Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: eddum on April 23, 2020, 11:47:31 am

Title: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 23, 2020, 11:47:31 am
Sorry got carried away with the catchy title... feel free to moderate me away if not an appropriate discussion... or link me to elsewhere for similar things I've missed !

Since we're not riding much at the moment I've been musing on my general long distance philosophy and trying to break down different areas that might be seen as key skills for being a "good" successful audaxer, and how their importance changes as the distances increase.

So here's my starter for ten, what areas have I missed ? (sub categories & silly ones also accepted)

But that's really the next stage of my musing, I might even put together a google form for that bit.
Thanks for any thoughts / constructive discussions / amusing diversions / ridicule / anecdotes of 100words or less... etc  ;D
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: jiberjaber on April 23, 2020, 01:17:48 pm
Wow - this is a tricky one, could be a good candidate for a pair-wise comparison to groupthink it to a list....

I think there is something further in the 'mental' part but its such a broad catch-all..

planning, calculating and adapting in terms of time, route and activities (after all faff is the thing that makes it harder as it is a time tine and effects everything else, faff and not be very fit = more time pressure etc.. (other examples are available) )

Interesting!
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 23, 2020, 01:19:36 pm
If fitness was a requirement, then the rate of DNF would be a lot higher...

That of course depends on the definition of fitness, but a BMI of 28 is not fitness in my books
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Kim on April 23, 2020, 01:22:49 pm
I think it mostly comes down to having a body that will cooperate (which is of course as much about luck as anything else), having enough Copious Free Time™ to spend a lot of time riding, and the mental disposition to think that it's actually a good way to spend said time.  The rest can be learned/trained for.

Probably helps to have some kind of pedal cycle, too.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: citoyen on April 23, 2020, 01:43:47 pm
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: CrazyEnglishTriathlete on April 23, 2020, 03:26:19 pm
Mental.  If I think of the events I haven't finished, it's been the head that has let me down in about half of them.  Others have been mechanical and injury. 

On technical I would put the clothing element into planning - knowing what to take with you - although some of that is short-term planning when the weather forecast turns from a nice day out with a tailwind home to its usual uurgh 24 hours before the event starts.  That might be because I'm alright with the clothing bit but not very good with the on the fly bike maintenance.

BMI and Fitness don't necessarily correlated.  There are plenty of people I work with who have a perfectly healthy BMI but would be shattered after riding 20 miles. 

Sleep?????
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 23, 2020, 03:47:40 pm


BMI and Fitness don't necessarily correlated.  There are plenty of people I work with who have a perfectly healthy BMI but would be shattered after riding 20 miles. 


There are many ways to measure fitness... recently I read that according to a study if you can do 40 press ups the chances of having a heart attack are basically zero... whereas I have not seen anywhere than being able to cycle 200 km has the same effect, in fact I can recall quite a few long distance riders dropping dead whilst cycling over the years.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Greenbank on April 23, 2020, 04:40:08 pm
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.

This is what I was going to post. Early on I went massively over the top with planning and preparation to get round various 200s. Rewriting routesheets in a preferred format for fear of getting lost, spare parts beyond belief (I did my first 200 with a crank puller as I'd just replaced the crank and was worried something would go wrong), and also made a huge number of mistakes (not eating enough, thinking I'll fill up the water bottles in the next shop rather than this one and then not seeing another shop for 50 blisteringly hot/hilly km).

With experience I got a lot more blasé. I'd just turn up for a 200 having ridden 50km in the month before and a small saddlepack. Whatever I lacked in physical preparedness (i.e. miles in the legs or "training") I'd just have to make up for with mental fortitude and I generally knew that I could and would. It was also the fact that, early on, I really really wanted to complete every ride. After a 50 point season I just started to ride Audaxes for fun, if it was a horrible headwind and pissing with rain I'd be perfectly happy to bail to a train station and call it a day. I still finished most rides but it definitely makes it a nicer experience knowing that you could bail if you wanted to.

Sleep management is one that I've seen many people struggle with. I'm lucky in that I can get by on very little (I think I had ~10h max in total during both LEL'09 and PBP'11) and it doesn't really affect me. Sure I got the dozies on both rides, but I had enough time for a 45 minute power nap that got me through to the next 2h sleep. I've ridden a few 200s with a friend and we've tried a 300 but he bailed due to inexperience, but there's no chance he'd be able to push on to a 400, he just can't deal with the sleep dep problems and, like me at some points, just isn't fast enough to get a good nap anywhere.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: CrazyEnglishTriathlete on April 23, 2020, 05:08:43 pm
Another thought on mental - not so much positive mental attitude but being in the right headspace.  My first PBP (2007) was ridden in shocking weather.  It was twice the distance I'd ever ridden before.  My saddle broke at 4am 15km out of Brest and I had to ride the next 65km either in a BMX position or out of the saddle, before getting a new saddle with 600km to go.  Yet there was never a point where I thought I wasn't going to finish.

Second PBP 2011, way more experienced, wanting to do a fast time, stressful experience at registration where they decided they didn't like my bike.  Suffered and was miserable all the way to Brest and on the point of giving up, before reducing the level of giving up to.  "I'm stopping to sleep in Brest and to hell with the time."  After that, planned to tour back without a care in the world and rode an indecently fast 400 back to Villaines and ended up finishing less sleep deprived that an the start.

Third PBP 2015, way more sensible.  Set off with the objective of enjoying it, towed a group from Mortagne to Villaines for the sheer hell of it, and generally had a ball. 

I've been successful at Audax when I've managed not to worry about it. 
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: LiamFitz on April 23, 2020, 05:59:11 pm
Top two inches
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: madcow on April 23, 2020, 11:03:47 pm
I've been successful at Audax when I've managed not to worry about it.

I think that you need to put that into context.
Relaxed on the event but committed in the preparation. For me they go hand in hand.


Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: bairn again on April 23, 2020, 11:20:33 pm
My first reaction was to endorse the "its all upstairs" line, though that is probably a little to simplistic.   

A minimum level of fitness, organisation and technical ability definitely helps but the biggest obstacles to the longest events are mainly mental (though I say that as somebody for whom sleep is easy and I know thats a big issue for some).

Ive DNFd a fair few audaxes, sometimes a mechanical or medical issue will knock you out (a failed York Arrow and PBP 2019 are my two unwelcome poster boys). 

The events Ive finished after having doubts were ones where I decided I was going to finish even if I was going to be out of time which I guess was a way of taking pressure off myself.

