PARA Members Help with Communications at Black Moshannon YMCA Mountain Bike Race

Posted 14-August-2011

On August 13th the Black Moshannon YMCA Mountain Bike Race was held on a rather grueling course over dirt roads and mountain trails in Black Moshannon State Park. Amateur Radio played a key role in providing race officials with the ability to communicate with checkpoints along the race route. This was the second year for the race and nearly 100 racers participated in the competition. The race is organized by the Moshannon Valley YMCA (Philipsburg) and is a fundraising event for the YMCA.

Amateur radio operators from the Philipsburg Amateur Radio Association, as well as hams from the Nittany Amateur Radio Club and Centre County ARES/RACES pooled resources to provide the needed communications assistance. The communications effort was coordinated by Carmine Prestia K3CWP, the Centre County ARES Emergency Coordinator. In addition to Carmine, the following hams were on hand to help out: Bernie RopchockW3BAR, Chip Morgan N3IW, Jim Alles KB3TBX, Lou Trubiani WB3AAI, John Szwarc N3SPW, Greg Miller K3GEM, John Passaneau W3JXP, Elaine Prestia K3ERP and Mike Coslo N3LI.

The ham radio operators were positioned at strategic locations along the race route to watch for and report any difficulties with the racers. Fortunately no injuries occurred but they did report several incidents of bicycle mechanical failure back to race officials at the finish line. This was especially important because cell phone coverage within the park is limited at best. Amateur radio was really the only way race officials could have any idea what was happening on the course. Race officials were immediately aware of riders who dropped out of the race due to mechanical failure or fatigue and what their location was. The amateur radio communications effort was an invaluable resource to the race organizers and they were grateful for the assistance provided.


Pre-race briefing conducted by Carmine Prestia K3CWP, Centre County ARES Emergency Coordinator.

Pictured left to right are Jim, KB3TBX; Bernie, W3BAR; John, N3SPW; Caitlin; Greg, K3GEM; Chip, N3IW; John, W3JXP; Elaine, K3ERP; Carmine, K3CWP; and Lou, WB3AAI

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