“Without Jim Pitre getting involved in the sport I can guarantee RAAM would have ended after the 2002 season.” — Lon Haldeman
by Ed Fleming
About the Hall of Fame
Athletic excellence: Pitre and Peter Pop finished two-person RAAM in 2000 and in 2001. Pitre set his own 60+ record at the Furnace Creek 508. He also raced the Cochise County Cycling Classic many times.
Service: Pitre served as RAAM CEO from 2001 through 2006. In addition to his deep pocket support of the race he started the very popular eight-person team division to attract corporate riders.
Leadership: Lon Haldeman nominated Pitre: “In 2001 he attracted major sponsorship for the race that totaled $500,000 during the next five years: He has personally contributed (invested and lost) over $250,000 toward the race to promote RAAM on NBC Television and make sure the race was the best possible. His commitment to personally support RAAM as an event he believed in has been unequalled by any race director or organizer. Without Jim Pitre getting involved in the sport I can guarantee RAAM would have ended after the 2002 season.”
Most important contribution? “The toughest endurance [event] of all was taking on the management and running of RAAM itself. The first couple of years were not too extreme when Lon continued to do the actual race management; however, when it all fell to me, it was a daily part-time, sometimes full-time endeavor. Not much time left to ride, let alone compete. We did bring the race back from potential oblivion with the help of a large number of dedicated people. We did increase ridership greatly, however failed economically. At the same time I feel satisfied that I gave it my best shot. While the race still hasn’t achieved the economic viability I had hoped to bring about, it does appear to be headed in the right direction and given the current team’s dedication, I feel confident a long-term future for RAAM is in place. Bottom line is that the six years of race management is my biggest contribution to the sport.
Two deaths during the race on my watch continue to haunt me to the point of not personally riding on the road since Bob Breedlove was killed. Finally my wife, Kathleen, and I traded our road bikes in on a couple of good mountain bikes, so we are back on two wheels out of the traffic lanes. It feels good.”
Why give back?” In my mind, `sport’ ceases to be a sport when dominated by highly paid athletes virtually to the exclusion of average amateurs thereby turning the fans into sedentary couch potatoes. An activity dominated by highly paid professional athletes may provide entertainment, but to refer to an athletic-oriented business as `sport’ seems to me to lose track of the true meaning. Further a true sport should, in my mind, have application in the elements of daily life. I see cycling (and in particular ultracycling) as an athletic activity that fits my description of `real sport’ well: open to anyone to participate and without the pampered idols of the commercialized version of sports. There are other true sports; however, my choice was/ is cycling and all it has to offer to so many. I have been pleased to do what I can to further an activity that not only can be competitive, but can be a part of daily life as both a recreational activity as well as a means of green, basic transportation. Few `sports’ offer this opportunity. RAAM/WUCA can continue to be a part of carrying the message of the value of cycling to our society.
“Many thanks to the ultracycling community and may we all go forth and multiply.”