American Randonneur caught up with Arizona RBA Susan Plonsky, for an update on randonneuring in the Grand Canyon State.

I think all RBAs wonder how much support to give while at the same time helping riders to be self-reliant. I work several checkpoints on brevet day and drive the support truck. I don't want to make it easy to quit; I just want to provide a safety net to encourage riders to find their limits. Support is traditionally a person at a checkpoint. Lately I've been experimenting with other ways to support riders.

Phone support: Riders are given the cell phone number of a volunteer that lives in the area who has agreed to be on call. If a rider needs directions or advice, the volunteer can give aid without having to be on the course. The volunteer may also sag riders if they choose.

Water drops: When services are remote, I’ve left jugs of water by the side of the road, but out of plain sight. The cue sheet describes the location of the water. Sometimes I leave it in the weeds at an intersection or at the base of a sign. Some riders find the water, others don’t. Without meaning to, I’ve created a new survival game. (Perhaps we could make our own reality TV show.)

Once I bought water at a convenience store early in the day and asked the clerk to leave the jugs on porch after the store closed. There was a good chance that some riders would arrive late at night. Once again not all riders found the water because the store was dark and set back from the road. (Unlike other reality shows where contestants spend most of the time sniping at each other, no one would be voted off The Brevet Show.).

Food drops: At the Grand Canyon 600 last year, I even left food at a remote scenic look out. There’s a store there but it’s closed by the time riders come through. There are also bears - that’s why I left the supplies in the restroom. As an added safety measure, the food was packaged in a way that was hard for animals to open (or so I hoped.) Instead of bags of potato chips, I bought the chips that come in the can. I bought cans of ravioli and baked beans with the pop top lid. I was relieved to hear that riders found the food before the animals did. If you have other ideas for support, please email me at

Don't Worry, It's Just Arizona...

• If you hear a boom in the distance, don't worry. It's probably not thunder, just gun fire.

• If you see armed men in green uniforms and speaking Spanish, don't worry. You haven't crossed the border into Mexico; you're at the Border Patrol checkpoint near Tucson.

• If you're taking a nature break and hear chick-uh chick-uh, get on the bike and take off. You won't be high enough to evade a rattlesnake strike, but you may be quick enough.

• If you're can't outrun a dust devil, you won't be transported to Kansas, but it will sand blast the tan off your skin.

• If your bike handling skills are good, you'll be in fine form to play dodge ball with the tumbleweeds.

• If you keep Bag Balm in the car, it'll melt at mid-day temperatures. Putting hot oil on your butt can show how tough you really are.

• Using oven mitts to take your bike off the rack will make you look like a native.