Posted by Editoress on 03/24/15
On Easter Sunday, hundreds of local cyclists will have to find their "Easter legs" to complete the Victoria Populaire. Organized by the BC Randonneurs Cycling Club, the "VicPop" is an annual mass-participation bike ride around Greater Victoria with 50-kilometre and 100-kilometre options.
"For many Vancouver Island cyclists, the VicPop is a springtime tradition," says organizer Steve Mahovlic. "Last year, we had 104 finishers; this year, we are hoping for three times that. It's a great excuse to get your bike out of the garage if you haven't been riding all winter."
Starting and finishing at the Velox Rugby clubhouse on Gordon Head Road, riders following the 50-kilometre route will do a loop incorporating Mount Doug Park, Esquimalt, and the scenic Dallas Road/Beach Drive waterfront while riders doing the 100-kilometre version will expand that loop by first heading out to Sidney and then turning around once they reach the Deep Cove Market in North Saanich.
"Both rides are extremely scenic," says Mahovlic. "I rejigged our traditional routes to incorporate some quieter roads while still showcasing some of the most lovely places to cycle in Greater Victoria."
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's VanIsle 1200 (also organized by the BC Randonneurs) saw more than 50 cyclists ride 1,200 kilometres in under 90 hours exclusively on Vancouver Island roads.
"While the VanIsle 1200 was an event for very experienced randonneurs, the VicPop is for everyone," stresses Mahovlic. "We expect cyclists with a range of ages, abilities, and bikes to participate. Last year, a dad and his three kids did the 50 km ride on their custom-designed quad-cycle!"
Cyclists participating in the Victoria Populaire on April 5th will be issued turn-by-turn directions for their ride and a control card listing the "checkpoints" where they need to stop and have their cards stamped and signed by a ride official. At the end of the ride, riders will turn in their control cards in exchange for a unique VicPop finisher's pin, another randonneurs' tradition.
Advance registration for the ride costs just $15, 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. Online registration closes at 5pm on Thursday, April 2nd. Event-day registration on April 5th is between 8:30-9:30 am for the 100k, and 10:00-11:00 am for 50k riders. Participation is capped at 300 cyclists.
Victoria Populaire finishers or cyclists looking for more of a Gran Fondo–distance event are encouraged to try the BC Randonneurs' "Tour of the Cowichan Valley" 200 km brevet starting in Chemainus on April 11th.
For more information about the Victoria Populaire or to register for the ride, please visit the Victoria Populaire website.
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