What is Audax?
Audax in the UK is a long distance cycling event. Some call it “touring with paperwork”. The old joke goes that “Sportives are full of people pretending they are racing, and Audaxes are full of people pretending they’re not.” Simply put, Audaxes are non-competitive rides at set distances, with a bit of validation to prove you’ve done it. Ride validation has to meet the standards set by Audax UK.
Who are Audax UK?
Audax UK are the governing body for Audaxes in the UK, providing event insurance, validating rides and working with overseas governing bodies to ensure mutual recognition of events. UK events are organised locally by clubs and individuals passionate about encouraging our sport.
What are the set distances?
In the UK there are two groups of distances:
Brevet Populaire: 50km, 100km, 160km.
Brevet Randonneur: 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km and upwards.
Why is everything in kilometres?
Cycling is a worldwide sport. British Imperial miles are not a worldwide unit. As we are riding set distances recognised around the world, we work with kilometres.
What sort of bicycle do I need?
Possibly the most frequently asked question. While it is true that any bike is an Audax bike, not every bike makes Audaxing easy or comfortable. Ideally you want a reliable bike: if your bike can’t make it to the end of the ride, then neither can you. Secondly a comfortable bike: if you’re going to be on the bike a long time, it is helpful to be as comfortable as possible… bearing in mind that eventually you will become uncomfortable – we all do. Thirdly: a bike you like. If you’re not enjoying the ride you’ll not come back for more. Do you have a bike you love? Ride that.
Do I need mudguards, lights and bike-packing luggage?
Consider this differently: enter your first Audax in summer, on a dry and sunny day, with a distance you can cover comfortably in daylight. Carry with you the basic repair kit for your bike, a water bottle, means of paying for some food at a café and some means of navigating the route. If you have enjoyed that, speak to other VC167 riders on the route to figure out what you’d need for a mid-winter solo DIY 400km event.
How do I find my way round?
A lot of first timers come along with a friend who navigates for them. However audaxing is supposed to be self-sufficient, so guiding yourself round becomes important quite quickly. Traditionally riders used a “route-sheet” written by the organiser describing the route. All you needed to know was how far you’d ridden. These days most riders have a cycle GPS of some description, and follow a route created by the organiser. Most bicycle computers can last the 8 to 14 hours for a 200km event, but beyond that riders need some method for keeping their GPS alive.
Will I be fast enough?
The best mantra is “ride an all day pace, all day”. Many riders who are fast over a short distance struggle to transition to long distance because they can’t slow down. Some people ride fast and stop for ages in cafes, some people ride slow and never stop. The overall minimum speed is 15kph (less than 10mph). If you set out at 15kph and ride that pace all day, you’ll finish the audax within time. Very few people trouble the “not more than” 30kph (19mph) overall speed, as the speed limit includes time stopped.
What if I can’t finish?
If you are part of a club like VC167 you will be surrounded by clubmates who will help you out, but if you really can’t go on – for mechanical, physical or mental reasons – then you’ll need to find a taxi or train to get back to the start. There are “cycle recovery” services a bit like the AA, but for cyclists. Have a look at ETA insurance for an example.
Audax UK FAQ: https://www.audax.uk/about-audax/faqs/
Alternatively, just join us on a ride and ask.