymore. That's why in my area there are way more crits then RR's, it's much easier to hold a corporate park crit then to put on a decent road race.

Good luck with the race.
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Old 02-01-11, 02:14 PM   #4
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I did a low-key race last year that was "for the benefit of" a volunteer fire dept in a very small town. The race had a built-in HQ (VFD building) and free "official vehicles" - a fire truck with lights going. The course was very rural highways, we only went briefly thru one small town.

Something to consider.
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Old 02-01-11, 03:35 PM   #5
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best bet, legally would be MURS radios. these are VHF radios operating at... 2 watts

At green mtn stage race they rented a business band for the day, along with radios.

MURS doesn't require a license and should go furhter at 2 watts than GMRS (uhf) at 5 watts. I bet that they will go... 3-5 miles... as best.

if you got a bunch of magnet mount antenna with cigarette lighter plugs for the vehicles, you could maybe go 5-10 miles.

the great thing about them is you need no license and you will not find annoying children on these frequencies.

expensive radios... not cheap to get going.

Last edited by pjcampbell; 02-01-11 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 02-01-11, 09:01 PM   #6
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Is there an amateur radio (ham radio) club in your area? has a list of many. Ham groups will often provide communications support to events (several local century rides and marathons use them) as a public service and practice for emergency communications (one of the reasons we get free use of valuable RF spectrum). I can think of several things a group could do, but it really depends on your specific needs and if you are OK with radio operators shadowing the officials or if the official have to have their own communications. In addition to voice comms, GPS-enabled trackers could give you real time location of the lead and sweep escort vehicles, displayed on a computer.

Sticking with commercial radios, maybe a local business can loan you GMRS or MURS radios in return for mention as an event sponsor? Use cell phones as backups. FMRS and CB are close to useless IMHO (range, interference).
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