By Mark Thomas
Another great American randonneuring year is blooming as this newsletter reaches your mailbox. Like the birds of spring, brevets are leaving their winter homes in the southern states and spreading northward. By the end of April, over 100 brevets and populaires have already emerged from the fullest annual calendar of randonneur events ever offered in the US. And in perhaps the surest sign of spring, teams of randonneurs and randonneuses all over the land have designed their own routes and participated in one of our Flèches USA. As always, the events generate great stories, a few of which grace the pages of this issue.
As he mentioned in the February issue, Bill Bryant has stepped aside as President of Randonneurs USA. It is with a sense of honor and humility that I take on that role this year. I completed my first brevet in 1998, the year that Bill, Jennifer Wise, Johnny Bertrand, John Wagner and others created RUSA and breathed new life into randonneuring in this country. So I have grown up with RUSA and am proud to be associated with the great organization that it has become.
The growth of Randonneurs USA and the success of the sport in the US owe a great debt to range of dedicated volunteers—from the founders of RUSA to the volunteer checking riders in at the end of a brevet so the RBA can ride. In between, we can thank Jim Kuehn and Lois Springsteen for their efforts to streamline results processing, Don and Phyllis Hamilton for processing memberships for our ever growing ranks, Mike Dayton for producing this newsletter, Bill and Lois for producing the outstanding RUSA Handbook and PBP yearbooks, Jennifer Wise for manning the RUSA store, Tim Sullivan for his stewardship of RUSA's finances (see his report in this issue), Robert Fry for conceiving, building and managing our ever-growing Permanents program, Jenn Barber for her work on the national routes database, Don Bennett for maintaining the RUSA website, and the other board members and volunteers who work day in and day out on behalf of us, the riders. I'd like to encourage all members to consider what time and talent they can offer to help RUSA.
All the great volunteers at our national organization would have nothing to do, however, if not for all the work that takes place at the local level to organize events. Led by our 41 dedicated Regional Brevet Administrators, local volunteers schedule events, develop routes, organize brevets, and submit results. You can help. Much more than this goes in to a successful series of events. Our strongest local randonneuring communities are those where many riders (and non-riders) chip in to help. To those helping, a hearty thank you! I witnessed the power of the volunteer force last summer when I joined 80 other riders on the Cascade 1200. The work of over forty volunteers enhanced the experience (and made it possible).
If you are new to it, you may wonder what you can do. In a word: "lots"! You can assist your RBA by running one of the brevets. You can think of ways to publicize your events and reach out to other local cyclists. You can design and order jerseys or other gear that build community. You can maintain a website or mailing list or write articles for a local newsletter. You can man a control after the last convenience store clerk goes home—offering food, drink and encouragement to the riders. You can organize training rides before and during the brevet season. You can ferry bags to an overnight stop on a long brevet. You can join the RBA on a scouting trip or an organizers' pre-ride. Or you can just say thank you to the folks that are doing all these things. You can help—and randonneuring will be that much stronger in the US for all that you do. Thanks.