Author Topic: Audax in the media  (Read 2901 times)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Audax in the media
« on: March 04, 2019, 05:56:36 pm »
Good piece on Audax on the Daily Telegraph web site today, featuring several occasional visitors to these parts.  It's behind the paywall, but....


HARDER, BETTER, SLOWER, STRONGER - THE RISE OF AUDAX CYCLING

Once every four years, an international event comes along that gets the cycling community buzzing. No, not the Olympics (that's far too mainstream) – I'm talking about Paris-Brest-Paris.

This legendary 1,200km event sees thousands of cyclists ride out from the Parisian suburbs to the town of Brest, on the west coast of France, and back again, all in the space of 90 hours or less. It's a low-key festival of amateur endurance cycling, and interest in recent years has been growing, with entrants rising from 3,500 for the 1999 edition to 6,000 for the last outing in 2015.

Indeed, the climbing participation rates are reflected in the wider world of organised long-distance cycling, known as 'audax', from the Latin for ‘bold’ or ‘audacious’ because of the distances undertaken. Membership of Audax UK, the long-distance cycling association, increased by eight per cent last year, and 11 per cent the year before.

With audax rides typically covering 200km, 400km and 600km (at 1,200km, Paris-Brest-Paris represents the outer limit of distance) and participants often riding for two or more days without sleeping, it all begs the question: why are cyclists getting hooked on these gargantuan undertakings?

"For me, it’s a way of getting to see places by bike I wouldn’t otherwise have gone to," says Judith Swallow, a multiple PBP veteranwho has covered more than 300,000 miles by bike. Her answer is typical of many audax riders, in that she cites the joy of riding, rather than a competitive element, as fundamental to her enjoyment of the challenges.

That sets audax apart from sportives – the shorter, five-or-so hour organised rides that are known for being fiercely contested and just a little bit elbow-y (the 100 mile Ride London being a good example). Where sportives are shorter and sharper, audax are more genteel and understated, with added cake. They are not races, although distances do need to be completed within a maximum time. Riders make their way between checkpoints using a suggested route and have cards stamped at each point to authenticate their entry.

At the end, instead of going home with a bag of leaflets and energy bar samples, you get a fully stamped card, a sense of achievement, and – if you're lucky – a badge.

Despite not originating here in the UK, audax has the feeling of being terribly British. "Audax does have the image of being a little quirky and old-fashioned and I think it quite likes that and feels no reason to change," says Jo Burt, author and illustrator of Longer Rides, a handbook for longer distances published by Bluetrain for Rapha. But nobody should be fooled by the convivial image. Audax is as tough as it gets.

"At the top end of some of the distances I’ve done I wonder whether it’s all worth it – but in the end it absolutely always is," says Grace Lambert-Smith, a freelance writer, PBP entrant and Super Randonneur (a rider who has completed 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k distances in one season). "Every audax has a challenge, whether it’s the weather, terrain, riding alone, riding with others and trying to hold their wheel, battling sleep demons or just trying to remember that you don’t hate cycling."

Ah yes, sleep demons. For the longer distances, completing the ride within the allotted time means most will have to cycle through at least part of the night, stopping for quick naps at the most. "The longest audax I’ve ridden is 600km from Hailsham to Wales and back," says Burt, recalling a ride that took just over 29 hours. "Wales in the middle of the night is interesting. I hallucinated a dinosaur eating a tree before it disappeared in a puff of smoke, fell asleep on the bike soon after and napped face down on a roadside verge."

Because audax puts people to the test, the community is notoriously friendly. "Every ride feels like a reunion of old friends," says Dr Eleanor Jaskowska, a biologist who competed in the Transcontinental Race two years ago. "During the 1,000km Mille Cymru we had everything from blazing sunshine to hypothermia, but we rode around as a club and it was a real demonstration of being stronger as part of a team, because we carried each other emotionally through the ups and downs."

