Randonneurs are a dedicated type of cyclist, conquering the world in rides up to 2,000 kilometres at a time.
Those “brevets,” as they’re known, see randonneurs brave weather and a lack of sleep to complete the mission in one long ride.
It’s with that spirit, but with a much easier pace and much shorter distance, that the Island Randonneurs cycling club created the Victoria Populaire 16 years ago.
This year’s event is Saturday and offers two distances, 50 km and 100 km. It starts at the James Bay Athletic Association parking lot (205 Simcoe St.)
“The VicPop is a springtime tradition for local cyclists – last year we had 120 finishers,” said organizer Steve Mahovlic of Saanich.
The barriers to entry are minimal and the ability level is not of concern. It’s about doing it, not winning it.
“Both routes are extremely scenic,” Mahovlic said. “We try to incorporate quieter roads while still showcasing some of the loveliest places to cycle in Greater Victoria.”
Both Victoria Populaire routes follow the waterfront from James Bay to Royal Oak. From there, the 100km riders head north into the Saanich Peninsula as far as Lands End Road while the 50km 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 through Esquimalt and back to James Bay.
“The VicPop is for everyone,” Mahovlic said. “We consistently have cyclists with a range of ages, abilities, and bikes participate. Last year, a dad and his two kids did the 50km ride on their custom-designed triple-cycle.”
Roads are not closed for the Victoria Populaire and 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.
Event day registration on Saturday starts at 7 a.m. for the 100 km and at 9 a.m. for the 50 km.
Visit randonneurs.bc.ca/victoria-populaire.html for more information.