The Race Committee started monthly meetings in October for the May race.
The week before the event was concerning. On Tuesday, May 10th, Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant was attacked and killed by a brown bear sow on JBER, just West of the Muni landfill. The attack occurred within two miles of the bicycle portion of the Gold Nugget Triathlon.
Lots of people in a race doesn’t necessarily mean that a trail is safe. In June of 2017, a black bear fatally mauled an Anchorage 16-year-old who was was participating in the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb at Bird Ridge, which was being run for the 29th year straight. Everyone thought that it would be the safest day of the year to run the ridge, due to all the traffic and noise.
Everyone associated with the race was concerned about the safety of the runners, including the military. The last text message I got was at 11:08 PM, the night before the race, confirming where we would have safety people patrolling the race course on bikes. People would be showing up at Bartlett High School before 6:30 AM.
I was at my far corner of the Bartlett parking lot around 7 AM. It was just above freezing when I left my house. As I was getting set up, I saw the smiling faces of Eric Cannon KL4VA and Elizabeth Bluemink KL4TU.
During the planning for the triathlon, one of our hams said: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had some e-bikes to run safety on the run course?”. We all agreed that it would be wonderful to have e-bikes. The Trek Bicycle Store of Anchorage is one of the sponsors of the Gold Nugget Triathlon. Bill Fleming is the owner of the Trek Bicycle Store, and was on the race committee.
So at the next race committee meeting, I asked Bill Fleming if we could borrow a couple of e-bikes to run safety for the run course. He smiled and said that we could use a couple of e-bikes that he had in his rental fleet at Trek Bike Rentals Anchorage. The tricky part was the logistics of getting the bikes to the triathlon. The rental kiosk was opening for the season about an hour after we wanted the bikes. They charged and delivered the e-bikes to Bartlett for us. We returned them the next day.
Eric and Elizabeth picked up the e-bikes and headed out.
I was Net Control for the morning. I had my mobile two meter Kenwood which is normally at my desk, wired up to a car battery sized 12 volt battery and a mag mount antenna on the top of my car. The race committee had business handhelds supplied by Arcticom. I had on of those. I also had an HT set up for simplex to the announcer liason.
I had heard that the fun part of being Net Control was when the announcers on the PA system, the repeater, and the Arcticom radio all go off at once, and you can’t decipher anything. Oh, add in a cell phone too.
I had to announce that I had to answer a call of nature, and stretch my legs to the whole net. Hey everyone, get your stopwatches out. I gotta go pee!
I was about 400 feet from the Volunteer Tent and the exit arch of the first transition area. In the first four hours I made it out there twice. Team One provides medics for the Gold Nugget Triathlon and the Runfest in August. One of the medics, who is also a ham, was at Westchester Lagoon last year. On my second break, I was talking to the medic and the Arcticom radio went off. “Can someone find the medic somewhere in the Bartlett infield. We think we have a dislocated shoulder in the pool.” The medic heard it, and was jogging to the pool with his bag of stuff before I could answer the radio. Proud of our response time on that one!
It’s one thing to look at 1,220 racers registered, but it’s another thing to see 1,100 bicycles in the corral.
It would get quiet for a while, and then I would hear “Net Control” come over one of the three radios. “Hey, that’s me”. I wonder which radio it was.
I found out that you can use the belt clip on an HT to clip your radio to the sun visor on the passenger side of the car. I also found out that if you have a Signal Stick antenna. You can see it coming can’t you? If you have a Signal Stick antenna and slam the door closed because the PA system is too loud, nothing bad happens.
Since there was so much concern about bears and moose, I started asking our safety people on the run course if they had seen any large animals. Part of our job is to be the eyes of the Race Committee out on the course.
They were glad to hear that everything was running smoothly and we had not seen any large animals on the course.
The racers dropped off their bikes at the T2 transition area. As the race went on, FedEx shuttled the bikes and gear bags from T2 back to Bartlett. It warmed up to the point where I was wearing a t-shirt and a high viz mesh vest.
