On Saturday, June 18th, the Monroe Amateur Radio Club assisted Blount County ARES with the Cherohala Challenge! This event took place in beautiful Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and preparations began before sunrise the day of the event to ensure the sustainability of the race participants.
The Cherohala Challenge is a bicycle race that has four routes -35 mile route; 53 mile route; 62 mile route; and 115 mile route. These routes traverse mountainous terrain through Tellico Plains, Ball Play, Madisonville, Vonore, the Tail of the Dragon, Joyce Kilmer National Forest, and the Cherohala Skyway, along the highways and backroads in Tennessee and North Carolina. These routes predominately have little to no cell phone coverage, making the use of amateur radio communication needed that much more. More information can be found at the Smoky Mountain Wheelman Bike Club.
Members from the MARC, along with members from Loudon County ARES, Roane County ARES, and Tellico Village Amateur Radio Club, assisted Blount County ARES with communications via three linked repeaters and linked simplex frequency, and provided SAG support for race participants.
The communications for this event used the W4YJ 145.250 MHz, KK4DKW 145.270 MHz, KK4DKW 444.775 MHz repeaters, with a linked simplex frequency. Throughout the day the controlled net received multiple pieces of information relating to the race, including emergency traffic. The two net control operators worked well to receive and disseminate information to other radio operators on the net, and to appropriate race and emergency officials.
These efforts by all the members from other clubs and ARES agencies served to be a great mutual aid operation and provided training to all who participated.