It might just be me but taking the (mainly self inflicted) pressure off myself is conducive to success.  When thoughts of how awful it all is and how easy a DNF would be Ive found that reminding myself how fantastically well Im doing on an event  is a big +.  Even when the guy at the Gainsborough Travelodge says that you dont actually exist at 2am when youre trying to check in. 

Do continue your research and bottle the elixir!
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Bolt on April 23, 2020, 11:53:30 pm
I always sum up long-distance cycling like this. Anybody can ride long distances. You just have to be stupid enough to think it's a good idea and believe in yourself enough to see it through to the bitter end. For me, anything else is over-thinking it. We're none of us athletes, after all!
For some years I've been toying with the idea of writing a book titled along the the lines of "Anybody Can Ride Long Distances"...  Yes, the right mindset is all important, but you only have to look at the DNF percentage of say LEL 2017, to realise it is more than sheer determination that is required to be a successful long distance rider.  In comparison to the general population I would say that successful audaxers could be considered as athletes in the wider sense.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: bludger on April 24, 2020, 12:01:25 am
Clothing selection for conditions is a big one for me. My most difficult ride ever had me really, REALLY cold and there was nowhere I could hide because I was in rural France/Belgium so no kind of salvation available. If you get cold, wet, or worse, both, even the hardiest and fittest will crumble.

The only reason I didn't DNF mine (or at least, find somewhere warm to sleep from 2am until about 8am and therefore probably finish late) was that there was no choice. The only feasible bail out would be to beg the organiser to give me a lift home in his minivan at the halfway mark and that would be to let the side down to an unforgivable degree.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 24, 2020, 09:04:38 am
Wow - this is a tricky one, could be a good candidate for a pair-wise comparison to groupthink it to a list....

I think there is something further in the 'mental' part but its such a broad catch-all..

planning, calculating and adapting in terms of time, route and activities (after all faff is the thing that makes it harder as it is a time tine and effects everything else, faff and not be very fit = more time pressure etc.. (other examples are available) )

Interesting!

Cheer yes I think I've added Planning/Preparation to the list.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 24, 2020, 09:08:24 am
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.

Yeah I'm trying to avoid "experience" as something slightly nebulous, plenty of people in endurance sports in general jump in at the deep end and do well enough without much experience, maybe they learn it in training or for the first time in their big event but for sure that gives them a lot of extra unknowns & risk in effect.
Also if I was rating by distance experience wouldn't factor so much until 300km+.

I am perhaps thinking of a more general "Execution" which covers pacing and experience certainly plays into the ability to execute a plan or a ride successfully.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 24, 2020, 09:15:06 am
My first reaction was to endorse the "its all upstairs" line, though that is probably a little to simplistic.   

A minimum level of fitness, organisation and technical ability definitely helps but the biggest obstacles to the longest events are mainly mental (though I say that as somebody for whom sleep is easy and I know thats a big issue for some).
%u2026
Do continue your research and bottle the elixir!

Cheers yes and to some extent those replies are little predictable, I'm quite sure as an experienced Audaxer there are a lot of aspects of preparation and self management we have developed & take for granted.
And mental fortitude well.. how big a factor is that in 100km or 200km compared to 600 ?...

If as newcomer planning their first 400km say asked for advice and all we told them was "it's all in the mind" I think we'd be selling them short somewhat (and somewhat dangerously too!).

[Back story.. if anything as an endurance athlete & coach in various sports over 20 or so years I've come to realise that we take a lot of our skill/ability for granted, only if we recognise what it is that we do (and make no doubt that what we do is remarkable) and how we do it can we be useful to passing on that to others]
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 24, 2020, 09:16:15 am
If fitness was a requirement, then the rate of DNF would be a lot higher...

That of course depends on the definition of fitness, but a BMI of 28 is not fitness in my books
BMI is a very poor metric.  When we have our annual health check at work all my numbers come back in the green (blood pressure, heart rate, body fat, cholesterol) except BMI if I had smaller leg muscles it probably would but I'm not sure how that would make me fitter.

I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year. Lockdown has it down to 26 hoping to get it below 25 for the first time in many years this summer.

Of course this will make my trousers loose and a smaller size won't go over my thighs.

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Speed becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 24, 2020, 10:32:52 am
For my definition of  fitness I'm gonna take the GCSE PE definition...

"Fitness is the ability to meet the demands of the environment"

Don't care how you want to try and measure it  ;D (BMI absolutely isn't it) but for me its the physical ability to cope with the environment we're about to put it in.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 24, 2020, 10:44:18 am

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: madcow on April 24, 2020, 10:49:05 am
I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year.

Snap-26.9 to be exact and by my standards, I was flying.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 24, 2020, 10:50:48 am

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)

Or your front wheel leaning against the garage door when you put your bike in the car ?..
(Oh that was a triathlon and not me :P)
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 24, 2020, 01:19:40 pm


I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year. Lockdown has it down to 26 hoping to get it below 25 for the first time in many years this summer.


Fine, but your 27 BMI was not your peak of fitness, otherwise you wouldn't try to reduce it...

To put it in another way, you completed PBP despite your BMI of 27, which proves my point that fitness is not a requirement for Audax.

I have yet to see a piece of evidence linking long distance cycling with any health benefit in addition to say, doing your 90-150 minutes of weekly exercise or whatever the Government bangs on about
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Davef on April 24, 2020, 01:43:16 pm
During normal times the NHS recommend minimum is 150 mins per week of moderate or 75 minutes of intense. It also states this is a minimum and it is best if you do more.

Personally I am trying to do as much in the sunshine as possible. Partly because it is good for mental health and partly because I expect a link between vitamin D deficiency and poor covid outcomes might soon be established.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 24, 2020, 01:51:17 pm
I had no idea what my BMI was so ran it through the NHS calculator.  20.6 - seems to be in the middle of healthy.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 24, 2020, 02:07:08 pm
I had no idea what my BMI was so ran it through the NHS calculator.  20.6 - seems to be in the middle of healthy.

It's actually pretty low! You are probably in the 5-10% of the population who are under 21... mine is 22.5 and I am considered pretty skinny.
You should be a hell of a climber
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 24, 2020, 02:46:39 pm


I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year. Lockdown has it down to 26 hoping to get it below 25 for the first time in many years this summer.


Fine, but your 27 BMI was not your peak of fitness, otherwise you wouldn't try to reduce it...

To put it in another way, you completed PBP despite your BMI of 27, which proves my point that fitness is not a requirement for Audax.