There was a minor hiccup with a bike rider approaching the T2 transition area. We got a second hand report that a bike had thrown a chain, and the rider was unable to pedal the bike. We figured out later that the bike was close enough to push to T2. At that point, they were now a runner and it wasn’t necessary to immediately fix the bike. A little bit of searching for a racer who had already moved on.
Craig Bledsoe KL7H took over as Net Control for the afternoon. I was reminded about how good tactical call signs are. Craig called in on the net as he was driving in. He used his call sign, just like you normally do, but my brain wasn’t calibrated to handle call signs out of the ether like that. I was confused for a bit until I figured out that it was Craig calling.
As the afternoon progressed, the clouds rolled in, and the bicycles rolled out (no riding in the corral).
At the end of the day, TJ Sheffield – KL7TS loaded up the bicycles.
On the drive out from T2, TJ used his truck to shield a non race biker on Arctic Valley Road from this black bear.
Our Anchorage Amateur Radio Club volunteers did great. We had some minor problems which were quickly solved. I know that I handed off an Arcticom radio without checking that it was on the proper channel.
On behalf of the Gold Nugget Triathlon 2022 Race Committee, a big thank you to all the volunteers. I know we were safe, I hope you had fun!
73 – Walter Yankauskas – KL7WY
Subject: GNT 2022 ebike summary
by Eric Canon KL4VA
Trek had two fully charged Townie bikes at Bartlett that we picked up around 7:15 am. The bikes were comfy beach cruiser style, 7 speed bikes with a grip shift on the right handle bar, adjustable seat. I couldn’t find a label on the battery to indicate voltage or Ah. The bikes had sturdy bike racks to hold the battery (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter metal tubes). After a few practice laps and a few minutes around the parking lot getting use to the control panel, we were off.
I was able to get about 31 miles out of the battery before the battery died on the final stretch at the end of the event. The control panel is on the left handlebar. A fully charged battery gives you 5 blue lights (in the photo you can see I only have one blue light left of battery). I purposely tried to use a lot of the battery during the event to max the battery out – I was out a little over 8 hrs on the bike. The 31 miles included 6.8 miles riding pavement from Bartlett to the Fort Rich overpass to T2; then about 24.1 miles riding back and forth between T2, the MTV, and the finish.
There are three levels of “assist”. I am not sure the official term but one red light is “low” assist, two red lights equal “medium” assist, and three red lights equal “high” assist. You select the levels of assistant by pushing up arrow and down arrow buttons on the control panel. When you select assist, the motor in the rear hub must somehow turn to give you extra rotation in the rear wheel beyond your pedaling effort. I was able to get to a max speed of about 23-24 mph on the pavement between the Fort Rich overpass and the 90 degree sharp left turn to Arctic Valley Road. There are no clutches, just start pedaling and push the up arrow button to get more and more assist. You don’t have to use the assist, you can just pedal like a normal bicycle.
The bikes were great, I definitely felt less tired riding 31 miles on an ebike
Top drop tube and comfy adjustable seat means the bike is perhaps a “one size fits all” bike that can be ridden by many volunteers
I think you could still have battery life left at the end of GNT if you primarily used the first two levels of assist, and rarely used the “high” assist
The bike rack that holds the battery is very handy, you could strap down a small duffel, potentially attach an antenna. We strapped down bear spray and air horns to keep them relatively close to us
Some things to be aware of:
The bike is heavier (perhaps 50% heavier) than a normal bike. Two people can comfortable lift it, but it is a bit of a challenge for one person to lift the bike
With the top curved tube, the bike is a challenge to place on some types of bike racks since there is no horizontal top tube. At the end of the event, ideally the bike would be returned to Trek back at Bartlett; or transported in a pickup truck or large van, or placed on a bike rack that has a wheel tray
I didn’t notice RFI during the day until the battery was low, then I would get some humm when pushing the assist button
If AARC is interested in purchasing ebikes at some point:
I am not sure how fast ebike technology changes, so if ebikes are used infrequently each year at AARC events, renting or having ebikes provided at events may be a good idea
If AARC would like to get ebikes, “rent before you buy” could be helpful to check out any RFI, look at potential antenna installation, try out the controls (see next)
Some control panels have bigger buttons (could be easier to use with gloves) and more features (e.g., speedometer, odometer) that may be beneficial
Understand the voltage and Ah capacity of the battery – I don’t know if an ebike model has different battery capacity options, but for public service events perhaps we would want the high Ah battery
Dave Webb commented about the potential to have solar panels set up for ebike charging; can an HT be plugged into the ebike battery? Lots of interesting potential!
