By Lois Springsteen
James Kuehn has worked tirelessly since the beginning of RUSA, establishing a solid foundation for the sport in the mid-Atlantic states, and building a modern nationwide administrative infrastructure. While I don't have personal experience riding Jim's events in Washington, DC when he worked as the local RBA, the feedback from his riders about his routes and event planning was very positive year after year. His local website sections on lighting, equipment and rules were extremely well done, making it a source of excellent information for randonneurs around the world. Under his leadership, the DC-area brevets were some of the best in the nation, and he worked hard to ensure his series was in good hands before he stepped aside for a well-deserved break from the grind of being an RBA.
So much of randonneuring has to do with riding bicycles, but organizing the sport and its participants across our far-flung continent requires effective communication, and the accurate and swift processing of brevet results. I do have first-hand experience working with Jim on the RUSA website as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors and I'm not sure how we can thank him enough for his contribution to the American randonneuring movement. He's always eager to help us improve our electronic processes and maintain our world-class image on the internet. We frequently hear from our colleagues in other countries and they mention how good our website is, and a lot of this is because of Jim's hard work.
When I took over the webmaster job from Johnny Bertrand, Jim stepped forward to take on the brevet results processing task (also from Johnny Bertrand). Jim took the website and the results processing to the next level by writing thousands of lines of code to make our website one of the focal points of our organizational operation. Though Jim is an expert in the computer field, I imagine that this effort took countless hours, of course with no monetary reward. Jim's software allows many of the data processing tasks to run on our website's server, so that we can more effectively distribute the workload among volunteers located across the country. He was also instrumental in helping us move the site to a new hosting service, without interruption in member service, and he works tirelessly to help us solve technical problems and security concerns as they arise.
Jim is eager to respond to any request for data from the RUSA Board and his software has made all of our jobs easier. It's hard to imagine how we'll replace someone of his talent, skill, and generosity if he ever decides to retire. The RUSA website is extremely easy to use, gets many compliments from knowledgeable and new users alike, and has wonderful interactive features that would have cost us thousands of dollars to purchase. Because of Jim's extensive knowledge of our sport, its rules and administrative requirements, the features that he has implemented are more thoughtful and much more useful than anything that we could have purchased from an outside vendor. Results submission from the RBA point of view is a snap, thanks to Jim. As an RBA, I have total confidence in his procedures, software, and documentation. Our members can be assured that all event results are processed accurately and swiftly-something not true in every other country.
Jim frequently anticipates the needs of the RUSA Board of Directors and creates software processes, statistical analysis, and reports-often before we even know we need them! Thanks to Jim, we have statistics on results, membership demographics, ACP points, etc. at our fingertips. I suspect we haven't even fully realized how to use his contribution to its fullest potential.
While I took over brevet results processing from Jim this past year, he busied himself behind the scenes, writing more software to implement a relational database system with a web-based interface to handle the various volunteer tasks that are done across the US. If Jim ever decides to retire from RUSA he'll leave huge shoes to fill, just like his predecessor, American Randonneur Johnny Bertrand. Whenever these "American Randonneurs" retire, it seems we need to find three people to replace them. We had many fine candidates nominated for this year's award and as always it's difficult to narrow the field to one American Randonneur. Nonetheless, it is with the greatest pleasure and gratitude that the RUSA Board of Directors selects James Kuehn as our 2004 American Randonneur.