Local Audaxes – distance rides to challenge you

After our article on Audaxes, a few messages have come in asking for event details – here you go and we have added a few permanent routes into the routes and rides page.

Friday 20th May 2022.

Two challenging audax routes starting from Bewdley.  They are both x’rated events (no hall start or finish and low entry fee) using challenging yet scenic routes. Hay Skivers!  A 209km audax to Ludlow, Hay-on-Wye, Gospel or Crasswall Passes, Ledbury and back.  https://www.droitwichcyclingclub.co.uk/audax/

or go for the shorter Part Time Skivers!  A 112km audax to Ludlow, Church Stretton and back via the South Shropshire Hills. https://www.droitwichcyclingclub.co.uk/audax/

Saturday 23rd July 2022

A classic and infamously hilly audax in its 38th year, starting from Belbroughton Recreation Centre – The Kidderminster Killer.  215km to Church Stretton, Montgomery, Chapel Lawn Village Hall, Ludlow and return.  This route includes 3,750m of ascent including passages over Sheep Walks, Brown Clee, Wenlock Edge, Long Mynd, Stiperstones, Kerry Ridgeway, The Fiddler’s Elbow, Mortimer’s Forest and Clee Hill.  http://beaconrcc.org.uk/audaxes

Saturday 1st October 2022

An easier 209km audax through Shropshire from Belbroughton Recreation Centre. The South Salopian at 205km features Tenbury Wells, Bishop’s Castle, Ironbridge.  Predominantly gentle undulations through The Marches with only one large climb over the Long Mynd via the easiest ascent. http://beaconrcc.org.uk/audaxes/ 

What is an Audax?

Thanks to Sarah Peters, a local Audaxer, who deciphers the cycling and French lingo for Bewdley Bike Week to explain.

Cycling comes in many forms and disciplines.  We often learn to ride as a child without the knowledge of mountain biking, backpacking, touring, road cycling, 4x, BMX, downhill racing, velodrome racing and XC because all we aim to do is ride up and down a local road or in a park to have fun on two wheels with our friends and family. 

Despite the extensive variety in cycling disciplines and the requirement of differing skills, each discipline has one element in common and that is a good level of fitness.  There are lots of ways to gain cycling fitness, and one way is to ride regularly with two medium-length rides in the week and a longer ride at weekends.  This allows the body to adapt over time without maximum effort all the time.  As you get fitter, your legs start getting stronger and before you know it you start riding longer rides, but they can get a bit boring on your own.

So if you are looking to gain fitness without the pain of huffing and puffing up hills only to collapse at the top so your lungs can recover, why not have a go at Audaxing?

Audax is another cycling discipline in which the rider attempts to cycle long distances within a set time limit.  It is a non-competitive sport which you can ride solo or with friends.  The only requisite is that you have a roadworthy bike which can be anything from a two-wheel version we are all familiar with including tandems, trikes, recumbents and elliptigos.  E-bikes are currently not allowed.

The emphasis is on self-sufficiency which means if you are unable to fix a mechanical issue on your bike and cannot continue to finish the ride, you will need to find your own way home.  Of course, as your bike is well serviced, you ride with a friend or another Audaxer helps you, then you’ll be just fine.  If you are just starting out, have a practice at home in changing your inner tube in case you get a puncture.

It is recommended that each rider carries the following essential items: 2 spare inner tubes, a puncture repair kit, 3 tyre levers, Allen keys, cable ties, a small spanner and a good pump capable of pumping up to 100psi.  A waterproof coat for inclement weather and an extra layer to keep warm when you stop.  For longer rides, good lighting is essential.  A handlebar bag or a rear bag is very useful to carry extra items such as food and first aid kit, gloves, buffs, battery charging packs, and mobile phones to include essential items along with some money.

To enter an Audax, visit www.audax.uk where you will find a list of events, known as calendar events.  You can enter without being a member to give Audaxing a go first for a small extra charge (which includes 3rd party insurance).  In general, entry fees are very minimal and offer fantastic value. 

The route is organised for you, however, it is not way-marked.  You navigate it by way of a .gpx file or turn by turn written instructions.  Along the way, you will have to go to set points called “controls” which are compulsory to visit and sometimes there are information controls (also compulsory) where a question has to be answered.  The main controls are usually towns and cafes (on longer rides, village halls are often used) so that you can top yourself up with water and food to re-energise yourself to continue the ride. 

Brevet Card

At the start, you are given a brevet card which is completed as you follow the route. 

Do look at it before leaving the start so you know roughly where the controls are and if there are any questions to be answered on the way.  The card also tells you the minimum and maximum time you have in order to pass through that particular point.  At the finish (Arrivee), you hand it into the organiser who will check the details and validate the card as a successful ride.  Some weeks later, the results appear on the Audax website. 

Here is an example of a typical 100km Audax ride:

Ready to Go! Brevet cards have been laid out in alphabetical order so you can collect your own card.  Sometimes the organiser will hand them out in person.  Pop it in your jacket pocket and keep it on yourself throughout the ride.  Do not lose it!
Your card – On the front of a brevet card with your name on it, you complete the remaining details.
The `start – At the start time, everyone congregates outside where most organisers will give out any essential updates to all riders, such as last-minute road closures which may involve a detour and then you all set off together at your own pace because it is not a race.  Audaxing is a pleasurable ride and to be enjoyed.
This is an information-control.  On reading the question on the brevet card,
one would assume this was an easy one.  In reality, if the mileage had not been noted before reaching the control, it would have been easy to ride completely past without noticing the answer.  Why?  Because the pub was situated 100m off the road and set back.  It was not obvious and could easily have been missed.  Never assume a pub is on the road side.
Cafe Stops – a Main control.  Bikes parked up and riders are having lunch inside.  Sometimes there is a volunteer to hand, who will stamp your card.  On this ride, the Cafe had a stamp on their counter which you helped yourself to. 
6 hours later, the ride is finished, and the card is completed and handed to the organiser who validates the back of the card.  You get to keep the card as a record of your success and a few weeks later the results appear on the Audax website.

Distances start at 50km and are typically 100km, 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, 1000km, 1200km and 1500km. 

200km is 125 miles so if you have always wanted to ride 100 miles, Audaxing will get you there with some effort on your part.

Audaxing is not a competitive sport and is not a race.  However, your success is recognised each time you complete a ride.  Not only do you have your validated brevet card, but you also receive an e-certificate, results are published on the Audax website as a permanent record and you are able to apply for badges for each distance achieved.  For those who are competitive, then have a look at www.audax.uk website where you can achieve annual awards and cups if you are that way inclined. 

Most importantly, just get out on your bike, enjoy your ride and have some fun.