The Davis Bike Club has a rich history in the sport of randonnuering and was instrumental in the formation of Randonneurs USA (RUSA). Riders affiliated with the DBC headed to France to participate in Paris Brest Paris as early as 1979. This is before RUSA was created (it organized in 1998), there was no organized randonneuring in NorCal. Back then individuals who wanted to qualify for PBP did so by creating their own routes and having someone at a local club act as their “person of record” to verify the ride. Bill Bryant, as a DBC officer, acted in that capacity to support Dennis Hearst, who, later went on to “win” PBP. At that time, all entries and qualifying rides were sent directly to France by mail.
In the early 80’s Steve Rawiszer, the first RBA (Regional Brevet Administrator) in the area, but not affiliated with the DBC, ran brevets in Sacramento as affiliates to International Randonneurs (IR), a Syracuse based rando-league that had been charged by Audax Club Parisian (the organizers of Paris Brest Paris) to manage riders heading to Paris. With help from Larry Robinson, a full series was run until 1985. After that, a number of people picked up the lead and ran series in the Bay Area, all working through IR to get riders ready for Paris Brest Paris.
The DBC’s Gerry Peterson started our brevet series in 1990. With leadership from Dan Shadoan, Gerry, (in the role of RBA) created a brevet series supported by the rest of the club. Club members would volunteer to staff controls and checkpoints, providing food and rest for riders as they came through. Lee Mitchell was on-hand tirelessly driving sag-support for riders. Riders flocked to Davis to partake in these rides.
As PBP is held once every four years, rider participation would peak one year prior and the year of PBP then quiet down for the next 2 years. This cycle is still in effect today as across the nation, data shows a rise in participation the year prior plus a PBP year, and then participation wanes. Following this cycle, the DBC hosted a full brevet series in 1990 and ’91, and then again in 1994 and ’95.
1995’s brevet season finds Davis at the nexus. Riders from all over NorCal come to Davis to complete the series, in part because Davis is supporting the rides with volunteers and a majority of riders prefer to ride in a group than alone. Larry and Dee Burdick open their home to riders: they offer their house as the start/finish spot, a place to sleep and Dee feeds everyone! “The Legend” had ridden PBP successfully in 1987 along with Daryn Dodge, so information was liberally shared about how-to successfully navigate longer distance rides.
The upshot was that Davis sent the most riders (over a 100) to Paris Brest Paris and won a trophy from ACP for doing so. In addition, the DBC was presented a 2nd trophy for bringing the most women to PBP and a third from the Mayor of Paris for bringing visitors to the event. Riders who qualified through the DBC did better than the US average which put yet another feather in the DBC cap.
Daryn Dodge succeeded Gerry Peterson as the second RBA for Davis in 1997. The club continues to offer even better randonneuring events. Daryn strengthened the routes making them hillier as many DBC riders who
participated in Boston Montreal Boston had a much tougher time with the elevation suffering a higher DNF rate. Under Daryn’s leadership, the first fleche is held in NorCal, which is a great event but poorly managed by IR, the national league acting as the US liaison to Audax Club Parisian.
At the national level, a change is brewing, and representatives from across the nation are invited to work on what would become Randonneurs USA, our current national organization. The DBC events were larger than anything else in the US and were often in the top five rando-clubs in worldwide rankings by ACP. Dan Shadoan as President of the DBC funds Bill Bryant to attend the
meeting in Boston, which lead to the birth of RUSA. Behind the scenes, Davis also becomes a “patron club” of RUSA helping to seed its beginnings with DBC funds. Without this support, RUSA would not be where it is today, which is to be the largest randonnuering organization outside of France.
RUSA is founded in 1998 and 1999 is another PBP year. Davis offers a full series of qualifying brevets, which are still run today. From 1999 – 2004 participation in DBC Brevet series continues to be high. However, in 2004, two new clubs are formed, San Fransisco Randonneurs, started by Todd Teachout and Santa Cruz Randonneurs, started by the team of Bill Bryant and Lois Springsteen. Along with the brevet series associated with the Santa Rosa Cycling Club, options abound for randonneurs.
During all of the events and history reported above the last groundbreaking event of the DBC was to create the Gold Rush Randonnee (GRR). PBP was held every four years and Boston Montreal Boston (BMB) was held a few times. Dan’s vision, with support from others decided that it was time for the Western US to have a 1200k. Stronger DBC riders had ridden a 1000k route up from Davis to Oroville to Susanville and then to Adin in 1992. It wasn’t to much extra to extend the ride almost to the OR border and then return to Davis. The Gold Rush has successfully been run every four years, two years after PBP, challenging riders from around the world in northern California.
The DBC has much to celebrate as a club but the leadership of Dan, Gerry, Daryn, and all of the people who helped to lay the foundation of randonneuring in NorCal have had an impact nationwide. The DBC model for a brevet series laid the foundation for other clubs as well as the creation of national grand randonnees. We have much to be thankful for and hopefully, the DBC will continue to be a leader in the randonneuring community.
Davis Bike Club RBA’s:
Gerry Peterson: 1990-1997
Daryn Dodge: 1997-2005
Jim Sharp: 2005-2008
Dan Shadoan: 2008-2017
Deb Banks: 2017-
~ Submitted by Deb Banks with historical input from Bill Bryant and Dan Shadoan.