Essential Elements

photo (15)

Disaster Relief Trials Portland 2012. Travis Wittwer transcribes amateur radio operator-communicated competitor status data to the Leader Board.


Disaster Relief Trials is a competition format born of two missions:
1. Showcase the relevance of cargo bikes to disaster relief.  Dramatically, entertainingly, authentically.
2. Stimulate the development of technique and equipment for most effective cargo bike-based relief.


1. CHECKPOINTS Competitors visit (5) or more staffed checkpoints in order, creating a circuit. Checkpoint addresses, features, and order will be revealed one hour prior to start on laminated Rider Map. Competitors design their own routing between checkpoints. Because checkpoints are the only places that competitors must visit prior to finishing, the required circuit features below (barrier, water feature, cargo, competition monitoring) must be incorporated into these checkpoints.
2. BARRIER (1) one meter tall barrier, to be visited by competitors after they accumulate at least 25kg of relief supplies.
3. WATER FEATURE (1) water crossing, at least 15cm deep
4. ROUGH TERRAIN (1) section of off-road terrain, rough enough to make most competitors dismount and walk at least once, 400 meters or longer
5. CARGO 50kg accumulated payload. Must include an inadequately protected (3) eggs parcel, representing fragile relief supplies such as medicine vials. Each broken egg results in a 10 minute penalty.
6. DURATION (3) hours or more for the fastest competitors.
7. COMPETITION MONITORING At least one mid-circuit checkpoint and the start/finish line checkpoint must be staffed by local ham radio operators who provide real-time competitor status information, recorded on a finish line-located results board displayed such that spectators have a prominent view (see photo above).
8. RIDER MAP Laminated annotated checkpoint map and 1″ spring clamp supplied to competitors 1 hour prior to start.
9. START LeMans start!
10. SAFETY Competitors must comply with all traffic laws all the time to avoid immediate *or* post-competition disqualification.
11. MOTORS A separated e-assist competition category may be offered as long as off-grid dead battery charging capability is demonstrated by competitors.  E-assist competitors must describe their proven off-grid battery charging system within the on-line registration form.  A photo of the charging system must be submitted via e-mail prior to registration acceptance.  A two minute head-start will be granted to e-assist competitors who bring their off-grid charging systems to the registration tent at least one hour prior to start and demonstrate successful charging.
12. ELECTRONIC NAVIGATION DEVICES Only the electric assist class may use electronic navigation devices. Off-grid charging of a dead device battery must be demonstrated.


8 thoughts on “Essential Elements

    • antload

      Thanks for the question! As long as one rider rides one bike exclusively for the entire event, said rider may enter as an individual (as opposed to Family or Team). Equip your bike with whatever makes navigating, awkward cargo lashing, heavy cargo hauling, fragile cargo hauling, barrier portaging, flooded street fording, and rough terrain riding easiest (funnest).


    • antload

      No, but that’s a great question. From the hip:

      1. Well-tuned 50kg+ payload-rated cargo bike or bike and trailer, compatible with large (palet sized) awkward cargo. Equipped with fenders, rough terrain-able tires, and a rock-solid center stand.
      2. Lots of high-security lash straps, compatible with rapid cargo attachment, detachment, and re-attachment.
      3. Helmet.
      4. Grease pencil for marking laminated mission map.
      5. Roadside repair kit and ability to use it for common repairs (mostly flats).
      6. Fully charged mobile phone for emergencies.
      7. 1.5+ liters of water with electrolytes (water available at some of the Checkpoints).
      8. Easy to digest moral-boosting snacks: fast and slow-burning.


    • Exactly one hour prior to start, each competitor gets a laminated checkpoint map, which includes a manifest. The manifest is a list of checkpoints, listed in the order they must be visited. Each checkpoint listed has a signature slot and a description of the activity required at the checkpoint: obstacle and/or cargo p/u. The bottom of the manifest includes slots for overall time and time penalties for “broken medicine” (egg challenge) or “light water bucket” (water cargo).


  1. Curious: have you ever tried having competitors visit checkpoints in any order they want vs following a specific order? Was thinking it would spread the riders out across the course, plus add a trip-planning element to the competition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • antload

      We haven’t tried that, but have thought about it! Logistically, it means checkpoint staff must have longer shifts and spectators can’t witness the status of the competition (ie leaders) during the heat of the battle. Also, the concept of keeping close track of Supply Runners is important and a prescribed circuit order helps in this regard….that all being said, either way, a home Base leader board would be used to log the checkpoint visits as radioed-in, so spectators could still witness drama on the leader board.

      We already have zero routing prescribed, just destination, so route finding is an currently an important element, but would be much more so if your suggestion was implemented…

      In the end, the idea is to design an event protocol that can be transferred from city to city with the least amount of work, so some otherwise great and appropriate design ideas sometimes get suppressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We just had a preliminary planning meeting. Question came up about the Speed element (since it is a race). Have you ever gotten push-back or complaints about have a race on open streets and trails? Have you considered revising the structure to a points based on tasks completed or something similar?


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