I have yet to see a piece of evidence linking long distance cycling with any health benefit in addition to say, doing your 90-150 minutes of weekly exercise or whatever the Government bangs on about
Still fitter than most, despite their lower BMI
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 24, 2020, 02:49:34 pm

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)
LOL,

Pales into insignificance compared to losing my main light on the eurostar when heading over to do a Dutch 1000km and consequently sleeping outdoors on 2 nights, still finished with 3 hours spare

Did I neglect to mention adaptability and resourcefulness in the field?
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 24, 2020, 03:31:56 pm

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)
LOL,

Pales into insignificance compared to losing my main light on the eurostar when heading over to do a Dutch 1000km and consequently sleeping outdoors on 2 nights, still finished with 3 hours spare

Did I neglect to mention adaptability and resourcefulness in the field?

Much as that was in jest it's an important point.   When I caught up with you you had resolved the issue.

On PBP My left pedal fell apart at about 800k.   I was very lucky to be near a bike a shop and managed to buy a new pair of pedals and swap the cleats over, losing about an hour.   A few years back I would probably have had a tetchy strop and quit.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: jsabine on April 24, 2020, 10:58:34 pm
I have yet to see a piece of evidence linking long distance cycling with any health benefit in addition to say, doing your 90-150 minutes of weekly exercise or whatever the Government bangs on about

The Norman Lazarus studies of a cohort of older cyclists (mentioned several times here, normally when he's looking for new participants) are a pretty good start - the BBC report gives a reasonable introduction and further links.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43308729
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 25, 2020, 06:52:18 am
I have yet to see a piece of evidence linking long distance cycling with any health benefit in addition to say, doing your 90-150 minutes of weekly exercise or whatever the Government bangs on about

The Norman Lazarus studies of a cohort of older cyclists (mentioned several times here, normally when he's looking for new participants) are a pretty good start - the BBC report gives a reasonable introduction and further links.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43308729

That is encouraging, however it is not clear to me whether a group of long distance cyclists were chosen for convenience (easy to find them via AUK or CTC) or to be compared against another population of ageing (yet active) people.
It seems to me the control group are inactive.
It would be interesting to compare them against another group of relatively fit subjects.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on April 25, 2020, 07:36:49 am
I’ve long thought that a rider needs most (but not necessarily all) of five things for success in brevets. In no particular order, they are:
- Ability (naturally talented folk can easily ride fast enough to finish in time, despite losing time to incidents or faffing. Other folk, not so much)
- Fitness (training on the bike or otherwise to make the most of your natural talents, lack of illness)
- Preparation/ experience (understanding the demands of the event on machine and rider, including understanding the route)
- Determination (deciding to finish ‘come what may’ and actually following through in a pinch is worth a lot)
- Luck (at crucial points of the ride, including assistance by fellow riders, weather and so on)

Having all five makes finishing even tough brevets look trivial. Lacking one or even two of the five doesn’t really stop a rider finishing a brevet and often makes for a better story afterwards. Lacking three or more is almost certainly a DNF.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: SR Steve on April 25, 2020, 10:13:36 am
I agree with LittleWheelsandBig regarding natural ability, fitness, preparation, determination and luck, although I think most of the luck aspect is in the natural ability. Most bad luck events in audax rides can be designed out by good planning and preparation as they are mostly predictable.

Ultimately I think the key trait for successful audaxing is persistence; just keeping going and chipping away whatever distance needs to be covered. All you really have to do is make sure that your overall average speed is sufficient to stay ahead of the control closing times. I don’t advocate cutting it fine though; ideally I like to keep as far away from those control closing times as possible as time in hand can soon disappear if you need to stop for any reason, foreseen or otherwise.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: HK on April 25, 2020, 10:41:24 am
One thing is missing. Support from the person you live with. Having to do all the house chores on top of a demanding day job can stretch even the most talented rider to breaking point.  The ‘I expected it of you’ even when you complete a very tough event against odds that say you shouldn’t undermine your confidence and pleasure in a job well done.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: HK on April 25, 2020, 12:03:34 pm
I agree with LittleWheelsandBig regarding natural ability, fitness, preparation, determination and luck, although I think most of the luck aspect is in the natural ability. Most bad luck events in audax rides can be designed out by good planning and preparation as they are mostly predictable.

Ultimately I think the key trait for successful audaxing is persistence; just keeping going and chipping away whatever distance needs to be covered. All you really have to do is make sure that your overall average speed is sufficient to stay ahead of the control closing times. I don’t advocate cutting it fine though; ideally I like to keep as far away from those control closing times as possible as time in hand can soon disappear if you need to stop for any reason, foreseen or otherwise.

Unless you ride tandem or tandem trike. It’s impossible to factor out mechanicals that could potentially stop play no letter how good your prepreperation is.  A strong team is always going to break stuff. There are also things like eLeptiGos destroying back wheels.   The art is not to flap and have the ability to fix anything and of course have the talent to chase back into time.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: zigzag on April 25, 2020, 01:02:06 pm
i find audaxes quite easy, so probably not the best person to give advice. being healthy(ish), not overweight and willing to ride a bike a lot is a good start. having the bike that is fit for purpose helps too (many different choices there). travel light, have fitting non-flappy kit, know your digestion, don't spend too much time stopped. tough moments do pass and they happen to everyone.

i've mentored my father on one training camp, as a preparation for a hilly audax 2100km over seven days - as his first audax. he wasn't really a cyclist, discovered bikes two years prior, but was fairly fit from playing football, ice-hockey and table tennis in his youth, eating simple home cooked food all his life and not being overweight.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 25, 2020, 01:32:47 pm
The paradox is that if I was less fit, I'd be better at long distance.
The problem is that I tend to go too hard, so I typically pay a heavy price on long brevets.

Day one of the BCM I averaged 27-28 km/h moving speed, day two was more like 20... just spent, with no energy. I've tried many times to ride slower at the start, but inevitably I get carried away and end up in the fast peloton, rolling out at 32-35 km/h for the first hour or two...
I guess that's what I enjoy to do and should probably give up on anything longer than a 200 or an easy 300.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Davef on April 25, 2020, 02:56:47 pm
The paradox is that if I was less fit, I'd be better at long distance.
The problem is that I tend to go too hard, so I typically pay a heavy price on long brevets.

Day one of the BCM I averaged 27-28 km/h moving speed, day two was more like 20... just spent, with no energy. I've tried many times to ride slower at the start, but inevitably I get carried away and end up in the fast peloton, rolling out at 32-35 km/h for the first hour or two...
I guess that's what I enjoy to do and should probably give up on anything longer than a 200 or an easy 300.
You paced yourself incorrectly for your level of fitness. If you were less fit you would probably do the same. That is down to experience/preparation - number 3 on the now definitive list.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 25, 2020, 03:03:36 pm
The paradox is that if I was less fit, I'd be better at long distance.
The problem is that I tend to go too hard, so I typically pay a heavy price on long brevets.

