Dawn of a New Half Century

Written by Patrick Stelte - March 2019

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I have written past columns about February being the worst month of the year for me and 2019 was no exception. I have joked on Facebook that February should be re-named ‘Austero” or Latin for “Bleak.” The grind of winter weather and lack of sun coupled with sickness all around puts me in mental hibernation. I try to find tidbits, granular nuggets of hope to keep the faint beam of spring’s renewal on my horizon. Normally, I combat February with a few days of outdoor riding, but our wacky winter so far has restricted my expeditions to a trifle couple of days that haven’t come close to years past. So, to counter-act my seasonal affective melancholy, I took the blue pill and joined Zwift to stanch the barren abyss of in-door training. My new online world has pulled me back from the edge and given me an agency of optimism that better days are coming. For now, riding with the bounty of virtual cycling aficionados will do.

On January 18th, we closed the books on 50 years of Three Rivers Velo Sport with our annual party. The date was unusual compared to years past tradition of the first Friday in December because our venue, Sweetwater Sound, no longer offers outside organizations to use their conference room in December. However, the attendance was still over 100 club members and family and (from what I gathered) all had a good time. Andrew Gritzmaker, our keynote speaker, mesmerized the audience with his story of competing solo in Race Across America. As usual, a plethora of awards were handed out for the September Touring Challenge and a variety of other riding disciplines. The night closed with special achievement awards that honored exceptional activism among our membership. Our 2018 Volunteer Spirit Award was given to Chuck South, a decade’s long member who has bridged the past with the present with his selflessness. For new members unfamiliar with Chuck, he was a touchstone for many in the club beginning in the 1970s. Chuck was always there to help with touring and racing, dedicating countless hours to his passion for cycling. I first heard of him back in the 80s through an acquaintance’s tales of Chuck making steel frame bikes for friends.

We also added to our distinguished management legacy. Chuck Bash, long-time club member, club officer, ride organizer and legal writer of the club’s incorporation, trademark and contributor to our constitution was honored with the 2018 Outstanding Leadership Award. Chuck was a bridge of recognition from our past with a second legacy award of the evening: Steve Pequignot for 2019 Outstanding Leadership Award. Most of you know Steve as our touring director for the last ten years. He stepped down at the end of 2018 and his dedication to the club merited immediate recognition. His tireless dedication to expanding the touring schedule, promoting cycling and the club, as well as administration of club official business will be missed greatly. Steve is still planning on riding with the club and I am sure, giving help and suggestions to those that inquire.

As eluded to with Steve’s retirement, the reins of touring director have been passed to Doug Wintin, a long-time club member. Some of you may know Doug from his help the last couple of years organizing Jamin’ in Roanoke. He has a long history of cycling and racing. I have ridden with Doug many times and I can truly say that if Doug is on a ride, I have a friend in the group. Although he has big shoes to fill, he will give his best to our upcoming touring season. Also in 2019, we have a new club Secretary as Jennifer Altherr has stepped in for Johnny Grabowski. Jennifer is known for co-leading the City Tour, Destination Tours and leading the 50th Anniversary Jersey committee. She is a dedicated off-road rider and urban explorer and her passion for the club will be felt each month at our club meetings. When you see Doug and Jennifer this year, take a moment to thank them for their dedication and volunteerism. Without such members, there wouldn’t be a club.