Cowichan Populaire 2017 Organizer’s Report
50 - 100 - 161 km, Ride Date: June 3, 2017
by Dave Macmurchie
“When will this end?” That seems to be a question randonneurs ask themselves from time to time, and it did occur to me when it came to the growth curve for this populaire. Over the previous four years, participation has quite literally grown exponentially and I had some concern that we could be overwhelmed this time, but we may have reached a comfortable plateau. This year’s event brought out a total of 86 riders, actually down slightly from last year, but a very satisfactory turn-out. Once again the 100 km route was the most popular with half the riders, and the 50 and 161 km routes splitting the rest.
The peloton was blessed with perfect cycling weather, partly cloudy with moderate temperatures, so there were no reports of heat issues and generally smiles all round. As everyone knows, we had a miserable winter and it took its toll on the Cowichan Valley roads, leaving a bumper crop of potholes. The municipal road contractors did get many of them filled in before the ride, but there were enough left to demand alertness to avoid a trip to the wheel-builders or the ER. The repair process left a large amount of loose gravel on the shoulders in various places, creating tricky riding especially when vehicle traffic was busy, but everyone seemed to handle the conditions well.
The long winter had a particularly unfortunate effect on one notable Cowichan Populaire tradition, the fresh strawberry refreshments at the Russell Farms control. The fruit just isn’t ready yet, so we had to make do. But don’t despair, we’ll give it another try next year and hope that Mother Nature will be kinder to us. At least it didn’t snow, and we’ve had some positive reviews from several folks who haven’t previously tried rando events, so hopefully some of those new faces will become more familiar in future.
Once again we enjoyed support from the local cycle shops and were able to add an item or two of cycling gear for three lucky draw winners. Congratulations to Ray Powell, 50 km (Cowichan Cycles gift), Sarah Gallazin, 100 km (Experience Cycling gift) and Derek Jonson, 161 km (Cycle Therapy gift). Thanks also to Dana at Peaks Coffee for keeping us, especially the volunteers, suitably alert throughout the day – if we missed anything, it wasn’t for lack of caffeine!
This year we arranged with our start/finish facility, The Hub at Cowichan Station, to open their kitchen so that riders could purchase sandwiches or soup; thanks to the staff there for making the day go smoothly. We had to guess what might be popular and it will help us with decisions for next year’s events if riders care to give us feedback on your experience with those options, and, for that matter, any other aspect of the ride.
And just like last year, nothing would have happened without the great work of our fantastic volunteers – many thanks to:
Russell Farms control:
Stephanie St Denis
Lake Cowichan control:
Stephen “what a way to start my retirement” Hinde
West Shawnigan Lake control: