A recent Audax I did (On to the Big Ring from Dore in Sheffield) has reignited the passion I have for cycling after a small hiatus. It got me thinking about why I started Audaxing in the first place and I’ve managed to sum it up in 5 points.
I can’t tell you how many fascinating people I’ve met through Audax, some of whom are now great friends (looking at you, El!). I ended up bumping into the usual suspects on multiple events throughout this year, which gave me a great sense of community. FAQs like “how’s training going?” recur every time we meet and we discuss plans for future Audaxes that are on our calendars. There’s also a lot of wisdom in your average Audaxer – people who’ve got a story to tell. I try to talk to as many people as I can because almost always they can give advice on events they’ve done in the past and offer insight on what they’re up to in the coming months, which in turn shapes what I do in the near future. The volunteers at these events are also worth their weight in gold, particularly at the longer overnight Audaxes. These gods and goddesses make sure we’re warm and fed no matter the time of day or state of us (whether that’s soggy, lacking personality or beaming with enthusiasm) – huge THANK YOU.
I use Audax as a means to discover new places and ride different roads – expand my horizon if you will. This year alone I’ve ridden in parts of the country I never thought I would and up climbs I would go out of my way to avoid and it’s so rewarding. Often, it’s too hard to plan a route around unfamiliar territory yourself without knowing what the roads are like in the first place so Audax takes that part out of it, adds a great atmosphere and support and throws in a load of other lovely willing people for measure too.
I think the most I’ve paid for an Audax is £35-£40 and that was for Bryan Chapman (600km) which included a lot of food, some shelter and plenty of smiling faces up and down the length of Wales. Consider your average sportive that costs about £30 for just 100km – need I say more? Many of the events I enter are under £10 and while I will have to buy my food on my way around at various controls, it’s still incredible value. I could even pack everything in a saddle pack full of sandwiches if I wanted to be extra cheap but trying out local cafes and petrol stations is becoming somewhat of a favourite pastime of mine.
When I find myself back at HQ after an Audax, there’s a great sense of achievement even on smaller 200km rides and the best part is there’s always someone there to chat to. In fact, at most events there’s usually a dog to pat as well – bonus! Some Audaxes are the very definition of “epic achievement”, many of which I’ve yet to do. Consider Mille Pennines, a 1000km event which I’m reassured has just about every 30% climb in the north of England to ascend, London-Edinburgh-London which occurs every 4 years (2017 being the latest edition) and the crux of many an Audaxer’s ambitions: Paris-Brest-Paris. They’re the kinds of events that require a wealth of experience not just including cycling but also an element of self-sufficiency. I can’t wait to fill in my brevet card for some of these!
Audax allows you to work towards bigger awards like Super Randonneur, various Brevet awards and more ambitious ones like Audax Altitude Awards. Ultimately, you’ll never be short of a goal to work towards. I’ve got my SR for the 16/17 seasons so I think I’ll try for SR2000 this year by throwing in a 500km ride for the extra kudos, but perhaps a more long-term goal for me would be Brevet 1000 which takes places over the course of 4 years or the famous Randonneur Round The Year which involves commitment of at least one 200km+ ride a month for the whole year.
If I’ve successfully convinced you to enter an event head over to the Audax UK calendar. You’ll need to join AUK first but you’ll even get change from £20 there. Now to scout the calendar for my next ride…