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1,500km in four rides. how hard can that be?

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.

11 comments

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Chuffy [202 posts] 5 years ago
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Not ridden any of them, but the Mr Pickwick will be EPIC.*

* - a complete bastard.

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crikey [1251 posts] 5 years ago
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Smashing and really under-rated part of cycling. I met a chap a few years ago who had done a 400km Audax, and had ridden 60 miles to get there, and was on his way home with 30 to go. He was riding a bit too quick for me to sit and chat with him....

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Gkam84 [9145 posts] 5 years ago
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Look at the 600, it is pretty doable for you. Work it down into simple figures.

600km - 373 miles
373/2 = 186.5 per day
186.5/15= 12.43mph

So give yourself 5 hours off for rests and sleeping on the first day, keep a 12-13 mile an hour average, you are well on the way.....  19

I'm looking at some Audax events next year in prep for Ride London and some other things I have lined up in 2016

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jollygoodvelo [1893 posts] 5 years ago
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I love the idea of these. No racing, just do the distance. Enjoy the road.

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carytb [136 posts] 5 years ago
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Did my first one last weekend. Only 160k but really enjoyable with very friendly people. Probably won't do a sportive again.

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dave atkinson [6539 posts] 5 years ago
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carytb wrote:

Did my first one last weekend. Only 160k but really enjoyable with very friendly people. Probably won't do a sportive again.

once you realise you can spend the other £45 on cake, it's a no-brainer, right?  4

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paddyirish [56 posts] 5 years ago
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Good on you. Just read a pal's article in Arrivee about doing his- part of a RRTY (200km every month for a year). Nuts.

Did a 100km in August - gale force winds made it a real challenge but was great fun, and felt more of an achievement than the Etape Caledonia. I'm another who will be doing audaxes before sportives...

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Phil T [35 posts] 4 years ago
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crikey wrote:

Smashing and really under-rated part of cycling. I met a chap a few years ago who had done a 400km Audax, and had ridden 60 miles to get there, and was on his way home with 30 to go. He was riding a bit too quick for me to sit and chat with him....

Sportives - for people who like to pretend they're racing

Audax - for people who like to pretend they're not..........  16

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vorsprung [293 posts] 4 years ago
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Dave,

Also doing the Brevet Cymru 400km
On my Carbon fibre bike

I like the look of the Mr Pickwick 600km but don't think it will fit in

2015 is Paris-Brest-Paris year y'know. You are doing an SR. Are you going to St Quentin?

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alotronic [642 posts] 4 years ago
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Even I managed a SR this year Dave and I am getting old and did no training apart from commuting. I did choose the flatest series of all, the Essex SR, which I will be repeating next year as prep for the Big One, PBP. Your rides are much harder. Brevet Cymru? Yikes. Maybe in a year where I am not trying to qualify for Paris  1

One you have a certain level of fitness (you have it) the rest is about pacing (ie, slowing down), comfort and surviving without sleep. It's a mental game, which is why you might have to be over 35 to really get it (cue flame war).

Good luck! You'll be fine. If you want an 'easy' 600 then 'The Flatlands' is the one. The clue is in the name.

I will be switching to my carbon bike this year and living with rubbish mudguards - I figure that 1mph over such long distances is an advantage worth having!

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plod [5 posts] 4 years ago
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See you at Cheltenham New Flyer and Brevet Cymru