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Launch your New Year with
VICTORIA, B.C. -- Imagine waking up on a crisp, cool New Year's morning, donning your winter cycling wear (hopefully some extra thick socks were under the tree) and riding to Oak Bay Beach Hotel for your first 100- kilometre ride of the year. Maybe you've always wanted to tackle 100 kilometres in a day, know you can do it, have even been training, but, for whatever reason, have yet to do it. Maybe you've ridden 100 kilometres in a day before, but it has been a while, or you are interested in training for longer rides. Well, the B.C. Randonneurs club is hosting the 2nd annual New Year's Day Populaire. This 100- kilometre ride will start at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day and take cyclists on a scenic ocean-side ride along Beach Drive out to Cadboro Bay, passing Mt. Doug Park and onto Lochside Drive. From there cyclists will ride out past MacDonald Park to Land's End Road, cross the Pat Bay Highway and take West Saanich Rd to Wallace Driver, Interurban Road to West and East Burnside Road and continue downtown to ride around the Inner Harbour and finish at Christie's Carriage House for warming drinks and food. This event is not about time, it's not a race. "The main goal of all Randonneur events is to finish the 100, 200, 400 kilometre ride, usually within a limited time," said Mike Poplawski, Victoria Populaire organizer. Populaires, however, are free from time constraints so you can race it in four hours, or take your time and finish in the evening of the first day of the New Year.
Populaires are social rides intended to introduce the public to Randonneuring and get a few people hooked on achieving 1200 kilometres in one event. For 2003 it will also be a way to get an early start in training for the 2003 Paris-Brest-Paris event on Aug. 18. In order to participate in the Paris-Brest-Paris event riders have to complete a 200-kilometre, 300-kilometre, 400-kilometre and 600-kilometre ride in the same year. Anyone interested in going to Paris and riding the 1,200-kilometre loop to the town of Brest on the Atlantic and back to Paris will have to complete the total of 1,500 kilometres before June. This sounds like a lot of cycling, but Poplawski emphasizes that Randonneuring is a non-competitive way to challenge yourself. "It is a really good way to achieve a high level of fitness without competition. People are surprised by what they can do," said Poplawski who remembers his first 100-kilometre as a huge accomplishment, and has since ridden up to 1,000 kilometres in a single event. The biggest challenges, especially for the New Year's Day ride, are keeping warm, staying sufficiently fuelled and doing roadside repairs with frozen hands. As with all randonneur events, riders are responsible for their own repairs, finding their way (though a route map is provided), and carrying food and water. "You can stop anywhere along the way to get water, rest and buy food," said Poplawski. It's important, however, to keep in mind that most businesses will be closed for the Jan. 1 holiday. Though the New Year's ride is not an official randonneur event all participants receive a pin for completing the 100 kilometres. The ride can also be used as credit for the Rando 500 or Rando 1000 (for the Rando 500 riders have to participate in a minimum of four events that add up to 500 kilometres). Poplawski is expecting a lot of members from off Island to come and participate, he already has a Randonneur from Washington signed on. "There were 18 riders last year, eight came from off island. This year there has been a lot of talk and enthusiasm about it," he said, emphasizing that it's an unusual ride, three months before Randonneuring events start and the only New Year's ride in B.C.
Registration for the 2003 New Year's Populaire starts at 9 a.m. in the Oak Room in the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, and costs $15. You don't have to be a Randonneur member to join but you do have to come with a bicycle (anything from mountain to tandem) warm clothing, food, water and lots of energy. Contact Mike Poplawski at 250-882-1239 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning to join or if you are interested in helping out.