It’s not just friendships that are made in the world of audax. Ella Wredenfors first met her boyfriend Luke Windsor at the tail end of a 400k. "There’s something reassuring about beginning a relationship with someone whose first experience of you is at your best and worst – when you’ve been both strong and resilient, but also a stinking crazed exhausted mess," she says.

The mental aspect can be just as difficult as the physical, involving getting one’s head around the idea of being on a bike all day and all night, and audax are self-supporting so entrants need to carry everything they need with them or stop to acquire it – mainly food and tools for mechanicals. "In a world where a lot of cycling is posturing and ‘epic’, there’s a satisfying amount of 'just getting on with it' to an audax," says Burt. "It seems to favour a more mature self-sufficient rider that doesn’t need their hand holding all the way around a route".

Gavin Peacock, 48, began riding audax after what he describes as "a proper MAMIL midlife crisis and needing to look after myself better." This year he will compete in the Transcontinental for the second time. "My personality tends towards introversion so long distance riding with periods of being alone doesn’t faze me, and it does me good emotionally and mentally. It’s good for emptying the head and refocusing the mind."

Riding audax: the basics

Find a ride:Search Audax UK for calendar events and enter online through Pay Pal or pop an entry form and a cheque in the post for the nostalgia

Read: Longer Rides, by Jo Burt, will tell you everything you need to know and make you fall in love with the world of distance riding

Ride: Anything, really, but if you want the full experience go for a steel-framed adventure bike like the All Seasons from ISEN Workshops. Or for the brave, a fixed-wheel from Temple Cycles

Wear: Layers! Merino from Finisterre, and check out Morvelo and Rapha, Liv Cycling for women’s kit and Anna’s Legs from VeloVixen.com for the best cycling leggings ever made

Use: A Wahoo, reputedly better than a Garmin for audax routes

Carry: A Carradice saddlebag for the traditionalists, or try bikepacking luggage such as Apidura or smaller bits and bobs from Liv

Eat: Cake, of course! Fuel up at the checkpoints, and make sure you carry snacks
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2019, 06:10:52 pm »
interesting choice on the Bike computer, speaking as a Wahoo user !!

however I think that is an excellent read, does not paint us as some kind of Weirdo (I presume everyone saw the excellent coverage of LWL in the Guardian last year) and I am so glad I found it last year !

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2019, 07:48:28 pm »
Over egging the sleep angle. Burt had an additional 11 hours he could have used to sleep. Most on PBP will sleep. But otherwise good little article.

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2019, 08:11:54 pm »
Seven new members since 8.30am this morning - might this be related?
The numbers are too small to draw any statistical conclusions but that's 400% up on last Monday!
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2019, 08:35:04 pm »
Seven new members since 8.30am this morning - might this be related?
The numbers are too small to draw any statistical conclusions but that's 400% up on last Monday!

Depends - I don't think the article appeared until about 10.00  ;)
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 09:24:33 pm »
At the foot of the Telegraph article it has:

"Related topics: Sleep"

;D
You're only as successful as your last 1200...

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2019, 10:03:42 pm »
The article that made me laugh was on the Ride of The Falling Rain, described as "Audaxer riders turned up and were shocked at how low key and spartan it was".

Which was overdoing it a bit.  The main issue was no route sheet, but when the basic premise is to ride every road on a small island, you can get away without
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small just Far Away at the back
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2019, 10:42:08 pm »
The article that made me laugh was on the Ride of The Falling Rain, described as "Audaxer riders turned up and were shocked at how low key and spartan it was".

Which was overdoing it a bit.  The main issue was no route sheet, but when the basic premise is to ride every road on a small island, you can get away without

What's more, you can smell the controls. Although the risks of over-partaking in their wares may require some time to sober up.

billy crystal

  • aka hillbilly
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2019, 09:52:50 am »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2019, 10:33:08 am »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.

