While we certainly work hard to develop, market and sell radio technology for future communication systems, hopefully everyone finds work and life in the microwave field rewarding. Considering the massive effort behind 5G development and other technologies, it is a pleasure and honor to attend IMS (and EuMW) and have the chance to re-unite with industry friends/colleagues, meet new acquaintances, and find ourselves in locations we may never have visited on our own.

While being away from home can be tough, industry gatherings re-invigorate on a personal and professional level. These events offer a place where business ideas are exchanged and opportunities discovered. And while the communication systems we help enable allow us to form interpersonal connections from remote locations, events such as IMS provide that valuable face-to-face experience, a collective sharing of knowledge among gifted and giving people who are there to share.

As someone who writes about RF products, applications, and RF engineering in general, I find the technical talks, new product demos, media or vendor meetings, and networking opportunities at these events to be vital to my job function.  And through years of conversations, I have come to appreciate that this industry is comprised of many talented individuals with diverse personalities, points of view, and interests. The diversity and passion within our community are important qualities as we develop technology “for the benefit of humanity” per the IEEE mission statement. And, as IMS provides the technical inspiration and energy to feed every engineer’s mind and soul, I’ve been carving out time at recent shows to do something for the body as well. And I’m not alone.

Many IMS attendees can be found before breakfast in their hotel fitness centers working off late-night customer dinners on the treadmill or weight set. The more adventurous may enjoy early morning or late afternoon runs through city streets or nearby parks. I’ve had some great runs in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Boston. I can still remember my shoes melting on pavement in Phoenix. But recently I’ve discovered a better way to discover IMS’ host cities.

In 2016, while attending EuMW in London, I was told that the Velodrome track in the nearby Olympic village was available to the public. A free Sunday afternoon before the show provided the perfect opportunity to sign up for an hour of track time and I was off to the races.

Fig 1
Velodrome at the Olympic Village in East London

Riding fast up the side of a wall was absolutely exhilarating and provided a great story to share throughout the rest of the conference week, which really helped break the ice with new and less familiar acquaintances. By the end of the week, several industry folks and I were already planning another ride for IMS in Hawaii. Although our riding party shrunk to myself and Glenn Toal from Sematron UK, we still managed to have a fantastic morning ride with our trek along Waikiki beach, venture to Diamond Head, and challenging climb up to the Tantalus Lookout (1,000-foot vertical ascent). This time, two of us had a story to share with other exhibitors and attendees.

Fig 2
Riding the coast and hills around Honolulu

Planes, Trains and Bicycles

Planning to attend EuMW in Nuremberg last fall, I found it most cost-effective to extend the trip with a weekend stay to reduce the airfare. Not being one to sit idle in a hotel, I quickly made plans for a ride. To make the most of the location, I picked an ambitious, 120-mile ride from Plzen in the Czech Republic back to the hotel where I was staying with a number of MTT-S and EuMA adcom members. Surely, this crew would be a sight for sore eyes should I survive the long day in the saddle.

Given the short notice and lengthy ride, finding a riding partner proved difficult. Accepting my fate as a solo rider, the adventure actually began with planning the logistics to transport bike and luggage from the Munich Airport to multiple trains to the hotel. Once safely settled in my hotel room, I assembled my bike and took it out for a short spin to take in the sights of Nuremberg and make sure the bike had survived travel and reassembly without suffering any mechanical issues. In short order, my hotel room took on the appearance of a dorm room. 

Fig 3
Bike assembly and train ride to starting line

The following day (Sunday), I took a train to the starting line in Plzen for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Starting at 5:00 a.m. in the pre-dawn, I rode with the early commuters out of town and into the Czech countryside. Eleven hours later, I entered my hotel lobby in Nuremberg to see familiar faces gathering to make pre-show dinner plans, smiled, and confirmed to those who asked – why yes, I had just gone for a bike ride. In the end, the planning and execution went off without a hitch, and I had a pretty good tale to tell.

Fig 4
Sights and route from Plzen to Nuremberg

So, with IMS 2018 fast approaching, I have been looking at possible local rides while reaching out to fellow riders from our industry who might be interested in hitting the road with me. We can all agree that time is hard to come by at IMS and so flexibility is paramount. With this in mind, I have proposed one longer ride on Monday morning (6am) from Downtown Philly (Rocky Statue) to Valley Forge. This flat route along the Schuylkill (ask a local how to pronounce it, I get corrected every time) is 45 miles round trip, but riders can shorten it to any length to fit their schedules. I’ve named this ride the Valley Forge Fondo. Throughout the rest of the week, riders are encouraged to meet daily, if they choose, again at the Rocky Statue (5:30 a.m.) for rides that fit their own time constraints.

Details for the Monday ride are below. I hope you can join us or at least buy a rider a beer afterwards. Perhaps a pilsner. May the Forge be with you.

Fig 5

Fig 6