CCN interviewed Danelle Laidlaw – Organizer of the Pacific Populaire since 2001 to find out more about the event that is coming up on April 1st, 2012.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your biking background?
I have been cycling for over 50 years and involved with the Randonneur Cycling Club for about 30 years. I was very fortunate to be able to turn my love of cycling into a job and it is very gratifying to see the increased interest in cycling that is occurring as more and more municipalities create more and more infrastructure to make cycling easier and safer.
2. What’s the background of the event?
The founder of this event was Daniel Egan, now a Bicycle Transportation Engineer with the City of Toronto. At the time, Daniel worked for the BC Safety Council. He wanted to see a challenging recreational ride to promote cycling and safety in the city similar to rides being held in Seattle. That was 27 years ago.
From the very first, the randos were involved and we have tried to make it a social, friendly introduction to our sport – marathon cycling.
3. What makes the event different?
That it is recreational but also a timed event. So, it is not a race and everyone who finishes is a winner, but you can use this early season event as a goal for getting back on the bike after the wet winter weather and comparing your performance with the previous year.
4. What are your main goals for the event this year?
Last year we had over 600 riders and we would like to maintain this number, even though we have lost our start venue. We think there is a real participation benefit being able to start the event in Vancouver.
We want good weather, safe rides by everyone, and we want the event to be fun.
5. What are your top 2 places to ride and why?
Locally, Vancouver is definitely a very cyclable city – there has been lots of work done by City Hall to encourage cycling and we take advantage of bike routes for our ride. And you can’t beat the Fraser Valley for the variety of routes that it offers and great destinations to give your ride purpose.
6. What bike are you riding now and any thoughts on what your next purchase will be?
Oh, come on – who has only 1 bike? I have my bike for running errands, my rando bike, my touring bike – a Ritchie which breaks down and I travel with, my mountain bike, my tandem(s) and I love them all.
But if I won the lottery, I think I would buy a Gilles Berthoud with all the bags for touring or a bamboo bike.
7. What advice do you have for novice riders?
Just get out there – one can always find excuses and talk about obstacles, but once you get out there and experience the feeling of satisfaction one gets from being self-powered, you’ll find a way to make cycling more a part of your life.
Then, go to a bike store to buy a bike. You will get good advice and there are a lot of choices.
8. What is your favourite post-ride beverage?
Beer. But you should probably drink some water first – I usually force myself to finish off my camelbak or water bottle, before treating myself to a beer.
(early bird rate ends March 28th)