I think you are right, although I for one, started Audax because it was an organised way of riding further than I would have done on my own.   So, as a novice, I might have been attracted by the article.

It was when I got to riding further that I discovered a different sense of 'oneness' with the world - often as I'm riding the joy is of experiences from different rides fusing together - for examples various bits of 'Wessex' connecting events from different times and different emotional states - from the exhilaration of a descent on a summer evening, to the loneliness of riding up the same hill in the darkness of the early hours wondering why the overnight control is not around the corner.  That sense of connection brings reason to things that otherwise would have made no sense.  Those experiences, I think, are very personal, and not easy to synthesize within the bounds of a newspaper article.  Maybe its mental food for an Arrivee article?
Eddington Numbers 124 (imperial), 168 (metric) 517 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2019, 10:44:04 am »
When an activity can do this: "I hallucinated a dinosaur eating a tree before it disappeared in a puff of smoke" and you are on public roads, I would worry that such coverage leads to (some) outcry, less sympathy for long distance riders killed/injured and some kind of attempt at clampdown or control.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2019, 11:07:28 am »
I think there's a fairly high overlap between audaxers and recreational drug use.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2019, 12:05:28 pm »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.

I think you are right, although I for one, started Audax because it was an organised way of riding further than I would have done on my own.   So, as a novice, I might have been attracted by the article.

It was when I got to riding further that I discovered a different sense of 'oneness' with the world - often as I'm riding the joy is of experiences from different rides fusing together - for examples various bits of 'Wessex' connecting events from different times and different emotional states - from the exhilaration of a descent on a summer evening, to the loneliness of riding up the same hill in the darkness of the early hours wondering why the overnight control is not around the corner.  That sense of connection brings reason to things that otherwise would have made no sense.  Those experiences, I think, are very personal, and not easy to synthesize within the bounds of a newspaper article.  Maybe its mental food for an Arrivee article?

Both valid perspectives and, as suggested, worthy of an Arrivee article or two.  Interestingly, there's an article in the forthcoming issue from an AUK who writes about how he relishes the solitude on some rides.  It's a couple of months before the deadline for the next issue, so get writing!
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2019, 12:14:52 pm »
I didn't like the sentence that derided Garmins in favour of Wahoos. Nothing wrong with Garmins, they work very well indeed.

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2019, 12:40:31 pm »
I do quite like the phrase
"notoriously friendly"

it somehow suggests that audax is a friendly community, but a lot of people are rightly unhappy about this.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

billy crystal

  • aka hillbilly
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2019, 01:41:24 pm »
Notorious B.I.G.  (British, Introverted, Getting on a bit in years)
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2019, 01:58:51 pm »


It's an interesting article. It's a bit too anglo-centric, as one might expect. I find it amusing that it seems to interview half my twitter feed...

I agree with the points regarding hallucinations. At a time when long and ultra long distance cycling is under a more watchful eye than normal, hilighting what is ultimately a bit careless behaviour seems suboptimal.

J

--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2019, 03:36:28 pm »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.

You've hit the nail on the head! I find cycling long distance zen like, even through the ups and downs, variable weather and sleep deprivation. When soloing whilst watching the world (or a country) roll by I'm sifting through my real life worries, problems, challenges etc and putting them all in perspective; then they all disappear in a puff of smoke as the giraffes run across the road or a stone wall of painted ladies starts singing to me at the arse end of a 1000km in the early hours...

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2019, 10:46:29 pm »
It might have been nice to state that Audax doesn't publish times, two mentions of the Transcontinental Race might give the impression that Audax is competitive.

PBP isn't the outer limits of Audax distance, LEL is longer, and WAWA is a lot longer.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2019, 07:51:01 am »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.

I think you are right, although I for one, started Audax because it was an organised way of riding further than I would have done on my own.   So, as a novice, I might have been attracted by the article.

