Surfing the Bands in “Mer Bleue” – QRP Byke-Portable

Finally August happened, and it did it with a sunny day. I decided to go for a few hours of “HF from the Park” and pay a first visit this season to the woods in the western end of the “Mer Bleue” conservation area – with an added a twist: I decided to ride on the bike. I often thought about biking to “Mer Bleue” but I never attempted it mainly because of the lack of bike-paths and narrow shoulders on Walkley Rd. beyond the bridge over Highway 417.

Though a bit shaken by the many cracks and holes on Ridge Rd. – a country road badly abused by commuters looking for a shortcut – the Nishiki (1977, “Shields Nishiki”, “Custom Sport”, “Made by Nakamura”, serial Nr. CG02646, where the “C” is for “Canada” and the “G” is for the last “7” in “1977”) and I reached Anderson Rd. and Ridge Rd. in good spirits. I set the operate CW QRP/P from a pic-nic table on the shade, where I was quickly swarmed by a resident crew of determined Culex pipens, and had to call on DEET (“deet” not “dit”… – SRI couldn’t resist) to keep them at bay, since West Nile Virus is now “endemic” in the Ottawa Valley (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-mosquitoes-west-nile-virus-1.4222734).

Cycle Ham

I used a small fishing rod to get the PAR EndFedZ “Trail-Friendly” tribander up a tree. The background noise in the KX3 was almost nonexistent. But so were the CQ calls: nothing in 20m, nothing in 40m and also nothing in 30m and 17m (yes, the KX3 ATU can tune the tribander in those bands too). Then, with the preamp on, in 20m I was able to hear CQ’s from Hungary, Mexico and Aruba. However, the QSO that saved the day was one with Dusan S51KD calling CQ from Cerklje ob Krki in Eastern Slovenia.

After a couple of hours I decided it was time to let the old Nishiki try her dodging skills in the cracks and holes on the other side of Ridge Rd.

I had hoped to be able to see a detailed APRS track broadcasted by the TH-D72A. However, a rubber-ducky antenna at belt height does not seem enough to reach the local APRS relay stations, and only three points were acknowledged in the APRS map (see attached picture where it is overlaid on the actual route).

In the end, the 40-year old Nishiki and myself had rode together 13.6 more kilometers. This does not seem much until one realizes that the “Shields Nishiki” and myself have been together for a long time and our ages add up to way beyond 100 years.

It is sad to see a picturesque rural road such as Ridge Rd. so much deteriorated by its frequent access by cars and trucks (in spite of signs limiting tonnage). It is also a shame that no bike paths or wider shoulders exist on Walkley Rd. west of Highway 417, on Ramsayville Rd. and on Ridge Rd., all the way to the “Mer Bleue” boardwalk (http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places-to-visit/greenbelt/mer-bleue).

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