If you have any follow up questions on these observations, please let me know.
Swim starts at 9 AM, then Bike, then Run. According to the GNT web site, the last batch of racers will start the swim around 12:45 to 1 PM. The average red latern time is about 2:18, so we might be finishing up around 3:30 to 4 PM.
There will be some traditional lane swimming that involves lap counters and timers for each lane. Most of the racers will do a snake swim.
A snake swim, has all swimmers entering and exiting the pool at the same location. The swim shall commence at the head of an end lane. Swimmers will swim up and back in that lane, then swim under the lane barrier and continue swimming up and back the next lane and so on until they come to the end of the far lane where they will exit the pool.
This race setup eliminates multiple lap counters and timers for each lane. We will have a Ham Radio Volunteer in the pool area.
12 mile Bike Course
After your swim, you will retrieve your bike from transition area 1 (T1 / Bike Corral) and follow the “Exit Bike” sign out of the southeast end of the Bartlett High School parking lot. Follow the flagging and spray chalk markings that will take you through a dirt connector path where you will ride briefly on Alaska Native Heritage Center Drive. Once you reach North Muldoon Road, you will take a sharp left onto the multi-use trail. The course follows the multi-use trail on the West side of the Glenn Highway, then to the JBER/Glenn Highway overpass. There you will see an APD officer and flagger pointing you to make a right turn and continue over the overpass. You will then see additional APD officers and more volunteers directing you to make a left onto Bear Run Lane.
After you turn left onto Bear Run Lane (that’s the left after going over the JBER/Glenn Highway overpass). You will ride north on the left side of Bear Run Lane until you get to the bike turn-around at mile 2.7. (Yes, you will make that turn around to the right). Then stay on the far left side again when going south on the road. Why, you ask? So that you do not cross over with other racers on their bikes when you get back to the intersection where you entered on to Bear Run Lane. It is quite counterintuitive, but trust us – it’s for the best. ONLY on Bear Run Lane will you always stay to your left-hand side.
After crossing the highway, Take a left on the Bear Run Lane (On Bear Run Lane all bicycles should travel on the left side of the road. With everyone on the left, there is no accident risk for crossing traffic) to the East side of the highway up to the Range control area, which is the turnaround. Back along Bear Run Lane, at the overpass, the road name changes to the Richardson Frontage Rd until it turns into Arctic Valley Road.
1.3 miles up Arctic Valley Road is Transition 2 (T2), the second transition area. A helpful T2 volunteer will gently take your bike and have it delivered by truck, back to the bike corral at Bartlett High School. Racers can pick up a gear bag, change into their running gear and start running.
At the transition area, there will be a Porta Potty, medical, water and Ham Radio Volunteers, and no spectators. It’s a limited space area with bicycles, runners, volunteers and trucks.
The AARC will supply FRS radios to the T2 volunteers
Done with the bike race by 3:30 PM?
3.5 mile Run
The run starts at the T2 transition area and follows the Tank Trail (appears on Google Maps as Oilwell Road) to Starview Dr and ends at Pena Sports Fields.
AARC has volunteered to safety patrol the run course by bicycle. There will be a Team One medic on an ATV roaming on the “Tank Trail”. Gate keys will be handled by the Run crew.
From a safety point of view, the Race Committee appeared to be most concerned with the run portion of the course.
There will be a dedicated sweep bicycle (not AARC) that will follow the last racer that leaves the pool, and will follow them through the bike course, T2, and the run course.
The finish line is at Pena Sports Fields there will be Porta Pottys, medical, water, food trucks, and the party. A Ham Radio Volunteer will be stationed here.
The last of the racers should be finishing by 4 PM?