Day one of the BCM I averaged 27-28 km/h moving speed, day two was more like 20... just spent, with no energy. I've tried many times to ride slower at the start, but inevitably I get carried away and end up in the fast peloton, rolling out at 32-35 km/h for the first hour or two...
I guess that's what I enjoy to do and should probably give up on anything longer than a 200 or an easy 300.
You paced yourself incorrectly for your level of fitness. If you were less fit you would probably do the same. That is down to experience/preparation - number 3 on the now definitive list.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

... I still finished in the top 25%... despite sleeping 7 hours and riding like a snail after Aberhafesp...

The point is that if I was less fit, I'd probably not get involved with the fast guys at the front, would be able to pace myself better and enjoy the second part more... There is no mad rush for speed other than at the very front.

Whenever I've been involved in events with a distinct lack of speed at the front, I've been able to pace myself a lot better. National 400 2017, looking at Strava I averaged 26 km/h up to Aberystwith (or whatever the spelling is) and 27.5 after... so much better pacing.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: mattc on April 25, 2020, 04:17:03 pm
I’ve long thought that a rider needs most (but not necessarily all) of five things for success in brevets. In no particular order, they are:
- Ability (naturally talented folk can easily ride fast enough to finish in time, despite losing time to incidents or faffing. Other folk, not so much)
- Fitness (training on the bike or otherwise to make the most of your natural talents, lack of illness)
- Preparation/ experience (understanding the demands of the event on machine and rider, including understanding the route)
- Determination (deciding to finish ‘come what may’ and actually following through in a pinch is worth a lot)
- Luck (at crucial points of the ride, including assistance by fellow riders, weather and so on)

Having all five makes finishing even tough brevets look trivial. Lacking one or even two of the five doesn’t really stop a rider finishing a brevet and often makes for a better story afterwards. Lacking three or more is almost certainly a DNF.
I prefer this analysis to the "what is most important" approach. You need a number of things at a decent "level".
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: vorsprung on April 26, 2020, 09:55:40 pm
depends what you mean by "long distance"
to some people that's tcr to others it's another 200 for rrty
quite different things
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: quixoticgeek on April 27, 2020, 03:11:08 am

Sat in a radio studio of a local community radio station. I'd just explained what I'd been through on a race. The interviewer, he starts a sentence, then stutters. I know that look, I know where he's going with this.

"You don't look like a cyclist." Is what he eventually comes out with.

"You mean I'm fat"

"I was trying to be polite"

My BMI is over 30. I am fat. A lot of that is muscle, working in a brewery has left me with a surprising (to others at least) amount of strength, tho it's starting to reduce a bit now. The problem is, lugging 100+kg of fat dyke up hills is a hard. *really* hard. I think I may find that had I started audaxing in the UK, I would have had a much much much higher DNF rate, and probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. Sure the Dutch mountains suck, but being fat doesn't massively make them harder. Nearly every time I interact with a medical professional, they tell me to get more exercise, very rarely do they ask what exercise I am already getting first. It's becoming a bit of a joke now. Even at the lightest I've been in recent years, my BMI was 31.8. That was in my first year of audaxing, when I lost 15kg in about 10 months.

Usually within the first 10 km or so I am riding on my own, I may cross paths with a few others at controls, but with a few exceptions, I'm riding alone. With even fewer exceptions, I'm the last rider to finish each time too. I think there is a certain element of being able to be comfortable with riding alone, really alone, in many respects audaxing is solo riding in loose formation, tho for some of us, it's a lot more solo than others.

Having the knowledge, skills, tools, and confidence to fix stuff at the side of the road is under appreciated. I've taken my brakes apart under a tree at the side of the road in the dark in Germany. Knowing that if I screw up, I'm going to be rather fucked, but that if I don't, I'm also going to be pretty fucked. Having seen the bikes people bring into the shop, with the faults they have, having riden past riders getting picked up due to mechanicals, I'm starting to realise that actually very few people are confident to fettle much on their bike beyond fixing flats.

Finally, something I've learned the hardway, and something we perhaps don't mention to newbies enough: eating. Exerting for long periods of time, at high output levels is a challenge for the gut, and it's something we typically leave out of our training plans. You go for the training ride, then come home and have dinner. You don't tend to do it the other way round. I'm trying to work out how to fix this, my digestive system just seems to shut down when I start to really push, making it hard to put out any power. Fortunately I do have several ten's of thousands of kcal of energy stores to draw upon, but it's not a comfortable experience.

J
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 27, 2020, 06:34:19 am

 Nearly every time I interact with a medical professional, they tell me to get more exercise, very rarely do they ask what exercise I am already getting first. It's becoming a bit of a joke now. Even at the lightest I've been in recent years, my BMI was 31.8. That was in my first year of audaxing, when I lost 15kg in about 10 months.


They always recommend generic exercise as a form of weight loss. It never really worked like that for me. I recall finishing the Raid Pyrenees 2 kg heavier than when I started, despite cycling 6-7 hours a day on very hilly terrain.
Audax hasn't helped lose pounds at all, if anything, I would be heavier as a result of overeating after and snacking during.

Training, so shorter but more intense, seems to result in significant weight loss, simply because I don't tend to over eat to compensate afterwards.
Of course we are all different and with our own metabolism, but it would be helpful if there was some kind of quick metabolic test that one could do to work out what type of exercise is best to lose weight and of course medical professionals could draw upon it to advise.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 27, 2020, 09:16:21 am
I didn't properly lose weight until I started structured training.   I used to just ride and then ride further without looking at intensity.   A heart rate monitor solved that.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Davef on April 27, 2020, 09:31:11 am
I find it interesting how hungry I am after different forms of exercise having burnt similar calories. I am always starving after swimming but after running not hungry at all. Cycling I would class  between the two.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Greenbank on April 27, 2020, 10:13:34 am
How much I ate during an Audax varied massively with my fitness and, more specifically, how well trained my metabolism was.

On my first 200 I was starving at the first control (50km), despite having breakfast before leaving, and ate well at the subsequent controls (100km, 150km) and after the ride itself. I certainly consumed more calories that day than I expended.

Compare that to when my fat metabolism was far better trained such as on a DIY 200 where I had no breakfast, just got a cashpoint receipt at the 50km control, bought some food at the 110km control and stuffed it into the bag, and ate it at the 160km control (where I bought some other food) and then ended up at home (where I ate the remaining food). Calorie deficit for the day was easily > 1000kcal.

