An April bike ride report.

I like to ride bikes.

I do a lot of different bike riding types. Sometimes I commute to work on a bike. Sometimes I use a bike to get around town. Sometimes I hop on a mountain bike and go up Burnaby Mountain and ride the trails I have known intimately for more than 25 years. I used to race bikes, with a remarkable level of non-very-goodness. Sometimes I get on a road bike with friends and pound a few score kilometres off between coffee breaks.

That last one is where the Fraser River Fuggitivi comes in. FRF is an informal group of something like a dozen people, some sub-set of which meet up regularly on Sunday Mornings (in months without an “r”) at the River Market in New West and ride to a distant coffee shop. Very social, sometimes fast, always fun.

This year, the FRF took a group approach to a spring ride that has been a Vancouver tradition for 29 years: the Pacific Populaire, run by the BC Randonneurs Cycling Club. And that, I suppose, takes some definitions.

A Randonneur is a person who likes to ride a bicycle very long distances. It is neither touring (where you travel through the countryside or across the country carrying tents and sleeping bags, and enjoying the sights), nor is it racing (where people compete to get from A to B as fast as possible). Instead, they do rides called “brevets” which are measured distances (typically 200, 400, or 600 km) that must be completed in some minimum time. For example, a 600 km brevet must be completed within 40 hours. Each rider can decide how much time they spend riding or sleeping in those three days. The mother of all Brevets is the Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200-kilometre voyage into the depths of your own soul that must be completed in 90 Hours.Madness.

A Populaire is an ever-more-rational and somewhat more social event. The Pacific Pop is an annual spring event held the first weekend in April. Although it is structured like a brevet, it is “only” 100 km. The idea is not to make record time, but to shake out the winter cobwebs and have some fun. The roads are (mostly) not closed, but some of the usually-strict Randonneur rules (mandatory fenders and tail lights, etc.) are relaxed.

Several members of the FRF took to the streets of Vancouver for the Pacific Pop this year, and with the weather marginal to good as the day went on, the day was exceptional in its pleasantness, for April in the Rain Belt. Below is a bit of a photo essay:

With a marginal forecast and an early start, it was rain coats and espresso to
enhance the pre-ride jitters.
In rainy weather, a rear fender is more a courtesy to your fellow riders than an attempt to keep dry. With a showery forecast, many of the FRF went for the Fender Mullet: Business in the back, party in the front.

The 2014 Pacific Populaire had 700+ riders, which makes for a crowded start area.
Luckily, the first kilometre or two are closed to cars, to give the riders a chance to spread out and make space. Unlike a race or a Fondo, the traffic lights were operational for the entire ride, and the entire group generally followed the rules of the road (two-abreast riding notwithstanding).
See the FRF rider gritting his teeth like Hinault on the Col de Marie-Blanque? Then note the couple behind him on city bikes with baskets, she in skinny jeans. They finished about the same time as us…
I seem to remember saying to Matt about this time: I know you feel good now, but with 80 more km to go, let’s think about saving energy.
Always as good reminder.
The control station was on Dyke Road in south Richmond, about 45km in. Here riders get a time stamp for their cards and fill up on baked goods, oranges, and Gatorade.
Then back on the rural roads of east Richmond for some serious paceline action to make up for the lost time. 
River Road in north Richmond is the regular FRF stomping grounds. The rains refused to come, but the headwind here was feeling rather unkind.
Back over the best piece of bicycle infrastructure in Greater Vancouver. I hope they had the traffic counters on for the bridge today.
As prophesied, the long road up Marine to UBC into the breeze got me. There is nothing a rider hates to see more than this: an expanding distance between your front wheel and the pack…
…and the gap begins to grow. Time to dig deep and close that gap, only because 5 minutes of big effort will make the rest of the ride so much easier…
It took more than 5 minutes, but the gap is closed, and I hook back up with the FRF folks.
Just in time for us to the finish… no “finish line” in this non-race, just a line-up for the check-in and…
A completed time card and souvenir pin, the only prizes at a Populaire…
…and the real reward of 100km in April.

MoreMilesMoreBeer. That’s the FR Fuggitivi motto.

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