To Bill Bryant,
The RUSA web site indicates that a goal of the organization is to promote randonneuring. This is consistent with what is stated in the RUSA Constitution.
Why, then, do you freely write and have published, an article that denigrates a large number of people in RUSA membership? Simply because they didn't complete PBP? What about their two years of accomplishments in qualifying to enter PBP? Why should a single ride's outcome wipe away the work and effort put into two years worth of training and qualifying?
Further, you state that "our long-term goal at RUSA is for the American contingent to finish each PBP at least as well as the average of the other countries." Neither the RUSA Constitution nor the RUSA Bylaws mention this goal! Never did any officer of RUSA indicate to the members (yes, I'm a member) that this was its goal. Where did this come from? Whose idea is this goal? And, why? How does this goal, as stated, promote randonneuring? What you imply is that non-finishers are not worthy of being called Randonneurs simply because they failed to complete one 1200KM ride, ignoring the fact that they completed two years of Brevets.
Further still, as a RUSA member who qualified to enter PBP through the Florida Brevets, I must take exception to your snide comment of, "had some 'anciens' told them about the never-ending hills at PBP this might have been avoided." We were constantly reminded about what to expect in France by the Florida Brevet Administrator, Jim Solanick, and he was always reminding us that we needed hill training beyond what Florida has to offer. For you to suggest that he (some 'anciens') didn't do this because of a few remarks on a survey form is an insult to the man and the exceptional work he has done to promote Brevets, BMB, and PBP to riders in Florida. I don't know whose remarks on a survey caused you to assume what went on in Florida, but you are wrong to place blame on Jim Solanick. If a rider of the Florida Brevets failed to listen to Jim's advice and counseling, their ignorance should be chastised, not Jim, nor the work he has done!
With regard to the percentages presented in your article: you state that the West Palm Beach Bicycle Club has a 56.5% DNF rating. Where did you get your figures? Did you check the Brevet finishers on the RUSA web site? My check found 39 riders who went to France qualified through WPBBC Brevets. Over 50 riders qualified for PBP in the 1999 WPBBC Brevet series compared to 11 from Florida who qualified for the previous PBP. Of the 50+, only 39 were able to, or wanted to, enter the PBP event. 18 did not finish, 21 did. A DNF rate of 46.15%, not 56.5% as you claim! Yes, 21 finishers qualified under the Florida Brevet series - that's 53.85% vs the 43.4% you implied in your article! Did you check which clubs qualified which riders as part of your statistics gathering?
Your article does more harm than good as far as I'm concerned. Quoting DNF statistics is negative! The only people who should care that they didn't finish are the ones who now have a goal for the next time around. Hey, I didn't finish BMB on my first and only attempt. BMB was not originally in my two-year plan, but my attempt there provided important lessens that helped me alter my training in order to complete PBP. Because your article did not focus on the positive effort of the past two years, you've offended those who put forth that effort. Those of us whom you have offended just might be where RUSA's promotion of long-distance bicycling needs to be focused in order to reach its goal!
1999 PBP 90:36 Arrivée
Ed Note: Bill Bryant responds