Finish Line

What do you get when you combine a cross-country cycling race and raising money for charity? The answer, of course, is a whole lot of awesome. You got just that in the 2017 Race Across America, a solo and team cycling race spanning over 3000 miles from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis MD. The race took place between June 13th and 23rd, with the team riders beginning on the 17th.

As with any cross country trip the need to be able to contact someone at any given time is essential. When you take into account the constant need for communication in a cross-country cycling race and the risk involved, the need for better connectivity becomes apparent. This is where SatPhoneStore got involved.

We were approached by the eight rider team from Canada, Team True Patriot Love (Team TPL). They were looking for a quality way to stay connected throughout the race. After an in depth discussion of their needs we came to the conclusion that the technology that would best suit their need for constant connectivity in a rugged, durable package was Iridium Push-to-Talk (PTT).

Once Team TPL was outfitted with their PTT satellite phones they were off to the races. Throughout the race the team battled extreme conditions and a rapidly changing terrain. The capability and flexibility of the Iridium Extreme PTT played a crucial role. They used six Iridium Extreme PTT handsets, with vehicular antennas mounted to their RV and chase vehicles. We set up three talkgroups for team members and crew, which allow unlimited push to talk calling among members of each group.

The easy to use Iridium PTT portal allowed the team to make changes to the talkgroup coverage area on the fly.  Having a reliable communication system not dependant on terrestrial networks enabled them to keep in constant communciation throught the entirety of the race.

"When we started on this adventure we discussed logistical aspects with past teams including the need to keep constant contact. The consensus was that the challenge of keeping larger teams in contact was problematic using just FRS radios and cell phones due to course terrain and lack fo coverage. The race goes where it goes and it’s often not on the beaten path," crew member Don Dageneis stated.

"Atlantic Radio Telephone provided Iridium PTT handsets which allowed all of our vehicles to stay in contact 24/7 during the event. And they are as easy as walkie talkies to use. Frankly, they worked when other things did not."

The comms setups in the RV's were not the most beautiful assemblies to behold but they got the job done.  In the picture to the right you can see  (Clockwise from Top)  the Route GPS, Vehicle Tracker Bug, Cell for Route Updates and Emergencies, Walkie Talkie for Communication with Riders, Walkie Talkie for Communication with Drivers, and the Iridium Extreme PTT for communication with all teams and riders.  Notice the Iridium PTT handset is sporting the Emergency Red version of SatPhoneStore's protective skin.

Team TPL was able to complete the race in under 6 days and came in 2nd place by only 30 minutes! This time was good enough to set the Canadian team speed record. More importantly, Team TPL rose over $120k for the True Patiot Love Foundation, a charity that honors the sacrifices of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans and their families in both times of peace and conflict. 

For more information about Team TPL and additional photos click here

For more information about the True Patriot Love Foundation click here