Victoria Populaire 100K

31 03 2011

Sean ready to ride...

The day of the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire started overcast, blustery and cold. The forecast was for light rain which in Victoria is usually a lie, but the skies looked like they might open up for real. I got up early and rode over to Sean’s place down in Oak Bay. We did some last minute futzing and made our way up to the University of Victoria starting point for the ride. We were early – very early and that meant we were cold – very cold! Next year we’ll roll up about 0945am for the 10am start. The upside of getting there early was meeting some nice folks I chatted with online, but never met in person. That was fun. We also got to check out a whole lot of cool rando rigs. I’ll post a bunch of photos in a separate post.

So far besides being cold and so windy the sign in booth nearly went flying a few times it seemed like the rain might hold off. I was stoked…=-)

Paul showed up for the 50K and it was good to see him again since we hadn’t managed a ride together since last spring.

Photo: Mikael - BC Rando Site...

The start was a bit chaotic so I hung back and just rode steady not making any fast moves. It didn’t take long for the group to get split up by lights and I lost Sean to a group further up the road. After a few tense moments with folks doing silly things I decided it would be safer to be riding on my own so I got ahead of our group just in time to fly through an intersection as the light changed. I was happy to see Paul was with me as well as someone on a Surly LHT. I was happy to be riding by GPS as the first 15km of this 100K had more turns than a 300K ride in Alberta! Things were going pretty well until we hit the ocean. At that point a howling crosswind caused a lot of mayhem.

I lost Paul behind me and could see everyone was struggling to stay together. I was feeling a bit bad that I had lost Sean since I convinced him to come out so we could ride together. It was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to keep going slowly and finish the 100K in a decent time so I hit the gas and pushed on alone. Ultimately I ended up riding just behind Sean the rest of the way to the 50K turn around point and I didn’t see Paul again. Apologies to both of them – the best laid plans don’t work out sometimes!….=-(

Although my GPS was working okay a few wacky directions made me lose 100% confidence in it so I started using both the route sheet and the GPS. When they agreed I was solid and when they didn’t I knew I needed to take a second to make sure I made the right move. After one wrong turn a nice rider stuck with me for a while to make sure I stayed on track…=-)

When I did catch up with Sean he seemed in good spirits, but ready to make the run back to UVic. It’s too bad we didn’t get to ride together, but I can tell his stoke for doing some more road riding this summer is in full effect…sweet…=-) BTW – Sean was the fastest 50K rider at 2:20hrs….nice job.

Cruising up the east coast to Sidney is becoming a familiar experience as it’s a great cycling route. I was following a couple of guys when we hit a dirt MUP and with my 40m tires I just kept rolling while they slowed a bit to accomodate their narrow rubber. I was feeling pretty good as I rolled past the 50K mark nearing Sidney. I decided to stop in town for a cup of hot tea and a muffin as well as use the washroom at a cafe.

You may call me the Plumpkin Randonneur...=-)

My clothing choice for the day was working well:

  • wool 3/4 tights
  • wool leg warmers under tights
  • wool socks
  • wool thermal zip neck
  • medium weight wool jersey
  • fleece gloves
  • ear warmer
  • neck warmer
  • rain jacket [in bar bag]
  • rain gloves, rain chaps and boot covers [in bar bag]

The only issues I had were that the gloves I brought had a lot of holes in them!! and my sunglasses wouldn’t stay in place with the ear warmers on. I’ll use different ones next ride.

After my tea stop I worked my way to the last control before the run home down the west side of the peninsula. I ran into a few familiar faces from earlier in the ride and we all left together, but I didn’t have the legs to stay with them for long. Given my lack of training I really need to start out slower and not do foolish things like pulling a pace line along the ocean in a headwind! I was smart enough not to kill myself to stay with them and since the scenery of these quite backroads was so nice I was happy just to roll along on my own. To my surprise I found a couple of those faster riders waiting for me 15kms down the road. That was nice of them for sure.

Sadly the last 15kms or so into town I was a lot slower than them so they had to really soft pedal and wait for me the whole way. I had to work harder than I would have on my own to do my best not to hold them up anymore than absolutely necessary. I’m not sure anyone had fun that last bit, but it was very kind of them to shepherd me in.

Sean on the road...

In the end it was a great day of riding without any rain. In fact in got sunny at points during the ride and made me happy to be on the Best Coast [BC]…=-) I was really happy to see so many rando types in one spot and ride with them. The turn out was 50-60 riders which is about 6-10 times what it would be in Alberta for a brevet [no populaires in AB!]. My fitness sucks, but at least it can’t go anywhere, but up.

My speed was 22.5kph on the bike and I spent about 38mins not moving for a total ride time of 5:05hrs. My distance ridden to and from the event was ~40kms for a total of ~140kms on the day. I was carrying my full brevet load [incl spare tire + 2 tubes and full rain gear] rather than striping down the bike for the shorter ride. I can ride up to a 600K [I think] with the same load by just replenishing food/water.

Victoria Populaire results are here and photos are here.

Paul coming into the 1st control...Photo: Jim - from BC Rando Site...

