RUSA exists thanks to the volunteers who have stepped up and offered their time, knowledge and energy. As the organization moves from one president to the next, now is the perfect time to meet some of the RUSA volunteers who work behind the scenes. Read on to find out who those folks are and what they do for RUSA.
John Lee Ellis
City, State: Louisville, Colorado (near Boulder)
Work experience: Software Engineer/Designer
Years in RUSA: 5 (since 1998)
Positions I've held in RUSA: Colorado RBA, RUSA Secretary
Current position: Colorado RBA, RUSA Vice President
What my RUSA job entails: As VP: "special assignments" — I can't go into further details, of course.
Why I decided to "step-up" and volunteer in RUSA: As an RBA: To have a good local brevet series in place for Colorado riders (including me!). Besides, I really enjoy designing a route, and then having people go out and have fun with it. As a board member: the glitz factor is part of it, of course, but I'm glad to have the chance to help our members with RUSA's excellent programs and organizational attitude—we really have something going here.
How I got started in randonneuring: A friend talked me into riding the inaugural BMB (1988). Before that, I'd mainly been doing solo touring and double centuries on my own. In 1989, I rode my first brevets—a 400k and 600k to qualify for BANC (Bike Across North Carolina), and in 1991, rode a full brevet series to qualify for Paris and train for RAAM — the brevets turned out to be a fair amount of fun, and good training, too. Well, it was all downhill from there, so to speak.
Brevet experience & awards: Raleigh'89 400k, 600k; Bamberg SC'91 full series; Raleigh'91 300k; Colorado'94 200k, 400k; Colorado'95 200k; Colorado'98 200k, 300k, 400k; Colorado'00-'03 full series (plus '02,'03 Flèche, '02 1000k, '01,'02 fall 200k). 1200K's: BMB'88,'90, PBP'91,'99. Awards: Super-Randonneur '91,'99-'03; RUSA 1000k '01,'03; RUSA 2000k '02; Randonneur-5000 '02
Most memorable brevet and why: the 1994 Colorado 400k— four crossings of the Continental Divide above 10,000 ft., stunning mountain and sage landscapes, dodging "pot-shot" thunderstorms during the day (and wildlife at night, descending the final pass after dark). I'll also mention my first 400k, out of Raleigh: I did everything "right"—short stops, good pace, started at 4 a.m., coming in bedraggled at 12:45 a.m. after countless hills and broiling sun in the 90's, plus dodging snakes in the road at night … still, the second rider to finish.
Biggest "rookie" mistake: Not enough sunscreen.
Other cycling activities: UMCA Mileage Challenge (riding and administering), ride planning for Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, touring the Colorado mountains and plains.
Brevet bike(s): white Kestrel SC-200, green De Rosa (Columbus SL steel)—both of these are RAAM and PBP veterans, comfortable for the long miles and nimble at the same time.
Favorite post-ride meal: my wife's Mexican lasagna. (A change of pace after burritos during the ride.)
City, State: Massillon, Ohio
Work Experience: After getting my degree in Accounting and a minor in Computer Science, I worked at implementing computer systems in banks when computers were first getting small enough for a wider installation base. After the banking scandals of the early 1980s, I started my own computer timesharing and service company servicing larger medical clinics. That was good for about another eight years when the Clinton threat of nationalized medicine and the growing dominance of PC's closed the future of that path. I then became part owner of the 'Donut Shoppe' with three retail locations and a wholesale distribution network. This gave me a couple of years to learn the PC and develop my own commodity market analysis system. So, now for the past eight years I have been providing computer networking consulting, developing custom financial analysis systems and trading commodity futures when I can get away from the other computer work.
Years in RUSA: This is my fourth, although I started riding brevets in 2000, but had not joined RUSA.
Positions I've held in RUSA: This is the first.
Current position: BRM Awards Administrator
What my RUSA job entails: I handle everything having to do with the individual brevet medals, the Super Randonneur medal and the Randonneur 5000 award. For all of the medals, I must determine quantities and order them from the ACP in France. For the brevet medals, I deal with the RBAs to distribute pre-orders of medals and fill post-ride medal orders for their riders who have requested a medal. For the SR and R5000 medals I will be accepting applications from the members, ordering and distributing these medals directly to the members who have qualified.
