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GoldRiver300 - Contingency Arrangements

I have been asked by a number of people what the arrangements will be to track participants of the GoldRiver300 rally around the courses and I have now put the final piece in place for the event next year.

There are going to be seven independent system methods to track people around the routes over the three days. None of the systems are perfect in their own right, each has strengths and weaknesses, so running all the systems together, functional gaps can be minimised.

I'll tell you what they are first, then go into each of them to discuss how they work, their strengths and weaknesses and finally go over them again so you can decide where you want to place yourself.

Disclaimer: I am not a tech expert, guru or sauvant. Sometimes I'm barely a user. If you get stuck with something I will probably not be the best person to solve your technical problems.

At the outset, my intention is to have this motosport of roadbook rally be relatively low risk. It's not a race or a speed event (forget anything you've seen on YouTube or social media of "heroes" riding full throttle over miles of desert/sand dunes/beaches at 200kmh - we haven't the places or the space to do that), speeds will be sensible - not walking pace but also not highway speeds.

We won't be miles from nowhere, in fact if you look at the maps we won't be more than 40 or 50km away from somewhere....

The roads will all be, well, roads. We cannot go anywhere that doesn't have routine public access. Things may get a bit overgrown and jungly on occasion but the required speeds will be adjusted to suit.

And of course, none of us are in this for fame, fortune or glory so there is no need to leave anything (metaphorically) out on the course....

So, the seven "systems"

Census taking at the Start, Passage and Finish controls. Count everybody out and count them in again.

Tracking through Richta Rally Timing app.

InReach or Zoleo personal satellite communication devices (there are other systems).

Tracking InReach and Zoleo through SpotWalla satellite tracking.

iPhone 14 and Android smartphone satellite SOS text calls.

Gaia position finding and "get you home" route plotting.

Sweep rider(s) starting after the last starter and checking census counts at the Passage Controls.

1. Start, Passage and Finish control census taking. This is easy to understand. Paper based, lists of names, bikes and start times. Event management 101. The event staff at the Passage controls have the same list as the Start control. Tick 'em off on the way in and tick 'em off on the way out. Doesn't tell though where missing riders are, just that they are somewhere between the control points (CPs). Relies on participants having the good grace to check in and out of the CPs..... bleedin' obvious, innit?

2. Richta monitoring. When a Richta Competitor app is on and in cell-signal range, the position of that smartphone is relayed via the cell system back to the Richta RallyMaster app on my phone/iPad. The position information is updated more or less continually on the map shown in RallyMaster. This feature relies on cell service - go out of range and the position shown is the last position you had signal, until you get back into a cell and then your position is updated. The Richta Competitor app is free to download and the subscription fee is built into the entry fee, so there really isn't any barrier to everyone using this app even if it is only for tracking purposes.

3. InReach and Zoleo satellite communications. These devices are almost, but not quite, satellite mobile phones (to give them a very basic description). They are able to monitor your position by GPS and transfer messages via satellite and message control rooms to emergency services and mobile phones, depending on the level of service you pay for. On the most basic level, they have an SOS button on them that when activated transmits your SOS call and your GPS position to a control room that then forwards the message to emergency services nearest to you. The devices cost about the same as a mobile phone and there is a monthly subscription of the order of $80-$100 last time I looked. Not a cheap option but it has been proved to work many times over. Highly recommended if you are going Sasquatch in the jungle. Given we are not going off the beaten path, I can't insist event participants have one.

4. SpotWalla. SpotWalla is a web/app system that tracks InReach and Zoleo (and other systems) geolocation transmissions and displays them on a (Google Earth) map. If you have a InReach or Zoleo device AND you have joined the SpotWalla event I have set up, your geolocation information will be displayed on the SpotWalla map. You have to pay a modest subscription to SpotWalla to have your position displayed on the event map, a small amount compared to your InReach/Zoleo costs. Elite-level events insist on satellite tracking and monitor participants positions on systems such as this as their events are remote, individual efforts ridden at speed. We aren't at that stage yet.

I have named the SpotWalla event GoldRiver300 and set the start date as Friday 9th June 2023, a fortnight before the event, in order to give people plenty of time to get their tech in order.

In order view the event on the SpotWalla website you need to join SpotWalla as a user then go to Location Pages and search for the Event.

To view the event you will need the password GPZ900R

To join the event you will need your InReach/Zoleo device information and the password XL600R

If there is a consensus opinion that the event needs to visible much earlier than two weeks before the event I can alter the start date.

The obvious shortcoming of this system is that it requires people participating to have a satellite tracking device, a cost that some may be unwilling to bear....

5. iPhone 14 and Android smartphone satellite SOS text messaging. You can use your (recent) smartphone to contact emergency services when out of cell signal on newer smartphones. The process of placing a SOS message differs from phone to phone but the facility is there - I presume you are already familiar with the capability of your phone....?

6. Gaia. I am presuming everyone will have a subscription-paid copy of this app on their smartphone.... and that they will have downloaded maps for our area of interest. You wouldn't be considering going into the jungle without a map, would you???

Event participants doing the "touring" class of this event will have to have Gaia in order to view the routes. The "competition" participants will of course be navigating by roadbook, not by Gaia but if you were to get horribly lost and didn't know where the b'jesus you were Gaia will tell you exactly where you are and will plot a route for you back to somewhere sensible. Ok, it's no help if you are broken down or injured, but it is a tool for self-rescue. Just be honest about your Gaia use when you get back, huh?

7. In time-honoured style, there will be a course sweep. One or two event staff riders will set out after the last starter, with knowledge of the route everyone is following. They will have a copy of the start list for cross-reference with the census lists at the Passage and Finish controls. Any missing names and they will double back to search for whoever hasn't checked in.

There is no point entertaining the use of shortwave radios, the distances are too great and the terrain too mountainous for any kind of transmission range to be likely.

To sum up, to track participant's progress around the course there are

Event management monitoring methods, participant censuses and the course sweep

There is self-rescue technology by use of Gaia mapping

There is satellite SOS text messaging to emergency services by enabled smartphones

There is low-cost satellite/cell service tracking by Richta

There is higher cost satellite tracking with InReach/Zoleo and event monitoring at a small further cost with SpotWalla.

Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, none offer a "one size fits all" solution, but together every angle is covered. If you can see something I have forgotten please tell me!

Best wishes



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