Lessons learned:

  • Going to Mexico kiteboarding for 6 weeks and then going away for work for another 2 weeks just prior to the rando season is not ideal for cycling fitness.
  • I’m going fast enough and I am comfortable enough to complete the 200K next weekend.
  • I’ve got a few minor tweaks to do to my cockpit in terms of bar/stem/saddle.
  • My white Oakleys don’t work great with ear warmers – wear a different pair next time.
  • The last bit of the 200K next weekend will not be fun.
  • 80% of the time when the forecast is for rain in Victoria it’s a lie.
  • The roads and scenery around Victoria are awesome for cycling…almost makes me glad I am going slower so I can appreciate them…almost…=-)
  • I need to start out a bit slower and build my energy output towards the end vs. the other way around.
  • I need to eat more at breakfast, but my on the bike eating is fine.
  • I will open energy bars and split them up so I can eat more easily on the move.
  • I want to pack a sandwich I can eat along the route. The weather is cool enough to keep it fresh and I prefer real food when possible.
  • I mixed my second  bottle of sports drink way too strong. However, I may do that again for the 200K so that once I am done the first bottle I can buy some water and mix two fresh bottles from the strong second one.
  • I will use the cue sheet as well as GPS for the next ride as I don’t completely trust my GPS.
  • Too late to do much training, but I’ll go out for some night ride action on Wednesday and then just do my normal about town errand cycling.
  • I really like riding a rando event with more than 4 other riders on the course!

Map, control card and cue sheet...

Up Next Spring Islander 200K

  • the route looks sweet with long dirt/gravel sections to and from Sooke [ideal for 40mm tires!]
  • I love the quite rusticness of the Galloping Goose Trail when it heads west out of the city.
  • So far the weather looks good on Saturday…nice…=-)
  • I only have to ride 7kms each way to start…=-)
  • I’ve swapped in the new cantis and levers – what a PITA!
  • So I need a test ride [Wed PM] to confirm all is good before Saturday.
  • GPS has been programmed.
  • Spring Islander 200K Info



8 responses

31 03 2011
Mike Croy

Hi Vik:

Congrats on finishing the populaire! It was nice meeting you at the ride and wow! What a sweet looking bike.
Looks like I will be doing daddy duties this weekend and will sit this ride out to ensure my wife can get out and does the ride.
See you at the start though!


31 03 2011
Micheal Blue

Yeah, Vik, congrats on finishing. 22.5kph is a good speed for me. In a hilly landscape, such as the one NW of Toronto, my average speed is a slooow 16-18 kph. Why is your GPS not accurate enough? Is it a general weak point of all GPS units, or are the new ones more reliable?

31 03 2011

@MB – I get GPS routes 3 ways:

1 – as a route from someone else online
2 – as a track from someone else online from which I create my own route
3 – I create one from scratch based on a route description or map

All of these start on my computer mapping software which shows the route based on the points you put in. When the route is DL’d to your GPS only the points are transfered and your GPS calculates the route from scratch using it’s own settings. Sometimes the decisions it makes are not the same as the computer.

Additionally you can make an error on the computer and not notice it.

The trouble with the GPS is the route is so small on that screen that it’s a hassle to run through it all to make sure it’s right.

The problem primarily occurs when there are many options to get to the same place and the cue sheet might take a nicer scenic route while the GPS plots a shorter faster route. The solution is to add a few extra points in along the desired route to force the GPS to take you there. Problem is I can only have 50 points in a route on my GPS and get turn by turn navigation.

I’m not good at reading cue sheets so doing so is a good learning experience for me. I can generally tell where my GPS is likely to have problems so I know which parts of the routes to focus on.

I’d like a GPS that allowed 200-1000+ route points with turn by turn navigation. I haven’t settled on a new GPS yet.

22.5kph isn’t bad, but my previous brevet speeds were around 25kph including mountain passes. That’s where I’d like to be, but sometimes reality bites…=-) I need to start training in Jan for that to happen in April. However, the scenery is so nice it’s just great to be out riding all day…=-)

31 03 2011

@Mike – nice to meet you as well. I’ll see you Sat at the start. You’ve got a pretty sweet rig there yourself…=-)

31 03 2011

Congrats on finishing. The timing of this report is good for me: I’m riding my first populaire this Sunday with the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club.

31 03 2011
David Crowell


I don’t know what GPS you use, but I gave up on turn-by-turn directions for pre-planned routes with eTrex Vista HCX.

I now use tracks and just follow the little purple line. I still have to tell the software to filter the track to 500 points, or split it into more than one track for longer rides, but that has worked for me.

31 03 2011

@David – I have a Garmin Vista Cx. Will the track give you turn by turn nav at night? If not how do you stay on course without killing your batteries using backlight all the time?

31 03 2011

When I could wear contacts, I used to wear my Oakley Racing Jacket Transitions shades. The tips of the ear pieces on these shades would flex a bit and make it easier to wear ear warmers or balaclavas on top of them.

I haven’t read this post in its entirety, yet, but I will be bach 🙂

Tail winds!

Peace 🙂

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