Or PBP where I had a baguette at the 140km control and then the first proper food at the 220km control.

When I'm in that kind of state Audaxing is almost always good for weight loss via a sizeable calorie deficit. On LEL I put on 1kg during the ride (comparing pre-ride weight with weight the day after finishing) but that was just my body in an odd state of water retention, within a few days it had settled down to a 2kg weight loss that stayed off.

Fitness and metabolism go hand in hand. It's a bit of a simplification but there's only a certain amount of energy your body can extract from mostly fat (you still need some carbs to fuel this process).  A more well trained metabolism can extract slightly more, or at less of a cost to the carb store, but not by a huge amount. The fitter you are, in terms of cardiovascular efficiency, and lighter you are helps, the lower the demands of your body to go at a certain speed.

It took me many years to go from Audaxing whilst eating everything in sight to Audaxing (well, 200s at least) whilst almost forgetting to eat. Also not destroying the fridge or the local take away when finishing or on subsequent days.

I'm on my way back to it now, mostly through running (especially now in lockdown, but before that swimming was second best) and exercise mostly acts as an appetite suppressant for me. I can go out for a run feeling starving (since I often do runs up to HM distance on an empty stomach) and spend the first 10 minutes thinking about what I'm going to eat but by the end of it I don't feel hungry and don't eat for many hours (except for a dose of protein via chocolate milk to aid recovery and help stave off sniffles). Shorter/faster exercise seems to be a faster route to improved metabolism than long (relatively) slow Audaxing/riding.

I've still got plenty of energy reserves. I'm 17kg heavier than I was when I did LEL and even then I was probably 6kg heavier than I should be. (Losing 17kg from now would still only get me to a BMI of 25)

Finally, something I've learned the hardway, and something we perhaps don't mention to newbies enough: eating. Exerting for long periods of time, at high output levels is a challenge for the gut, and it's something we typically leave out of our training plans. You go for the training ride, then come home and have dinner. You don't tend to do it the other way round. I'm trying to work out how to fix this, my digestive system just seems to shut down when I start to really push, making it hard to put out any power. Fortunately I do have several ten's of thousands of kcal of energy stores to draw upon, but it's not a comfortable experience.

The biggest problem I had in my half-arsed 24 a few years back is that I hadn't anywhere near enough training at all, let alone Audaxing, and so my body just failed to get enough energy out. It wasn't about being able to put the energy in (although I made a few mistakes in that itself). Tummy troubles, empty legs, and then the apathy hit, but it was still "fun".
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 27, 2020, 10:38:21 am
I take the view that if you are that much overweight, so on the BMI 30 line or over, then you should get thoroughly checked before doing things like LEL.
I don't think you can have such high body fat and be completely healthy, from the cardiovascular point of view... in other words we are not bears or sea lions who can thrive with large amounts of body fat.
If you don't get thoroughly checked, then you are taking some serious risks, by doing very long distance stuff
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Rod Marton on April 27, 2020, 12:16:08 pm
I hope everyone is aware that BMI is a highly flawed measure, in my opinion so highly flawed as to be next to useless. The only reason it continues to be used is that it is easy to determine, and the medical profession seem to prefer measures that are easy rather than meaningful (they aren't alone in this). There are a number of better measures of body composition around, but require rather more equipment/calculation to determine so aren't used extensively. So please take all BMI values with a handful of salt.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: IJL on April 27, 2020, 12:20:20 pm
I take the view that if you are that much overweight, so on the BMI 30 line or over, then you should get thoroughly checked before doing things like LEL.
I don't think you can have such high body fat and be completely healthy, from the cardiovascular point of view... in other words we are not bears or sea lions who can thrive with large amounts of body fat.
If you don't get thoroughly checked, then you are taking some serious risks, by doing very long distance stuff

It's worth pointing out that BMI is little more than a "rule of thumb" its quick and simple, but it assumes an average muscle mass for age, sex and height and then assumes that any mass above this must be fat. 

Used properly its a good tool but its doesn't work for everyone

(need to type quicker)
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Kim on April 27, 2020, 12:36:38 pm

 Nearly every time I interact with a medical professional, they tell me to get more exercise, very rarely do they ask what exercise I am already getting first. It's becoming a bit of a joke now. Even at the lightest I've been in recent years, my BMI was 31.8. That was in my first year of audaxing, when I lost 15kg in about 10 months.


They always recommend generic exercise as a form of weight loss. It never really worked like that for me. I recall finishing the Raid Pyrenees 2 kg heavier than when I started, despite cycling 6-7 hours a day on very hilly terrain.
Audax hasn't helped lose pounds at all, if anything, I would be heavier as a result of overeating after and snacking during.

I find that lots of cycling can lead to weight loss, simply because exercise turns off my appetite and I eat less.  Unfortunately, this isn't conducive to endurance riding, where I have to eat by numbers in spite of not really wanting to.  Sometimes this goes horribly wrong.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: eddum on April 27, 2020, 12:45:49 pm
depends what you mean by "long distance"
to some people that's tcr to others it's another 200 for rrty
quite different things

uh well that was kind of the point... list all the things that help and then think about how the relative importance changes as distance varies.
everything we do is long distance by normal standards.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: quixoticgeek on April 27, 2020, 01:02:16 pm
I take the view that if you are that much overweight, so on the BMI 30 line or over, then you should get thoroughly checked before doing things like LEL.
I don't think you can have such high body fat and be completely healthy, from the cardiovascular point of view... in other words we are not bears or sea lions who can thrive with large amounts of body fat.
If you don't get thoroughly checked, then you are taking some serious risks, by doing very long distance stuff

Yep, I am checked regularly, including bloods every 6 months. Don't worry on that one. Every doctor I've seen doesn't quite understand how I can be as fit as I am, when I'm as fat as I am.

J

J
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: bairn again on April 27, 2020, 01:08:15 pm
I’ve long thought that a rider needs most (but not necessarily all) of five things for success in brevets. In no particular order, they are:
- Ability (naturally talented folk can easily ride fast enough to finish in time, despite losing time to incidents or faffing. Other folk, not so much)
- Fitness (training on the bike or otherwise to make the most of your natural talents, lack of illness)
- Preparation/ experience (understanding the demands of the event on machine and rider, including understanding the route)
- Determination (deciding to finish ‘come what may’ and actually following through in a pinch is worth a lot)
- Luck (at crucial points of the ride, including assistance by fellow riders, weather and so on)

Having all five makes finishing even tough brevets look trivial. Lacking one or even two of the five doesn’t really stop a rider finishing a brevet and often makes for a better story afterwards. Lacking three or more is almost certainly a DNF.

