The days are growing short, the nights long, and the 2004 randonneuring season is almost over. After a few more end-of-season populaires and brevets in southern areas, there will only be some winter permanents ridden by hardy individuals in search of an R-12 award. Things are clearly winding down and yearly kilometer totals are being added up. Now is a good time to look back and take stock before the next randonneuring season begins on New Year's Day.
Overall, it was another very good year of American randonneuring. Congratulations to everyone who finished their brevets, and to those who tried. There was a lot of randonneuring in the USA during 2004. We had over 200 events at 37 sites across the nation. Even though it was a post-PBP year when things normally slow down a fair bit, attendance at many brevets was still quite good and over 165 riders earned Super Randonneur status. We also had 34 successful Flèches-USA teams, our largest-ever turnout. RUSA also sent over 40 Randonneur 5000 medal nominees to Paris, again a new record for the USA. A RUSA permanents program was begun this year and interest in these events is gaining energy. Several new awards were created by RUSA to encourage more rider participation at regional events and there are new-style RUSA distance medals available this season. We are indebted to all our hard-working Regional Brevet Administrators and RUSA Volunteers who helped make it all happen. Though I can't list all your names in this short space, your on-going contributions are remarkable and won't be forgotten anytime soon.
Special thanks go out to retiring RBAs Mike DeLong (Atlanta), Peter Noris (southern Florida), Aaron Rumple (St. Louis) and Russell Hahn (Austin, Texas). On behalf of the RUSA members around the country I offer sincere thanks for your years of selfless effort to organize great randonneuring events. You will be missed, but we wish you continued success enjoying other pursuits with a lot more free time than you had before.
Our new RBAs are David Bundrick (Atlanta), Michael Grussemeyer (southern Florida), John Jost (St. Louis) and Jean Luc Friang (Austin, Texas). We're very happy you stepped up to continue organizing events in your respective regions with retiring RBAs. RUSA is also very happy to announce that three new RBAs and regions were added to the national calendar of events. Susan Plonsky is organizing events in the Phoenix- Tucson region of Arizona, Jim Severance will have brevets in the Teton- Yellowstone region, and Kay Odgen will be offering brevets in the Houston area. Welcome aboard!
The yearly election results are in. Tim Sullivan and John Lee Ellis were returned to office by the RUSA membership to keep working on the Board of Directors. I'm personally very pleased because Tim and John Lee have been working tirelessly for years on the Board. RUSA is blessed to have these individuals working with us but I also want to thank Terry Zmrhal of the Seattle International Randonneurs for running too. Terry is another fine guy who would make an excellent Board member and I hope he will run again. With term limits eventually forcing change among Board members, fresh energy and ideas will keep RUSA strong and I hope other talented members like Terry will consider stepping up in the future.
Our publications efforts had another busy year in 2004. Indefatigable editor Mike Dayton has been working hard on our quarterly newsletter for the past year, and there will be a revised and expanded Handbook sent to new members before the end of 2004. We also got our PBP Yearbook out to members earlier this year and it resulted in quite a few compliments. Thank you to everyone who contributed an article or ride report to any of our publications. On the web site, Donn King, Lois Springsteen and Jim Kuehn have been working hard too and it is better than ever. Sharing information among the randonneurs and randonneuses of our vast nation is one of our primary goals at RUSA and I think we did this well during 2004.
Looking back over the year, our members had many sporting successes. There were also some happy occurrences that took place off the bike too: Board member and RBA Jenn Barber was recently married to long-time sweetheart Bill Stiteler. In July RUSA Permanent Coordinator and RBA Robert Fry and wife Carey added another little randonneur to their family. Congratulations to them all. During 2004 we had some very sad news too. In February we lost Gus Antonini and Bill Cupples on a Florida 300k brevet due to an intoxicated driver. They were the first riders killed during a RUSA brevet and I sincerely hope they will be the last ones ever. In May Sally Johnson passed away after a long illness. Many East Coast randonneurs knew Sally from her years of helping husband Alan Johnson put on brevets in North Carolina. She was a lovely person and her loss is keenly felt. In July Dave Holmes, former Iowa RBA, PBP ancien, and organizer of the popular 24-hour championships in Eldridge for the past 15 years, was killed by an inept truck driver while cycling. We will miss all these fine people and offer sincere condolences to their families. Another page of Le Grand Livre turns, alas, and we are sadder for it. (With our fallen comrades in mind, the RUSA Board of Directors has authorized a donation of $5,000 from club funds to the League of American Bicyclists to lobby on our behalf in order to make roads safer for cyclists.) All these events—both joyous and sorrowful—remind us that through life's ups and downs, "the wheel keeps on turning."
Looking forward to 2005, there are over 220 American randonneuring events of all lengths on tap. Next year's national calendar is on pages 30- 31 so you can start planning. In particular, note that in addition to Boston-Montreal-Boston in August and the Last Chance in September, there will be two more American 1200k events next summer. July sees the return of the quadrennial Gold Rush Randonnée in July, and the Seattle group will be offering a new event in June, the Cascade 1200k. So, if you want to try your hand at an American grand randonnée, 2005 will definitely be your year. Or, if you want to focus on shorter brevets, we have plenty of those at nearly 40 different locations around the nation. All are great rides and have something unique to offer randonneurs in search of adventure. Good wishes to each and every one of our RUSA members. Ride safely and don't forget to welcome the new riders into our ranks. Finally, please remember to renew your membership for 2005 if you haven't already done so.