A letter to the current and future members of Down East Cyclists:

Greetings to cyclists of all types in the greater Onslow County area!  As you may have noticed via recent events, DEC is undergoing some changes.  The most significant being the resignation of our long time president, Jeff LeBlanc.

Jeff has been a fixture in the local cycling community for longer than many of us can remember.  His efforts have kept this club alive, and whether you have been privy to his behind the scenes actions or not, his work on behalf of the club is the epitome of what this club’s community involvement should be.  Jeff isn’t gone from the club, but in his own words, he “just wants to ride his bike,” and nobody can blame him for that!  Thank you, Jeff, for all your work and we know we’ll still see you out there!

Moving forward, there are some big changes being planned.  Firstly, we have some new individuals filling club officer billets in the interim until December when we hope that more people will take part in the annual election process.  Here’s who the new officers are:

President:  Jerry Collins

Vice-President:  Pete McKinney

Secretary:  Bruce Lockhart

Treasurer:  Van Carter

Now it’s time to make some requests of our members.  Like any volunteer organization, you get out of it what you put into it.  Here’s what we are going to ask of you:

Membership Dues

Unfortunately, the club can’t operate off of chain lube and worn rubber.  That means that we need your financial support.  Whether or not we continue to use our current platform on Meetup.com is yet to be determined.  Sure, it’s a convenient platform for posting all of our club events, but it’s also costly.  In the efforts of full transparency, we currently have over 800 individuals who follow our Meetup page; of those, only 12 have paid the “optional” membership fees.  Right now, this platform is not even paying for itself.

Membership dues are going to increase.  Currently, they are $15/year for a family.  That is not enough to continue to sustain club operations (insurance, event costs, etc.); especially considering the few members we have that are dues paying.  Right now, it looks as though that number is right around 20 people, and that’s just not enough to keep us going.  We are digging right now to find a more convenient way for you to pay your dues, and that will be launched shortly.  When it does, yearly fees will rise to $30/yr for a family, or $20/yr for individuals.  We don’t believe that’s too much to ask, that’s only 5-6 cups of fancy coffee per year.  Currently we allow exemptions for some members based off of their status or support for the club. Effective immediately, we will no longer do so.  While we appreciate the hard work and exemplary efforts you have put towards the club and will be recognized, everyone from the club president on down will be paying dues.

In return for your support, the club leadership promises to do our best to provide you with a worthwhile club experience.  We’ll work to get more sponsors in the community, organize social events on a regular basis, and provide you with the best benefits we can negotiate at relevant local businesses.

Those funds will also support future events, such as supported road rides (think centuries, fondos, etc.), trail maintenance costs, social events (barbeques, parties), as well as just paying the bills to keep the club safely operating.

We want you to have a say in where the money goes, but first we need your support.

Meetings and Events

It’s important that we get together, as a club, and discuss where we are, and where we want to be on a fairly regular basis.  In fact, smooth operations and cohesiveness demand it.  We will start holding regular meetings for active club members, likely on a monthly basis.  While it’s nice to be able say that we will just discuss it on the next ride, the truth is that sometimes we just need to get down to business.  The leadership will use all available means to ensure that members are aware of dates and locations; we just ask that you show up and participate.  The current plan is to decide on a required number of meetings and events per year that will be required for members to attend in order to remain in good, active standing, regardless of dues status.  We understand, nobody’s life revolves around this club, nor do we expect it to, but it is important for us to hear your thoughts on the direction of the club, and it’s important your voice be heard.

As for events, we are different than other clubs in the aspect that we have a wide variety of cycling disciplines our members participate in.  We are not just a road club, or trail club.  We want to have trail events, road events, casual events, and anything else you can think up that will be beneficial to the club and the community.  This means there will need to be some reciprocity of support for events.  If we hold a trail race on a local trail, we are going to need road riders to support the organization and execution of the event.  If we hold a road race or supported long ride, we’ll need our trail junkies to do the same.

As a club, and as advocates for the local cycling community, we need to be fully inclusive.  It matters not if you are a road rider, a trail rider, a beach cruiser, or just a fitness cycling enthusiast; we have a place for you here.  Our events, rides, and social gatherings should reflect that.  We want your whole family to be involved, from your little tikes on training wheels, to the seasoned racer.  Our plan in the future is to do events that cater to everyone.

Ownership

This is your club.  Our whole is only as great as the sum of our parts.  We can’t do anything without an active membership base.  Do you have ideas for new events?  Tell us!  Want to set up one of your own for the club?  Even better!  We need participants in the club who are willing to do a little extra leg-work in their free time to take us from being a group of folks who ride together on occasion, to a group of like-minded individuals who are involved advocates for our local cycling community.  We want to have more group rides, more social events, club meetings, and races, but we need your helpWe can’t do this without you. 

Pride

You should be proud to represent your club within the local community.  If you are not, then as a club we need to take a hard look at our direction and figure out what’s going wrong.  We want you to show your pride of the club, so we are currently working on revamping the “face” of the club with some new, modern logo design that will look clean and professional.  Along with that, we will design new kits, t-shirts, and logo wear that we hope to have available soon.  We want you to want to wear this apparel, and be proud of it.  You aren’t just club members, but you are ambassadors and advocates for the local cycling community, show your pride and spread the word!

Final Words

There are also plans to create a few more key volunteer billets within the club that won’t necessarily be “officers,” but will be important nonetheless.  We are going to have a Media Director to run our website and social media accounts.  We are going to name some new ride organizers, and have new event organizers.  Keep an eye on our social media outlets, because we will be asking for volunteers soon!

Speaking of social media, give us a follow!  Soon we will have a new website launched.  We have a Facebook account (@downeastcyclists) that is becoming more active day by day.  The club’s Instagram account (@downeastcyclists) is also up and running.  Tag us on those platforms with your rides and races, start conversations, and most importantly, share your story!  We want to see what our members are doing!  Are you on Strava?  Join our Strava club so we can see where you are riding, and encourage others to do the same!  Use the hashtag #ridedowneast on your social media posts so everyone can follow along!

There are many changes on the horizon, and we all know change is never easy, nor is it fast.  This will all be a process, but it’s one that starts with you, the individual club member.  We are going to re-launch this club to make it bigger and better than ever before, but we need your commitment, your ideas, and your volunteerism.  We want this to be a club run by its members that provides for its members.  Most importantly, we need your support!

 

Pete McKinney

Vice-President

Down East Cyclists

#ridedowneast