By Mark Thomas
The first half of 2006 witnessed the continuing strength and growth of randonneuring in the US. Our Regional Brevet Administrators and their network of volunteer helpers have brought us over 200 events by the end of June. RUSA's Brevet Coordinator has processed over 4000 results for finishers of these brevets, fleches, and populaires. This represents a significant increase over the same period in 2005. Thanks to all riders and volunteers who make this possible.
Not too many years ago, there were few opportunities to participate in brevets or other randonneuring events in the US during the second half of the year. In 2000, there were only 15 events held after the end of June. Once the traditional brevet series of 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km was finished, a few hardy riders would turn their attention to a 1200km event such as Boston-Montreal-Boston. Most randonneurs, however, would turn their attention to other cycling or non-cycling pursuits.
We now have a wealth of opportunities to participate in randonneur events in the second half of the year. Over 100 events are on the calendar already from July 1 to December 31. Go to "Search for . . . Rides" on the Randonneur USA website to see the available rides. In addition to these events, we now have almost 150 Permanents that can be scheduled at the rider and permanent owner's convenience. Many riders have used RUSA's R-12 Award as motivation for year-round participation in randonneuring. This recognition goes to riders who complete a 200km or longer event in 12 consecutive months.
In addition to the chance for existing randonneurs to continue riding through the year, the late season events can offer a terrific introduction to the sport for new riders. In Seattle, we found that the later events attracted many riders who may not have considered themselves prepared for long distances early in the spring. Lots of our new members have come from these late season "converts."
Of course, the calendar does feature 1200km brevets as well. The furnace-like Cascade 1200 is already in the books, but the summer and fall also offer 1200km events in New England, Colorado, and the Southeast. Thoughts turn too to next year's Paris-Brest-Paris. Bill Bryant's article in this issue gives a great preview of the ride and of the preparations that can ensure success in that event. I hope to see many of you there in 2007.