Pacific Populaire


Pacific Populaire - A Brief History


Randonneur Cycling began in BC when the four founding members - Gerry, John, Dan, and Wayne - qualified for and then completed Paris Brest Paris in 1979. By the mid 1980s the growing group of Lower Mainland randonneurs was looking for a way to introduce new people to the sport. "Populaires" are short, unofficial randonneur events with some of the flavour of official "brevets" or "randonnees" (200 km+). These fun rides had been used elsewhere to introduce people to randonneur cycling. Sometimes populaires are also thought of stepping-stones to 200 km brevets. According to Dan McGuire: "My recollection is that Randy Clelland organized [the 1986 populaire] as a warm-up for the 200 and Marty Wanless promoted it to gain membership, and it went on from there."

No records or pictures remain from the early years, but we do know that the first event started at Vancouver City Hall and followed a 100 km route put together by Randy Clelland, and that this route is similar to the 100 km route used until 2003 when the SE Marine, Queensborough Bridge section was replaced.

By far the biggest year for rider participation was in 1990 - over 700 finishers. The new interest has been attributed to the enthusiasm of the randonneur committee of the day, to the efforts by Dave Johnson and the marketing skills of Marty Wanless, organizer/co-organizer 1988 - 1990. 1990 was the year when the event was first called the Pacific Populaire.

1991 was the centennial year for randonneur cycling's central event Paris Brest Paris and participation in the sport peaked for this event. Following PBP 1991 there was a collapse of interest in randonneur cycling in BC (brevet participation halved in 1992.) Interest in the Pacific Populaire declined more gradually. In 1995 the start/finish was moved to the Plaza of Nations to tie in with the 'outdoor summer sports show', and the event almost disappeared - nobody rode the 25 km route, only 2 riders did the 50 km route, and fewer than 100 rode the 100 km route.

1996 I took over as ride organizer to begin the rebuilding process, which started with moving the start back to Riley Park. I ran the event for the five years before Danelle Laidlaw took over in 2001. She and her team of dedicated volunteers have run the event ever since.

Eric Fergusson

Vital Statistics Table

Finisher Pins

Past Ride Organizers & Committies