I’ve been slowly knocking off the smaller hills that I drive past on my my way to work each day. I’ve mainly been doing them by bike.
This morning, I left home at 0800BST (0700z), having packed my radio gear, some food and spare clothing into some bike-packing bags. I’d be taking the gravel bike.
A couple of km through the local woods and then around 25km of undulating road found me at the ‘Back of Hill of Fare’ car park, the start of an ascent route recommended by @GM4JXP Simon.
The first 2km of this was easily rideable on a nice forest track. As the track exited the forest, an earthy track rose to the right and I pushed the bike up this for about 1300m. A short path led to a cairn. Not the top, but probably the best viewpoint. Hill of Fare has a large flat top and probably limited views. I say probably, as I didn’t go any further, as the cairn was within the activation zone.
looking west up the ascent path
I didn’t have walking poles today and I needed something to hold the EFHW feedpoint and 1:49 autotransformer off the ground. The cairn was small and a bit unstable, so I decided to use the bike. Little did I know at that point that the bike would have a bigger role to play.
I fished the co-ax out of the bag, set up the carbon6 pole and wire. (The heather is long and a right pain at this location BTW.) I then realised that I’d not packed a BNC female-female adaptor. It normally lives on the 1:49. Mmm. Ok, I’d have to connect the 1:49 directly to the KX2 and run without any form of counterpoise. The following picture shoes how it all ended up.
bicycle (not very) mobile. KX2 is velcro’d on!
The activation commenced at 0918z on a suspiciously quiet 20m band. Well it actually commenced a few minutes before then when I called Simon up on 2m for his Complete.
My first HF contact, with @F6FTB revealed that there was deep fading and we couldn’t complete the QSO at that time. By 0930 I had nine in the log, including @TM2I on F/CR-216, which was a real struggle due to QSB and poor behaviour causing QRM. Thank you
40m was a little better, but still not great. Thirteen in the log in eleven minutes, GI, G, GM & PA. During the short pileup I did hear other stations, however, either due the band conditions or with just a point on offer, they didn’t hang around for a QSO.
I called it a day at 0946 but hung around on the summit for a further half hour, enjoying some food in the spring sunshine and slowly and carefully stowing the kit away.
I managed to ride most of the single track back down to the forest road (not bad for a gravel bike and I did pass a bemused mountain biker as I hurtled down the hill with luggage!) and the last 21km of road to work took me just about an hour, arriving at 1230BST.
The bands were in good shape early this morning and portable G stations had reported working VK on 17m and 20m. I suspect I missed it by an hour. So, not so good on the radio today, but nice to qualify a new summit and it was a fine day for a cycle.
Standing up operating was a refreshing (although enforced) change and it’s amazing how I was able to take in the views a lot more than normal. I didn’t get any reports of rf on my audio due to running the EFHW with no counterpoise straight out of the radio. I meant to ask but forgot. So if anyone reads this and does have anything to report, then please let me know.
Oh, last on the short list of hills that I can commute to is Brimmond Hill GM/ES-086, which is unfortunately 4km beyond my work. It sits on the edge of Aberdeen, so I’d like to think I can qualify that with a 2m Handheld, but I’ve not got a good track record of getting Aberdonians to answer my CQ calls on 2m!