Yes I like this a lot as a “dashboard”. 

Got me thinking how much each element contributes to my audax rides. 

Id say determination is the biggest factor in establishing if I will finish an event or not....eg on The Flatlands last year my fitness and preparation were poor, resulting in me leaving Great Dunmow using the run in (dont ask!). 

By the time I realised I was heading NW and not NE Id punctured and did so again on my “catch up” ride before reaching the 1st control with about 5 mins to spare. 

So fitness, prep and luck were in short supply but I wasnt for giving up (PBP was a very effective motivator as are calendar events to a lesser extent). 

I contrast that with the days when Im feeling in fine fettle and nothing is especially wrong, but  I know that my heart just isnt it that day. 
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: FifeingEejit on April 27, 2020, 03:11:45 pm
The paradox is that if I was less fit, I'd be better at long distance.
The problem is that I tend to go too hard, so I typically pay a heavy price on long brevets.

Day one of the BCM I averaged 27-28 km/h moving speed, day two was more like 20... just spent, with no energy. I've tried many times to ride slower at the start, but inevitably I get carried away and end up in the fast peloton, rolling out at 32-35 km/h for the first hour or two...
I guess that's what I enjoy to do and should probably give up on anything longer than a 200 or an easy 300.
You paced yourself incorrectly for your level of fitness. If you were less fit you would probably do the same. That is down to experience/preparation - number 3 on the now definitive list.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

... I still finished in the top 25%... despite sleeping 7 hours and riding like a snail after Aberhafesp...

The point is that if I was less fit, I'd probably not get involved with the fast guys at the front, would be able to pace myself better and enjoy the second part more... There is no mad rush for speed other than at the very front.

Whenever I've been involved in events with a distinct lack of speed at the front, I've been able to pace myself a lot better. National 400 2017, looking at Strava I averaged 26 km/h up to Aberystwith (or whatever the spelling is) and 27.5 after... so much better pacing.
A large part of that is in the head.
Knowing you can't hold the fast pace at the front and backing off to set your own pace at what you can do the distance in.

There is also knowing what you can do at your current fitness level and on the terrain.

If you are fit enough to do the distance then pacing is a mental issue not a fitness one.

This is particularly evident when you spend a period of time considerably less fit than you used to be.

I know I can hold 30k on a flattish course if I train for it, I know I can do a 300 at 25kmh if I'm trained for it, but last year I was nowhere near that because I wasn't training for speed.
Now I'm trying to come back from injury, was bucked after riding 70km at 25kmh on a flattish route and had left most of the climbs for the last leg.
Not letting the "but these hills are easy ones" in to my thoughts helped, but I know they're not easy ones when unfit.

Sent from my BKL-L09 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Bolt on April 27, 2020, 11:54:46 pm
Finally, something I've learned the hardway, and something we perhaps don't mention to newbies enough: eating. Exerting for long periods of time, at high output levels is a challenge for the gut, and it's something we typically leave out of our training plans. You go for the training ride, then come home and have dinner. You don't tend to do it the other way round. I'm trying to work out how to fix this, my digestive system just seems to shut down when I start to really push, making it hard to put out any power. Fortunately I do have several ten's of thousands of kcal of energy stores to draw upon, but it's not a comfortable experience.
J
Having suffered from digestive trauma during long rides in the past I've experimented with loading my saddlebag with enough food to see me through a ride without having to resort to chance offerings from petrol stations and convenience stores. For sure there's the initial weight penalty of carrying all that fodder, but I think this is outweighed by being able to eat little and often something that appeals to your taste.  Last year I rode a 600 fuelled on a loaf of sliced bread made up into sandwiches with a selection of my favourite fillings, supplemented by a large bag of peanuts and managed to finish the ride with a few sandwiches to spare.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 08:14:45 am
A large part of that is in the head.
Knowing you can't hold the fast pace at the front and backing off to set your own pace at what you can do the distance in.

There is also knowing what you can do at your current fitness level and on the terrain.


Yeah, my head is not thinking straight... if there is a breakaway, I need to be there, even just so that I get to the control first and don't need to queue...  ;D

I always finished all brevets, so it's not a case of DNF, but obviously puts me off doing any more long ones...
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 08:27:11 am
I hope everyone is aware that BMI is a highly flawed measure, in my opinion so highly flawed as to be next to useless. The only reason it continues to be used is that it is easy to determine, and the medical profession seem to prefer measures that are easy rather than meaningful (they aren't alone in this). There are a number of better measures of body composition around, but require rather more equipment/calculation to determine so aren't used extensively. So please take all BMI values with a handful of salt.

Yes, of course...
Within reason... if you plot the data for Anthony Joshua, you get a BMI of 27.5... but it's also true there aren't many people who are built like a heavyweight boxer and even among heavyweight boxers, those with a BMI > 30 are overweight.
In lower divisions, you will find that they are all well within a BMI of 25... Floyd Mayweather was 22.7.

So, even the notion that a very muscular build results in high BMI is somewhat false.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Davef on April 28, 2020, 09:06:14 am
At 6’6” Joshua is abnormally tall. At that extreme bmi really needs to adjusted down slightly, so even if of normal musculature it would be expected to be slightly higher. For people that are abnormally short it needs to be adjusted up. It is a good fit on average for people of non extreme height.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: vorsprung on April 28, 2020, 09:43:20 am
depends what you mean by "long distance"
to some people that's tcr to others it's another 200 for rrty
quite different things

uh well that was kind of the point... list all the things that help and then think about how the relative importance changes as distance varies.
everything we do is long distance by normal standards.

it's more complicated than that
to a club rider, 50 miles / 100km isn't a long way it's an afternoons ride
but plenty of riders of this sort have never ridden > 300km
the most common cycling challenge that normal people do is the LE JoG which is 1400km over several days

so non-audax people (never mind the tcr lot) ride distances

the factors that affect success on long rides also vary by distance

200km (on an easy event, not a AAA monster) can be ridden by almost anyone with enough determination.  Slow people might be out of time.  The bottom might hurt.  But you will make it
300km I've know more than one club rider do the first half easily but then really get into trouble in the last 50km because of bad pacing
400km sleep is a problem more than pacing
600km is easier than 400km because there is a sleep opportunity.  Provided you are brisk.  Being brisk means don't waste time at controls
1000km is usually a sleep / eat battle. 
1200km I've only done PBP at this distance and it's been different every time.  Difficult to say what the real problem is. 
1400km Only done LEL and again, went differently each time

if I was to make a list of the 3 factors I'd say determination, pacing and not wasting time at controls (or stopped or faffing)
At low distances determination is most important
Then as the distance increases it's pacing
Then as it gets longer still it's not wasting time

At even longer distances avoiding sleep debt seems like a good idea
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 09:55:59 am

400km sleep is a problem more than pacing


400 is a funny distance, because it splits the field between those who are back at bed time and those who need a sleep stop or have to carry on through the night.
Typically, organisers cater for the latter. I was a bit annoyed when last year at Brevet Cymru Mark said the final control was only going to open at 6 AM... I was planning to be there around midnight and with an overnight temperature around the freezing point, I was left with no (sensible) option, other than DNS.
I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling 400 km is long enough, without having to suffer even after that.