It was when I got to riding further that I discovered a different sense of 'oneness' with the world - often as I'm riding the joy is of experiences from different rides fusing together - for examples various bits of 'Wessex' connecting events from different times and different emotional states - from the exhilaration of a descent on a summer evening, to the loneliness of riding up the same hill in the darkness of the early hours wondering why the overnight control is not around the corner.  That sense of connection brings reason to things that otherwise would have made no sense.  Those experiences, I think, are very personal, and not easy to synthesize within the bounds of a newspaper article.  Maybe its mental food for an Arrivee article?

Both valid perspectives and, as suggested, worthy of an Arrivee article or two.  Interestingly, there's an article in the forthcoming issue from an AUK who writes about how he relishes the solitude on some rides.  It's a couple of months before the deadline for the next issue, so get writing!

Challenge accepted. Article drafted.  Will now leave it for a week and see if it does capture the ineffable experience of Audax.  Perfect antidote to editing a report on Client X’s IT strategy.
Eddington Numbers 124 (imperial), 168 (metric) 517 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2019, 09:04:43 am »
Challenge accepted. Article drafted.  Will now leave it for a week and see if it does capture the ineffable experience of Audax.  Perfect antidote to editing a report on Client X’s IT strategy.

 :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

billy crystal

  • aka hillbilly
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2019, 09:12:41 am »
I started drafting an article, but realised it would be better written as a prose poem.  Which I've set myself the task of doing.
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.

Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2019, 09:54:59 am »
Great stuff Billy and CET, I'll really look forward to those, or to just the possibility of them - no pressure!

Thanks for the various excellent posts.

Zed43

  • prefers UK hills over Dutch mountains
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2019, 10:01:02 am »
It might have been nice to state that Audax doesn't publish times
AudaxUK doesn't, but ACP does and so does Randonneurs NL; there may be others who do too.

It's still not a race.

Regarding hallucinations and severe sleep deprivation, just how prevalent is it amongst audax riders (and why would you subject yourself to such a thing when finishing with 11 hours in hand?)

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Audax in the media
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2019, 10:10:28 am »
Although understandable, I find articles that bang on about the rough and ready nature, the physical and psychological hardship, and what to consume increasingly tedious.  These are simply the mechanics of doing an event, not its experience.  An exercise in doing something extreme rather than a day of being profoundly human.

I wish more people would write about how cycling long-distances can transcend the sense of having to be the fastest, how it gives time to reflect and develop perspective by the time the ride is done, how it connects you to time passing and leaves you with impressions.  Some of my favourite life moments have been on audax events, usually in a moment of quiet as I ghosted through the countryside, absorbing what is around me.  Audax is unique because it offers these compensations for the undoubted challenge of turning the pedals for a long time.

I think you are right, although I for one, started Audax because it was an organised way of riding further than I would have done on my own.   So, as a novice, I might have been attracted by the article.

It was when I got to riding further that I discovered a different sense of 'oneness' with the world - often as I'm riding the joy is of experiences from different rides fusing together - for examples various bits of 'Wessex' connecting events from different times and different emotional states - from the exhilaration of a descent on a summer evening, to the loneliness of riding up the same hill in the darkness of the early hours wondering why the overnight control is not around the corner.  That sense of connection brings reason to things that otherwise would have made no sense.  Those experiences, I think, are very personal, and not easy to synthesize within the bounds of a newspaper article.  Maybe its mental food for an Arrivee article?

Definitely much of this, I'd done an imperial century sportive pre-Audax days, but had left it at that. So far a 200, adn the Audax ethos definitely helped whilst touring last year. 

Whilst I've not got much higher yet, my thoughts are definitley turning towards 100s adn 200s this year in recovery, 300/400 next year as tasters/indicators of an LEL entry in 2021, so very much encouraging me to go further in a pretty supportive community.  Adn even if not on an organised audax, I'm definitly using the "oneness" with the world philosophy and seeing bits of the East Angles I'd have otherwise missed.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens