President's Page - November 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

President’s Page

I hope that this finds you all enjoying the pleasures of your wheeled, human powered conveyances regardless of the number of wheels; regardless whether you are leaning forward, sitting upright, or sitting back; regardless of whether you are wearing spandex or a tee shirt and jeans.

The Annual Meeting is scheduled for 18 November at 5 PM at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 6301 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817. Please bring a favorite savory or sweet dish to share with your club mates and enjoy a chance to socialize off the bike with fellow Club members without the occasional interruption of “Car Back!” The business meeting is required by the Club ByLaws. All Club Executive Committee (ExCom) positions have a term of two years. This year we will be voting on four positions and giving the Membership an update on Club finances and activities. This year's guest speaker is Christina Dorrer, local USA Cycling coach and Team USA silver medal world champion.

A look at the slate will reveal some familiar names. I am running for President again and Deb Reynolds has agreed to run for another term. We both feel that we have unfinished business and that we are in the best position to set the Club on the course it needs. Warren Farb has agreed to serve another term as Treasurer. I am grateful to both for their willingness to continue to serve. The ByLaws of the Club allow write-in votes but do not allow for nominations from the floor for those positions that have nominees. There is one position for which we do not have a nominee. That is for an At-Large position, which would also be designated as Vice President Century. Sallie Williams did yeoman work this last year in organizing and documenting the Century procedures for those who will succeed her. To fill her position, we invite nominations from the floor.

The big discussion during the business meeting portion of the evening will be a discussion on the challenges currently facing the Club. Like many bike clubs, PPTC depends on a century and special events to subsidize Club operations and to keep dues low. The Club opens its rides to both members and non-members, encouraging membership with discounts for the century and special events.

This model depends on the dedicated efforts of volunteers in a variety of capacities. Because the number of active volunteers has declined in recent years, this model has been under stress and may no longer be sustainable.

We have taken actions in recent years to reduce expenses (such as eliminating the costs associated with printing and mailing the Pedal Patter) and have made investments to improve the member experience (such as an updated website). We have made significant efforts to improve membership renewals and to recognize and celebrate our volunteers. As a result, we have overcome an operating deficit and the unexpected cancellation of the Century this year. Nonetheless, without improved volunteer recruitment, we may have no choice but to take further measures.

Without the three incumbents who volunteered, there would be no slate as no one has stepped forward to volunteer. The lack of volunteers is not limited to serving on the ExCom. Despite a full court press and a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator in Paul Huey-Burns, volunteers to help with the Century are less than half what they were two years ago. Lacking volunteers for the various century committees puts additional pressure on the Vice President Century and previously on the Century Chair.

Below are some ideas to get the conversation going at the business portion of the meeting:

  • Doubling or tripling dues
  • Dues being inversely proportional to volunteer effort
  • Cancelling future centuries
  • Cancelling future special events
  • Requiring a certain amount of volunteer time from every member
  • Expanding the paid help at the Backroads Century
  • Restricting the ride schedule to Club members
  • Other

After an open discussion from the floor, the club will gather the input put this together with other questions and survey the membership.  A final discussion will be had based upon the survey results.

Last year the Membership voted on some changes to the ByLaws. One of the unanticipated consequences of the way we did the rewrite is that the number of ExCom members decreased from nine to seven. We believe that a larger leadership group is needed in our current situation and that Club members should have the ability to vote on these additional slots. The ExCom will put forward the necessary changes either at the Volunteer Dinner in January or later should we decide that additional changes needed to change the Club model require a change to the ByLaws.

Hope to see you at the Annual Meeting. Thank you and keep the rubber side down.

Bob B.

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