Tierra Bella SAG2/7 After Action Report

Thanks, Bob Van Tuyl / K6RWY for this detailed report specific to the San Jose RACES group activity that occurred on April 22, 2023.


Tierra Bella SAG2/7 After Action Report

Last Monday I realized that I would need to retrain my body to wake up at 0400 in order to get ready for Tierra Bella. So, I began the strategy of going to bed an hour or so earlier each night last week and getting up earlier each day. It more or less worked.

I arrived at 0700 although my plan had been to arrive at 0630. I found the SAG drivers waiting for instruction so my arrival did not delay things. I was assigned to a Volkswagen Bus vehicle with a fiberglass roof. Remember the warning during the briefing. With some substantial duck tape and the mag mount we attached the antenna to the back gate of the bus at about 30 deg up from horizontal. Even with the horizontal to vertical loss we had signals most of the time.

My morning shift turned out to be about 35 miles on the Blue (77 mile) route. We had two incidents. The first was a lone rider with a dog carrier towed behind his bicycle. Apparently the new tubeless tires with gunk inside the tire to stop puncture leaks did not work well when he ran over some glass and had a cut. We tried pumping it up and he spun the tire to spread the gunk. At one point there was a spray of fine particles emanating from the tire as it spun. We packed him, the dog, the bike and the trailer to the rest stop (about a mile away). The mechanic was working on his tire a few minutes later. I believe I saw the dog trailer later that day but I am not sure.

The second rider in the morning just had a worn out tire, threads showing. It turned out he did not have a spare tire so we returned him to his vehicle. He had about 30 miles on the odometer and was happy with his day even though he got a flat.

At this point Mark’s time was over and I went looking for my next ride. Turned out that he had a regular sedan and I unloaded the equipment and loaded it into Kevin’s vehicle. Mark was SAG2 and Kevin was SAG7. Just a note about my radio. I built a box for the radio and it was designed to separate into the head and speaker and the body and hookups with an umbilical linking the two parts. In the Volkswagen there was not enough room in the passenger seat in which to place the body. So I placed it on its side between the two seats (there is a gap between the driver and passenger seats). It had to be placed on its side because the width of the box was larger than the distance between the seats. In the afternoon I placed the body as I had planned under my legs in the front passenger seat area.

The antenna cable was also a bit of a problem in the VW. Since the antenna was at the back of the vehicle and the body of the radio was at the front of the vehicle the cable just reached but was about 2 inches off the floor of the back compartment. This was not a problem when just the driver and I were in the vehicle, but I needed to caution our passengers (including the pooch) about the trip hazard and the potential loss of the antenna feed line.

Kevin and I spent the first couple of hours driving around one of the circuits without seeing anybody. Unfortunately we got to chatting and I turned the radio down so that I could hear him. Big mistake as I missed some calls. When we got to the San Martin Rest Stop it was brought to my attention. However, this happened a couple more times when we needed to talk to people outside of the car and the radio made that impossible.

Pretty late in the day we were given instructions to follow the Green track towards the Start/Finish point. During that movement we heard of a down rider from the Chitititack (spelling) rest stop. There appeared to be a SAG vehicle at the rest stop that was dispatched to offer assistance. Not confirmed by me but there was also a statement that a police officer was also at the rest stop and left immediately to offer assistance. It was also reported that there was no cell service at the site of the incident. We were further away than the rest stop but after a few minutes we came upon the incident site. When we arrived (to the best of my recollection) there were three or four police officers (Highway Patrol and/or Local not sure) on scene. We stopped to offer assistance. A fire truck arrived either just as we did or shortly after we arrived with EMTs on board. They began assessment. Kevin talked to the officers and a friend of the rider and agreed to take the bicycle to the Incident Command Center at Gavilan College for later pickup by the friend of the rider. After the officers finished searching for (and not finding) the serial number for the bicycle we packed it up and continued our tasked route. An ambulance arrived just before we left and the plan was to transport her to a hospital.

When we got back to the college Kevin handed the bicycle over to the SAG Coordinator and the rider’s friend arrived. They tested the bicycle for damage (found none) and loaded it into her car.

This next bit is just hearsay from things I heard. Apparently the driver was attempting to pass the bicycles when another vehicle appeared in the other lane coming towards her. To avoid a head on collision she moved back into her lane bumping the bicyclist which caused the fall. The driver immediately stopped and tried to help the rider. The rider’s friend also stayed with the down rider. The bicycle appeared undamaged so it appears that the rider’s body took the bump from the vehicle. She had a bad fall regardless of the cause. She did get volunteer and professional help very quickly.

Bob Van Tuyl