The misty, murky world of the Audax. For many, it conjures up images of old men, beards, steel bikes with names of past great frame builders, panniers, tandems, massive saddle bags, leather shoes and sandwiches in foil.
The reality is that Audaxing is attracting a new audience of disillusioned sportive riders appealed by it's grass roots organisation, low entry-fees and non-competitive nature. This year I haven't ridden one sportive, primary reason being they I can ride 100 miles on a bike anytime and don't need to spend thirty quid for the privilege.
The major sportives in the North West (Cheshire Cat/Manchester 100) have thousands of riders on them, many of whom are not used to riding in groups, the feed stops are busy and - in some instances - the waits to even start are too long. I have one sportive exception to this - Polocini - who limit entries, keep their prices low and provide decent food and organisation.
So, what is an Audax? Well, the best explanation is here, which our cycling club secretary produced. Link to the club website can be found here: -
"Wikipedia defines an Audax as "...a cycling sport in which participants attempt to cycle long distances within a pre-defined time limit. Audax is a non-competitive sport: success in an event is measured by its completion.
Think of an Audax as a cross between orienteering and a Sportive. You have a set route to follow, defined on a cue sheet or as a GPX file, with control points to prove that you've been to key places. Without direction arrows to follow you have to complete the course within set maxmium and minimum speeds. An Audax is not a race, it's a personal cycling challenge!
Audax UK oversees the running of events in the UK, and, using a system of timed checkpoints, and they validate and record every successful ride. Rides build up from 100km with structured goals and awards for distance and altitude climbed."
So, there you have it. A pre-determined route, enthusiastic and experienced cyclists, decent grub and much lower entry prices. As an example, the entry fee for our North Cheshire Clarion club Audax today was £6.00. The route was 75 miles long, around 2.5k of climbing, had fabulous home cooked food on departure and arrival back at the event HQ. Two cafe stops were en route, where you pay as normal for anything you have. Just take a look at the cake selection below!
|North Cheshire Clarion Audax Cake Table|
|Food I had on arriving back - champion!|
|An example of our control card used today. |
Riding home, I took the chance to get my bike cleaned at the local hand car wash. These guys normally clean my car, they were sat with no customers, so I whizzed in and they did the business for three quid. Arriving home, bike went straight back into it's stand, with no cleaning needed. Result, as it was filthy!
|Got the local car hand wash to clean my bike!|
A final thought goes out to Simon Richardson MBE who was joining us for today's ride, prior to his major collision. Climbing up those steep climbs, I needed every ounce of energy to haul myself up. Simon does those climbs using power from one leg. Just consider that for a moment. In fact, next time you're out, try cycling with one leg for a sustained period of time and see how long you last. Incredible athlete.