Post Activity Report: Bike the Trail 2010 - An Amateur public service event.

“Bike The Trail” is an easy, scenic, 25km bike ride down the Hutt River trail from Harcourt Park at Brown Owl to Hikoikoi Reserve, Petone. In 2009 over 1500 of the public participated.

This year the event was scheduled for Sunday 28 February, which turned out to be an eventful day for a more global reason than a local bike ride.

The VHF Group was again asked to support the safety arrangements of this event by providing Radio Marshalls for fourteen stations throughout the course. Planning started early, led by Mark ZL1VMF our coordinator, and this year included a meeting with the Resilience Trust, who were to provide the first-aid response. It was decided that we would provide an additional Marshall to travel in their first-response vehicle, to improve co-ordination.

Our team assembled in the car-park of Melling railway station at 0800, to receive a briefing from Mark ZL1VMF, and were issued with their hi-viz safety jerkins. Thanks to our generous sponsor these are emblazoned with Wellington VHF Group and Amateur Radio Communication labels, good for publicity purposes!

No sooner was the briefing completed at 0820, and Marshalls on their way to the various course stations, when Civil Defence advised the organisers that they would not be able to use Hikoikoi Reserve as the finish of the event. This was due to risk associated with the tsunami warning resulting from the severe earthquake earlier in Chile. Hikoikoi is situated at the mouth of the Hutt River, almost at sea level. The organisers quickly reverted to their contingency plan to run only the top half course from Brown Owl to Stokes Valley. The original plan effectively offered two courses, the shorter 12km Stokes Valley to Hikoikoi, and the full 25km Brown Owl to Hikoikoi. Included in the original arrangement was a fleet of trucks to ferry riders and their bikes back to their point-of-origin after the party (free BBQ, music) at the finish.

The contingency plan included re-deploying the trucks to Stokes Valley to take starters from there up to Brown Owl, to enable all starters to get a ride. This of course meant that all participants would now travel the Brown Owl to Stokes Valley sector.

A good number of cyclists opted to ride the trail back to Harcourt Park (as opposed to taking the provided transportation) to extend their ride back to ~25km. We were forced to improvise some additional protection for cyclists passing the Hull Creek Pumping Station, as the volume of southbound cyclists occupying the cycle-lane adjacent the narrow bridge was forcing northbound traffic onto the road - a dangerous situation when you consider how narrow the road is (and that this is an 80km/h stretch!). Photo by Andy ZL2ADR.

Using our 710 repeater, Mark ZL1VMF soon had the Marshalls re-deployed, and Rick ZL2TVY, our Base Marshall, had the roll-call on 710 repeater complete before the start time. The event went well, with 1400 participants. The usual bumps and scrapes generally only required sticking–plaster and a re-assuring word. Only one serious injury required the attendance of an ambulance. This incident was capably handled by Ross ZL2UAC, at Marshall Station Four. Our 710 repeater provided generally good coverage of the course, although a few difficult areas will be investigated for the future.

Radio Marshals at the debrief, Stokes Valley. Zoe, one of the Event staff, pictured at far left.

A big thank you to those who gave their time for this event. First of all Mark ZL1VMF our able coordinator, plus Radio Marshals: Bruce ZL2ABC, Rob ZL2WAL, John ZL2AST, Dick ZL2TGQ, Ross ZL2UAC, Peter ZL3TJ, Robin ZL4TRS, Phil ZL2OWL, Randall ZL2RJP, Andy ZL2ADR, Paul ZL2UGR, Richard ZL2AJC, Rick ZL2TVY, and Tom ZL2TDD. We look forward to an opportunity to contribute to our community again at the 2011 event.

Article and Group Photograph with thanks to Dick ZL2TGQ. Mark ZL1VMF (as Head Marshal) would also like to recognise the volunteers from Resilience Trust for their cooperation from both a planning and execution perspective, and Upper Hutt and Hutt City Councils for their support.