The BP MS150 is a two-day fund-raising bike tour for the Lone Star Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every April about 13,000+ bike riders make their way from just outside Houston, TX along county roads to the eventual destination of downtown Austin, TX in the shadow of the State Capital Building. Riders will travel between 65 and 100 miles each day depending on the route they take. This ride requires a large logistical effort to support all 13,000+ riders.
Along the route riders will stop at break points and lunch stops spaced about every 10-15 miles. At these locations they are able to use port-o-potties, refill their water containers, gets some snacks, get their bike repaired, receive medical attention, and if they are too tired to continue a ride to the next break point. The riders overnight in La Grange, TX with most riders spending the night at the Fayette County fair grounds in a massive tent city constructed for the ride.
With over 13,000+ riders participating each year a large logistical armada of 3000+ volunteers supports the riders and insures everyone gets to the finish line each day. Examples of some of the many logistical efforts include: Medical teams that patrol the route and staff aid stations at break points, SAG Vans and Buses that pickup riders with bike problems and shuttle them to the next break point, Supply trucks that keep the break points stocked with supplies, Motorcycle Marshals that keep the riders on their side of the road and provide other assistance, and ride officials keep an eye on the overall operation to insure things run smoothly.
Communications Is A Key Part
With the huge logistical effort that the ride requires, communications as always a key part to the success of the bike tour. The ride utilizes communication resources that include commercial, public safety, and of course Amateur Radio to make sure all the logistical pieces come together and information flows where it needs to so we have a successful ride. The ride could not operate without these communications resources and the volunteers that make it happen.
Each year 140+ Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) from the region volunteer for the bike tour. There are a range of assignments for this event that include fixed setups at break points, teams of operators for SAG Stop controlling, temporary vehicle setups, shadowing ride officials, and staffing the Houston Command Post. More detailed information on the various assignment categories for the bike tour are available on the Assignment Information Page. We are always looking for new Amateur Radio Operators to join the team.
The bike tour provides some excellent hands on communication training for Ham Radio Operators as the bike tour is essentially a slow-moving evacuation of people heading to Austin (but on bikes). Operators get experience dealing with several different radio nets and repeater systems, practice the use of tactical call signs, deal with temporary vehicle setups, and in some cases unique fixed location setups. Though most hams have experienced these things before with other public service events, the bike tour provides an opportunity to experience them on a larger and practical scale.