So, in a fit of hubris directly related to the fact that I've been training and lost a bunch of weight, I've decided to have a pop at a Super Randonneur series next year.
This is Audax we're talking about here. If you're not aware of, or only dimly aware of, Audax, it's basically distance riding. It's much more grass roots than sportives and has been around a lot longer. It historically attracts people who have bikes with mudguards, and Carradice saddlebags. And beards. People like me, then. All you have to do is get round above a minimum speed and get your card stamped along the way to prove you haven't cheated. There's no route signs, you find your own way. Traditionally it's been the domain of the gnarly touring types, but you'll see more and more racers doing the shorter (and, increasingly, longer) rides. They're a few quid, rather than £50-odd for a big sportive. And they have better cakes. It used to be a mudguards-only domain, but many rides don't require them now.
Audax rides start at 50km. And they start again, 'properly', at 200km: the classic distances are 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km. Do one of each, in a season, and you're a Super Randonneur, and you get to own a shiny badge, like the one pictured above.
It's worth pointing out, to anyone who thinks that some kind of Herculean effort, that the SR series is a pretty lowly gong in Audax terms. Awards go all the way up to the Brevet 25000: in a six-year period, you need to do: a Paris-Brest-Paris (1,200km) or London-Edinburgh-London (1,400km); another ride over 1,200km; a 1,000km; a 24 hour team ride; three Super-Randonneur series; and other rides to top up to 25,000km. Yowch.
So, anyway. It'll be new ground for me. I've done a 300km, which I found mostly very pleasant, and a 400km, which didn't go entirely to plan. But never a 600km. Although that's just two 300km rides with a bit of a nap in between, right? How hard can it even be? I'm glossing over the fact that the 600km I've entered has 1.073 Everests of climbing in it.
If anyone's interested in bobbing along for a laugh, here's my series. Total cost for 1,500km of riding: £43.50.
14th March: The Cheltenham New Flyer 200km
11th April: The Heart of England 300km
2nd May: The Brevet Cymru 400km (I have unfinished business with that one)
13th June: Mr. Pickwick goes in search of dragons and legends 600km
Wish me luck. And if you're doing one of them, come say hi.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.