An Oak Bay organizer steers the spring cyclist adventure Victoria Populaire this year.
“Last year we had over 200 finishers,” said Roxanne Stedman. “The VicPop is for everyone. … We consistently have cyclists with a range of ages, abilities and bikes participate. Last year, a dad and his two kids did the 50-kilometre ride on their custom-designed triple-cycle.”
The BC Randonneurs Cycling Club has organized the event for more than 15 years, but the Oak Bay cyclist just discovered the sport a couple of years ago.
Stedman came to randonneuring through her involvement with an alpine club, where it turns out many cross train through events such as the Victoria Populaire. For the last two years she’s been randonneuring, first in hopes of qualifying for European events, then just to meet people.
“That’s the coolest thing about randonneuring, you connect with people from all over. Some of the people in the club go to events all over the world because they can,” she said. “It takes a different mindset to do that. But the Victoria Populaire is all about fun.”
The VicPop is geared to be a fun introduction to the sport of randonneuring, a type of cycling known for its long distances and non-competitive nature.
A part of the popularity, and fun, are the scenic 50- and 100-kilometre routes.
“We try to incorporate quieter roads while still showcasing some of the loveliest places to cycle in Greater Victoria,” Stedman said. “I think the routes are sweet and people will like them.”
Riders can expect to discover new areas of Greater Victoria. Both VicPop routes follow the waterfront from James Bay to Royal Oak. From there, the 100 km riders head out the Saanich Peninsula while the 50 km riders take a scenic shortcut along the Royal Oak bike path and Glendale trail to Interurban Road. The groups come together for the final 17 kilometres along the E&N Bike path through Esquimalt and back to James Bay.
“We’ve been riding a long time and didn’t even realize this existed, that existed, you see new things,” Stedman said. “I think people will come out to have fun, to ride new places, but also to challenge themselves.
The ride starts at the James Bay Athletic Association clubhouse, 205 Simcoe St. where participants are issued a route card with turn-by-turn directions.
Route cards include checkpoints where cyclists must stop for a stamp. Upon returning to the JBAA clubhouse, riders turn in their route cards in exchange for a Victoria Populaire finisher’s pin.
“The Victoria Populaire exposes you to randonneuring,” Stedman said. “That’s when I met people, when I started randonneuring.”
Visit randonneurs.bc.ca/victoria-populaire.html to register for the Victoria Populaire on April 2. Registration is $15 ahead of time and $25 on ride day.