Posted by Editor on 03/24/16
Looking for a new springtime tradition? If you haven't been riding all winter, the Victoria Populaire offers a great excuse to get your bike out of the garage and onto the road. The BC Randonneurs Cycling Club is inviting cyclists of all ages and abilities to welcome the arrival of warmer weather with a scenic mass-participation bike ride around Greater Victoria on April 2nd.
"The BC Randonneurs have been running the Victoria Populaire for more than 15 years," says organizer Steve Mahovlic. "As a result, the VicPop is a springtime tradition for local cyclists - last year we had 120 finishers."
The ride starts at the James Bay Athletic Association clubhouse (205 Simcoe Street) where participants are issued turn-by-turn directions for either the 50-kilometre or 100-kilometre route and a control card listing the "checkpoints" where they will need to stop along the way and have their cards stamped and signed by a ride official. Upon returning to the JBAA clubhouse, riders turn in their control cards in exchange for a unique Victoria Populaire finisher's pin and then can share stories of their rides over complimentary refreshments.
"Both routes are extremely scenic," says Mahovlic. "We try to incorporate quieter roads while still showcasing some of the loveliest places to cycle in Greater Victoria." He explains that both Victoria Populaire routes follow the waterfront from James Bay to Royal Oak. From there, the 100 km riders head out the Saanich Peninsula as far as Lands End Road while the 50 km riders take a scenic shortcut through Beaver Lake Park to Interurban Road just north of Camosun College. The groups come together for the final 17 km, which takes them through Esquimalt and back to James Bay
First held in 2000, the Victoria Populaire is not a race but rather a fun introduction to the sport of randonneuring, a type of cycling known for its long distances and non-competitive nature. Regularly covering 200 to 1,000 kilometres during organized rides called brevets, randonneurs are to cycling what ultramarathoners are to running. Last summer, a number of BC Randonneurs travelled to France to participate in Paris-Brest-Paris, which saw some 6,000 randonneur cyclists ride 1,200 kilometres in under 90 hours. "While Paris-Brest-Paris is an event for very experienced randonneurs, the VicPop is for everyone," stresses Mahovlic. "We consistently have cyclists with a range of ages, abilities, and bikes participate. Last year, a dad and his two kids did the 50 km ride on their custom-designed triple-cycle!"
No roads are closed for the Victoria Populaire (or any other randonneuring event). Participants must share the road with motorists, watch for pedestrians, and obey all traffic rules. All cyclists must wear approved helmets at all times during the ride and their bikes should be in good working order.
Advance registration for the ride costs just $10, or $20 (cash only) on the day of the event; participants under 16 pay just $5 but must be accompanied by an adult at all times on the ride. Online registration closes at 5pm on Monday, March 28th. Event day registration on April 2nd starts at 7 am for the 100k, and at 9am for 50k riders. Participation is capped at 200 cyclists this year.
For more information about the Victoria Populaire and a link to the online registration site, please visit www.randonneurs.bc.ca/victoria-populaire.html.
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