Why I decided to "step-up" and volunteer in RUSA: Over the previous four years, randonneuring has become a major focal point of my life. In a nutshell, I just wanted to give something back to the organization that has given me so much enjoyment.
How I got started in Randonneuring: After years of running and wearing out my knees and getting bored with it, I fixed up an old Schwinn and started cycling again in the summer of 1999. I "died" on my very first ride of 30 miles. I backed up the miles and began riding every day and slowly increasing the miles. After exactly two months I rode my first century. This was in August of 1999 and I read an article in the paper about a group of guys from the Akron, Ohio, area going to France to ride something called 'Paris-Brest-Paris'. I thought that sounded interesting started researching how to qualify with these events called brevets. The following spring I went to 'Bike Day' in the Ohio state capitol building and met Dave Buzzee. I was sold and the rest, as they say, is history.
Brevet experience & awards: My brevet experience has been relatively short and frustratingly inconsistent. I started the Ohio brevet series in 2000. That year I approached the rides too much from a racer's mentality. I met and rode with Don and Phyllis Hamilton on the 200K where they taught me a lot about the randonneuring world. The 300K I took off finishing first. For the 400K I decided to back off and stick with the Hamiltons as this ride was going to be longer than anything I had ever ridden. It was also one of the most memorable. For the 600K, the Hamiltons decided not to ride and I took off racing again. Fifty miles into the ride, I went wide around a sharp downhill turn and went over about a 25-foot cliff. The helmet and camelback saved my life. Nothing was broken, but everything inside and out was either sprained, strained or bruised, and I mean everything. That was the end of riding in 2000 and it also prevented me from doing any brevets in 2001.
The 2002 season started out slowly and still painfully but got better as the season progressed. I completed the Ohio brevet series qualifying for the SR medal. I also did my first 1000K and BMB. That also qualified me for a RUSA 2000K medal. And 2003 was finally a PBP year. The Ohio brevet series had the 600K scheduled for the last week before the qualifying cutoff. I was concerned that some mechanical failure could prevent my finishing the 600K and consequently knock me out of PBP. So, I came up with a plan for three different brevet series so that I would be assured of qualifying for PBP with one of them. I completed the Florida series early in the year with an additional 200K and 300K along with a 1000K. Some of my fellow Ohio riders were going to ride the Kentucky series for hill training, so I decided I need to also in order to keep up with them. I missed the KY 600K to participate in the DC fleche. The end of May made me glad that I had made redundant plans. An oncoming car made a left turn in front of me while I was commuting between two clients. After standing the bike up on the front tire, I catapulted over and landed on my head and knees. I had one week off and then completed the Ohio 400K and 600K. I was still hurting and had to stop several times to ice down my knees. One last 600K in NJ and I wrapped up 3 series, and then of course, PBP. These rides qualified me for the RUSA 5000K and 1000K awards. I will apply for the R5000 this year based on rides only in 2003.
2004, unfortunately will not see me on any brevets. I will have had surgery on April 7 for a torn rotator cuff that I got from that car collision last May.
Most memorable ride and why: The Ohio 600K in 2002. Although PBP is in a class by itself, that 600K was more of an accomplishment to me. I was one of only six finishers out of 20 some that completed a very hot and extremely hilly brevet. It also meant that I finally finished my first series after trying for 3 years.
Biggest "rookie" mistake: It is hard to pick one out of so many. My worst was probably not taking any of my own food from home for the first 144 miles of PBP. I picked up some, what I thought were, energy bars in France. I don't know what they were, but I bonked badly before getting to the first food stop.
Other cycling activities: Member of Stark County Bicycle Club, Akron Bicycle Club and UMCA. I also use my bike as my primary transportation vehicle on a daily basis.
Brevet bike(s): I rode a Bianchi Pista 48/16 fixed gear / single gear bike on all of the Florida brevets last year. I got my dream bike last year for PBP: TitanFlex beam bike with Campy Record 10 Triple, Mavic Open Pro wheels and a Schmidt Dynamo front hub generator lighting system.
Favorite post-ride meal: Anything I can get my hands on.