Words: Katherine Moore, @KatherineBikes
Audax may be one of cycling’s most traditional disciplines, but it’s certainly growing in popularity. The stereotypical geeky grey-bearded old man’s past-time is opening up more and more to people of all ages and abilities, men and women alike, with distances and challenges to suit every cyclist.
“The stereotypical geeky grey-bearded old man’s past-time is opening up more and more to people of all ages and abilities, men and women alike”
The ethos of Audax is to promote long distance cycling. Audax UK was initially formed to allow British cyclists to qualify for entry to the famous Paris-Brest-Paris Audax, a 1200km ride known the world over. Since then, numerous clubs and enthusiasts have mounted across the country, putting on regular rides of varying distances from 50km to well over 1000km!
The skills required to complete an Audax stretch further than simply having the leg power to endure the longer distance: navigation, bike maintenance and repair, successful fuelling and mental strength are key. Although it is not a race, riders, known as randonneurs, must complete the ride within the time limits in order to qualify for acknowledgement, points and awards; it is even possible to ride too fast!
Inspired by a few friends who had recently taken up long distance cycling and the active local Audax Club Bristol, I decided to bite the bullet and enter my first Audax in 2017. Fairly happy with riding 100 miles, I opted for the 200km option; more of a stretch and further than I’d ever ridden, but certainly achievable in my mind.
Preparation for my First Audax
On long distance rides more than ever it is crucial to make sure you are prepared for (almost) all eventualities. The day before the Audax I organised my kit, nutrition and gave the bike a once over to make sure we were all good to go.
Being the start of January the amount of kit required seems boggling, from thick merino socks and over shoes to thermal base layers, jerseys, wind and rainproof outers to name just a few. Although the forecast predicted cloudy but dry, I wasn’t going to risk getting caught out in the wet.
Fuelling properly is so important when riding all day, so I took note from my favourite book, Training Food by Renee McGregor, and packed ample snacks to start me off, including two bananas, a pack of six Welsh cakes, a flapjack, some Clif Shot Blocks and an emergency Wiggle gel. There’s usually food available at the controls during the ride, but I wanted to make sure that I had more than enough with me just in case, or if anyone else I met needed some.
The bike was cleaned, chain lubed and puncture kit packed with tubes, gas and levers. Lights were fully charged as well as the Garmin, with the GPS route loaded as provided on Audax UK. We were set; just a few hours drive to Oxford and an early night staying near the start before the grand depart in the morning!