It seems to be a common occurrence among organisers to plan events looking at the back of the field... same for sending riders on dual carriageways, with no sensible alternatives, because it's going to be at night... how about me and the others who are there at 5 PM?
This is particularly evident in 400 events, because of such split
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: vorsprung on April 28, 2020, 10:32:12 am

400km sleep is a problem more than pacing

I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling ... for sending riders on dual carriageways, with no sensible alternatives, because it's going to be at night... how about me and the others who are there at 5 PM?

Overcoming these sorts of problems is usually done with planning ahead, such as figuring out accommodation at the end ahead of time or a better route for the time of day on tricky roads
You can't "blame" the organiser for designing the event to follow a particular cadence and then it not working for you

Sorry if that sounds a bit grumpy but it's just the nature of how events are
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: JonB on April 28, 2020, 10:38:27 am

400km sleep is a problem more than pacing


400 is a funny distance, because it splits the field between those who are back at bed time and those who need a sleep stop or have to carry on through the night.
Typically, organisers cater for the latter. I was a bit annoyed when last year at Brevet Cymru Mark said the final control was only going to open at 6 AM... I was planning to be there around midnight and with an overnight temperature around the freezing point, I was left with no (sensible) option, other than DNS.
I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling 400 km is long enough, without having to suffer even after that.
There was the option to get a receipt from the 24 hour garage around the corner and post it through the door of the community centre with the Brevet Card which is what we did (not at midnight though, more like 5:00 AM) and this was made clear before the start.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Ian H on April 28, 2020, 10:39:01 am
In my experience the key is, if you want to finish you will finish.  Pretty much.


At even longer distances avoiding sleep debt seems like a good idea


The longest event I have ridden is the 2500km version of Calais-Brindisi.  The distance was increased to give a minimum of 200k per day (now computed as an overall speed). 
200k a day isn't too bad, although I had to deal with a brand-new, untested routesheet, an Alp and other steep bits, and a falling-off muscle injury which took a couple of days to mend.  But I ended up in Brindisi as planned, wondering what to do next.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 10:41:39 am

400km sleep is a problem more than pacing

I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling ... for sending riders on dual carriageways, with no sensible alternatives, because it's going to be at night... how about me and the others who are there at 5 PM?

Overcoming these sorts of problems is usually done with planning ahead, such as figuring out accommodation at the end ahead of time or a better route for the time of day on tricky roads
You can't "blame" the organiser for designing the event to follow a particular cadence and then it not working for you

Sorry if that sounds a bit grumpy but it's just the nature of how events are

I think the event route should suit both faster and slower riders, therefore dual carriageways and busy A roads should be avoided regardless of the time of the day.
In my event, I have deliberately avoided all main roads, although riders at the back could probably use a couple of them safely... it's their call, the official route crosses them but don't go onto them.

As for the accommodation at the end... well, that's an extra cost that wasn't planned. The assumption was that the final control would open at the time it should open (10 PM or so), it's only a couple of weeks before the event that we were notified of the late opening. Anyway, it's a minor rant just to prove my point that in a 400 typically slower riders are given priority when planning and the others will have to make do.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: telstarbox on April 28, 2020, 10:55:54 am
The organiser's handbook says:

Quote
In considering the timing of your event, remember that Audax UK events may be ridden by riders of widely varying abilities. Particularly with long events this means that riders will be riding the same section of the route at varying times.

Your route should not disadvantage either faster or slower riders (e.g. through forcing slower riders to negotiate heavy traffic which a faster rider would avoid or limiting control options). If in doubt plan for the slowest riders – they are invariably the ones who require the most support.

It does seem a reasonable assumption that faster riders will be more confident/experienced and able to adapt to difficult conditions, although this won't apply to every fast rider.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 28, 2020, 10:57:12 am
When I organised I tried to design routes around the average rider so main roads overnight and lanes in daylight for a rider that would be in the 20-24hr window for a 400.

Of course a couple of people would get round in 16hrs and complain about gnarly lanes in the dark, to which my response was ride a bit slower.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 11:03:29 am


It does seem a reasonable assumption that faster riders will be more confident/experienced and able to adapt to difficult conditions, although this won't apply to every fast rider.

Dunno, hitting the 3 lane roundabout at Jct. 16 on the M4, having to take the third exit was not thought out that carefully, for those getting there around 5 PM... I tell ya...
I am sure those who got there after 7 PM had an easier time, trying to avoid getting killed!

Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 28, 2020, 11:16:31 am

400km sleep is a problem more than pacing

I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling ... for sending riders on dual carriageways, with no sensible alternatives, because it's going to be at night... how about me and the others who are there at 5 PM?

Overcoming these sorts of problems is usually done with planning ahead, such as figuring out accommodation at the end ahead of time or a better route for the time of day on tricky roads
You can't "blame" the organiser for designing the event to follow a particular cadence and then it not working for you

Sorry if that sounds a bit grumpy but it's just the nature of how events are

I think the event route should suit both faster and slower riders, therefore dual carriageways and busy A roads should be avoided regardless of the time of the day.
In my event, I have deliberately avoided all main roads, although riders at the back could probably use a couple of them safely... it's their call, the official route crosses them but don't go onto them.

As for the accommodation at the end... well, that's an extra cost that wasn't planned. The assumption was that the final control would open at the time it should open (10 PM or so), it's only a couple of weeks before the event that we were notified of the late opening. Anyway, it's a minor rant just to prove my point that in a 400 typically slower riders are given priority when planning and the others will have to make do.
I'm a little concerned about the concept of tiding 400km, and then driving anywhere before sleeping.
The reason why the finish control isn't open is because Mark is still busy at the previous control
You could post your card through the door, even without proof of time  it would prove you were there within time limits.
Faster riders can slow down, but slower riders cannot speed up, so it makes sense to bias organisation towards them.
Although I agree you shouldn't be forced onto dual carriageways .
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 28, 2020, 11:23:30 am


It does seem a reasonable assumption that faster riders will be more confident/experienced and able to adapt to difficult conditions, although this won't apply to every fast rider.

