By Jennifer Wise
I'll never forget, in 1997, receiving word that a rider had dropped from BMB due to knee problems and needed a ride in to the finish. When I got to Brattleboro, I picked him up and we chatted easily, getting to know each other. It felt like I had known him all my life. He was articulate, good-natured, friendly, funny and knowledgeable of all things cycling. He was very comfortable to be with. We shared a passion for randonneuring and especially the PBP experience. We were both frustrated by the existing American randonneuring sanctioning organization. We discovered we had both been bike-shop owners and didn't really care for retail. While Bill was profoundly disappointed at having to drop out of BMB, we both realized that it allowed us the opportunity to meet each other and spend that valuable time together. At the BMB start/finish he hopped out of the car on stiffened knees and thanked me for the ride. I said, "I'm glad I got to meet you, Bill Bryant." In hindsight, it was divine intervention. Because, a year later to the day, Bill Bryant was the Davis Bike Club representative at a pivotal randonneur meeting after BMB, at which he became one of the founding fathers of Randonneurs USA, and transformed randonneuring in America forever.
From that day forward, Bill has been a rock solid in his work for RUSA. He has invested heavily in establishing Randonneurs USA as a strong, member-supported randonneur organization. Learning from the mistakes of its predecessor, RUSA distributed the administrative responsibilities to a handful of hard-working individuals who have delivered the goods. Bill provides sound reasoning, good perspective and a deep-rooted belief in having a first-class organization. He has the wisdom and experience necessary to achieve this goal. He is the RUSA resident historian and he has drawn from his 1983 PBP experience and his knowledge of the history of French-based cycle-touring to lay down the ground rules for riders in America. He has set RUSA in the right direction from the start. He has written more articles for the RUSA newsletter and the RUSA website, than any other author.
Bill, lucky member number 007, took on the task of Membership Committee in 1998 and was immediately buried under hundreds of member application forms. Along with his wife Lois, Bill ran the RUSA membership office until 2001.
In 2002 Bill was elected Vice President of RUSA, and subsequently served as President of RUSA in 2004 and 2005. Bill has been at the helm of RUSA during an explosive growth period when our membership numbers have gone from 11 to 3967 and the number of brevet regions has doubled. Just screening new RBAs, introducing new brevet series and other events, has become a time-consuming and exhausting task.
Membership participation numbers have gone through the roof, as long-distance touring cyclists awaken to the concept of randonneuring. Inevitably each new member has an inquiry, or two, and Bill has been on the receiving end of early-morning email questions and late-night phone calls for years.
Somehow, between 1999 and today Bill has ridden over 7,626 kilometers of brevets, randonnées, Flèches and permanents. Bill completed his first Paris-Brest-Paris 1200k in 1983, and finished PBP 1999 on a tandem with wife Lois as stoker. He volunteered at the Davis Bike Club Gold Rush Randonnée in 2001 and again in 2005 and has been known to pop up at various Northern California brevets to lend a hand.
No other RUSA member has served on the RUSA board for as long as Bill Bryant. On December 31 2006, his elected term ended, and he stepped down from the board after eight years of unwavering dedication. While no longer on the board, Bill remains a busy RUSA volunteer, serving on the Rules Committee, The Awards Committee, The Flèches USA Committee, the Newsletter Editorial Committee, Team Randonnée Coordinator, and is a Permanent Route Owner. He also helps with the Santa Cruz Brevets, while Lois serves as RBA for the region.
In 2007, we hope RUSA members will give Bill some time to ride with Lois, and the Girlenes, in preparation for the brevets and PBP in August. He is in his element surrounded by fellow riders and enjoys being immersed in the randonneur experience. RUSA has been fortunate to have him on our team. He's reliable, respectful and trustworthy. He delivers what he promises. He is, as we say, here in New England, "finestkind."
In recognition of his remarkable work for randonneurs, randonneuring and for this organization, the RUSA members and Board of Directors take pleasure in awarding Bill Bryant the American Randonneur Award 2006.
Next time you see Bill at a brevet or at PBP, be sure to thank him for his years of diligent, determined and devoted service to all the randonneurs in this country.