Dunno, hitting the 3 lane roundabout at Jct. 16 on the M4, having to take the third exit was not thought out that carefully, for those getting there around 5 PM... I tell ya...
I am sure those who got there after 7 PM had an easier time, trying to avoid getting killed!
Or you could have crossed the road,  gone one exit anti clockwise on the pavement and avoided the roundabout altogether as I did when I got there at 19.30
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Ajax Bay on April 28, 2020, 11:27:45 am
Quality post by @LWaB above.
I could have got a room somewhere ($$$) or slept in the smallest car on the market, but to be honest cycling ... for sending riders on dual carriageways, with no sensible alternatives, because it's going to be at night... how about me and the others who are there at 5 PM?

As for the accommodation at the end... well, that's an extra cost that wasn't planned. The assumption was that the final control would open at the time it should open (10 PM or so), it's only a couple of weeks before the event that we were notified of the late opening. Anyway, it's a minor rant just to prove my point that in a 400 typically slower riders are given priority when planning and the others will have to make do.
On the Brevet Cymru 360 days ago, Mark (with Ritchie in support iirc) ran Llangattock at 350k. This offered just the same sleeping facilities as one could expect at Bulwark - I'm making the assumption that that's what you had planned to do: kip at the finish till morning (?before driving). The need to give tlc to all at Llangattock combined with balance of allocation of volunteer labour resources precluded opening Bulwark earlier. Previous years I have just ridden through to midnight (and used the CC letter box) but last year it was an easy call for me: warm up, feed and then get my head down for several hours in Llangattock and ride into the sunrise (just as bloody cold as at midnight though). End result: 404km completed by about 6am and rested enough to make my way home. @Jon B has pointed out that there was a 'receipt and post through letter-box' option offered by Mark for those who didn't want to hang around. I can only presume that the length of time you record you take for a 400 is important . . . . . . to you, enough for you to decide to DNS rather planning to sleep on the comfy mats at Llangattock.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 12:03:52 pm
@Jon B has pointed out that there was a 'receipt and post through letter-box' option offered by Mark for those who didn't want to hang around. I can only presume that the length of time you record you take for a 400 is important . . . . . . to you, enough for you to decide to DNS rather planning to sleep on the comfy mats at Llangattock.

No, can't care less what the stamps says, the issue is once I post my brevet card at 12 AM... what am I supposed to do? Sleep in my microscopic car while it's -2 outside? Drive home after 18 hours on the bike? Neither option was particularly appealing or safe...

I could have slept at the previous control and set off at 4 AM or so (at -2 degrees and with screaming legs), but I couldn't be bothered with that either.
I seem to recall enquiring about it and Mark said there were mattresses but no blankets...  :'(

I guess one could conclude that I lack in perseverance or something mentioned above...  ::-)

You'll be pleased to know I've decided to call it a day on 400 or longer brevets
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: S2L on April 28, 2020, 12:22:58 pm


Another potential solution would have been to grab an hour's kip at Llangattock, post your brevet card through the letterbox at Bulwark and ECE home, rounding it up to a nice 600km. Which, if you listen to common wisdom, is easier than a 400km anyway!  :thumbsup: ;D

 :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: bairn again on April 28, 2020, 01:04:35 pm
Ive long believed that the very fastest riders have a tendency to favour 400km DIYs over calendar events as a quick rider can batter round in daylight in a way that many others just cant. 

Pretty much any audax event (but especially those 400k upwards) will force organisers to make tricky decisions and trade offs.

Most will tend to try and find a sweet spot for the majority but when faced with an issue where its full value riders v. fast riders (eg determining a start time to dovetail with ferry crossings) the former will be given priority for obvious reasons.

Thats why organising or helping at an event is such a good idea, appreciating audax events from a slightly different perspective definitely improves ones audaxability  :thumbsup: as it will provide a more ready answer to the question “Why did the organiser do *that*?” that Im sure we all experience from time to time when riding an event. 

Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Ian H on April 28, 2020, 02:19:25 pm
Having ridden many 400s at widely varying speeds, I can't say I have had many problems with controls or sleep facilities.  I tend to just get on with it.  There was one (Welsh one) where I started to feel very rough early on, to the point where my mojo was about to flee.  But two old friends towed me round, ignoring my swearing and laughing at my general lack of humour.

Planning my Exeter-London 400, I reluctantly decided on a noon start and surprised myself by how easily it went. Even as an organiser's ride, stopping to write routesheet information and adjusting the route on the fly, I still finished in around 21hrs.  The following year, riding with a friend for whom it was the first time at the distance, I was a bit slower, but quite comfortable.  A 15 min doze propped against a gate sufficed for sleep.

I haven't done many 600s without a few hours in a bed part-way round, but I can if required.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: Wycombewheeler on April 28, 2020, 03:00:36 pm
My quickest 400km (total time) or 3rd quickest (moving time). I found the time worked well, allowed for a comfortable journey to the start with no accomodation, daylight in all the interesting bits, and then quiet roads in the approach to London.

Deginatelynone I'd do again.
Title: Re: Audaxability
Post by: rob on April 28, 2020, 03:10:05 pm
Ive long believed that the very fastest riders have a tendency to favour 400km DIYs over calendar events as a quick rider can batter round in daylight in a way that many others just cant. 

Pretty much any audax event (but especially those 400k upwards) will force organisers to make tricky decisions and trade offs.

Most will tend to try and find a sweet spot for the majority but when faced with an issue where its full value riders v. fast riders (eg determining a start time to dovetail with ferry crossings) the former will be given priority for obvious reasons.

Thats why organising or helping at an event is such a good idea, appreciating audax events from a slightly different perspective definitely improves ones audaxability  :thumbsup: as it will provide a more ready answer to the question “Why did the organiser do *that*?” that Im sure we all experience from time to time when riding an event.

On the 400 I ran there was an 11 hour spread between the first and last riders back.   It was a long slog.  To make it harder it was figure-of-8 and the last rider to leave went out the door about 2am and the first back was in at 4.   There wasn't a lot of sleep going on amongst the 3 of us working in the hall.

I think X rated rides cater much better for faster riders.   I used to enjoy the Asparagus and Strawberries as I would be back for breakfast and could catch the first train back to town.   These days I book a hotel near the finish and can be back in bed by 2am.   I then pootle down to the finish on the morning, hand my card in, and have breakfast.