Fat Lad At The Back

  • Ride Fright

    You’ve charged your Garmin, pumped up your tyres and are all set to go out for a ride when the pre-ride nerves kick in.

    Your stomach is in knots and you’re wondering if you need to make yet another trip to the loo! it’s all quite exhausting and you haven’t even left the house yet!

    Feeling nervous is understandable especially when you’re going to do something new whether that’s a sportive or joining a group ride for the first time.

    Yet many of us feel those pre-ride butterflies before rides and distances that we’ve comfortably covered many times before yet we can find ourselves completely focused on the “what if’s” list!

    What if I’m not fast enough and get dropped?

    What if I get lost?

    What if I can’t get up the hill and need to get off and walk?

    What if I can’t finish the event

    What if I let everyone down?

    Checklist:

    Go through a mental checklist of all your what if’s. Are they really that much of a big deal? If they’re really stressing you out, write down the worst case scenarios and come up with a plan of how to deal with them.

    So for example …..

    WHAT IF I get a puncture? Learn how to fix a puncture and always have a puncture repair kit with you. Always take your phone with you so if you can’t fix it you can call someone for a ride home.

    WHAT IF I can’t make it up the hill? There is absolutely no shame in walking up a hill, and just ignore anyone who tells you different.

    Be Prepared:

    Make sure that your bike is in good condition, check your tyres, pack a tool kit and always carry a few quid incase you get stranded at the pub or café!

    Stay Hydrated:

    As little as 2% dehydration can effect our performance. As most of our anxiety is about ‘not being good enough’, being properly hydrated when you start riding and staying hydrated throughout a ride can only have a positive effect.

    Visualise The Ride:

    This is a technique used by many professional athletes and it works just as well for anyone. Before you ride, instead of focussing on the negative and what may go wrong, focus on the positives and create a vivid mental picture of yourself succeeding – getting up the hills, staying with the pack, having a good time and enjoying your ride. Continue to use positive mental imagery to stay focused and motivated when you experience obstacles or setbacks.

    Take A Moment:

    Research suggests that not only does our body language effect the way other people respond to us, but also how our own brains respond. Adopting a strong, confident and open body position can have enormous positive effects on your own confidence. Try it for yourself: Take two minutes before your ride, Stand in an open pose, shoulders relaxed, chest open (known as a high power pose). Close your eyes, breathe in deeply for a count of 3, hold for 1, and then breathe out fully for a count of 5 at the same time visualise the positive outcome of your ride.

    Stay focused on the here and now:

    Don’t think about what has happened on previous rides or focus on the what if’s, think about the sense of freedom you get on your bike and how much you enjoy the experience and remember there’s really no need to feel so nervous after all, it’s only a bike ride!

     

  • FLAB Winter cycling survival guide - Head

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.

    Keeping your head neck and ears warm this winter.

    Winter cycling season is now upon us and keeping your head,ears face and neck warm as the temperature drops without over heating will make all the difference to keeping you comfortable on winter rides. Chances are your helmet has loads of vents which are great during the summer months at keeping your head cool but the constant flow of cold air in the winter can make you cold very quickly and can in turn make for a very unpleasant ride

     

    Here are our top tips to keep your head/neck/ears/face warm

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com 29/10/2016 - Cycling Fat Lad and Fat Lass At The Back Cyclewear shoot - Burnsall, Yorkshire

    Neck doo dah/one of those whatsit-thingy-m’bobs

    These tubular pieces of material are really versatile, easily adjustable and can be worn several ways to keep your head and neck warm.

    They can be worn as a hat, or around your neck pulled up over your neck and ears.

    They are great to pull up over your mouth to take the sting out of the cold winter air when the temperature really plummets.

    Wear one on your head and one on your neck pulled up over your face and neck to create a balaclava that’s easily adjustable to any temperature changes on your ride.

    See our range of neck-doo-dahs here

    Cycling caps 

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 05/09/2015 - FLAB Cycling - Fat Lad At The Back photo shoot Filmore and Union Ilkley copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com

    These close fitting cotton caps are great at keeping out the winter chills. Our caps feature an antibacterial tape to stop moisture dripping into your eyes when you’re working hard and the peak is great at helping to keep the rain out of your eyes when it’s lashing down.

    See our range of cycling caps here

    Ear warmers/headbands

    Head bands are great at keeping your ears warm,specifically shaped to fit over the ears and usually fleeced back but breathable they work well at keeping the ears warm but allow the top of your head to breath so you’re less likely to overheat.

    Skull caps/merino beanies

    It's worth sourcing a cycling specific hat made from technical fabrics that are warm but breathable and are made from a very fine material so that they aren’t bulky and will fit comfortably under your helmet.

    Full balaclava

    A cycling specific full face balaclava offers ultimate protection on cold winter rides. Made from technical fabrics which will allow you to breath comfortably but will be thin enough to fit snugly under your cycling helmet.

  • FLAB Winter cycling survival guide - Hands

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back. .

    If your hands and fingers get cold and numb during winter rides it not only makes cycling unpleasant but it can impact on being able to change gear and brake safely.

    TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR HANDS WARM

    A good quality pair of wind and waterproof gloves.

    Try adding an extra layer by using a thin lightweight liner glove made from thin silk or merino wool.

    Make sure your gloves aren’t too tight and keep wriggling your fingers during the ride to keep the blood circulating.

    Warm your gloves up on the radiator before going out and if possible give them a blast under the hand dryer at the café stop.

    Layering works just as well for your hands as it does your body.

    You could also keep a pair of disposable handwarmers in your back pocket for an instant hit of warmth.

    WINTER GLOVES

     Wearing cycling specific gloves is important as too much bulk can make it difficult to use the gear and break levers safely.

    Layering works just as well for your hands as it does your body.

    Lightweight full finger gloves

    Lightweight full finger gloves are ideal for autumn rides ,the extra layer of material over the fingertips can me enough to keep out the early autumn chills.

    Windproof gloves

    Windproof gloves will keep the chilling effect of cold air off your skin but won’t offer a lot of protection if it gets wet but are ideal for cool dry winter rides.

    Glove liners

    liners

    Glove liners are a versatile lightweight glove that come in a variety of fabrics from silk to merino wool. They can be used under your fingerless summer gloves and are easy to pop into your jersey pocket as the day warms up. Can be used as an extra layer under full finger gloves and when the temperature really drops you can pop them under your windproof/waterproof glove for an extra bit of warmth without too much bulk.

     

    Lobster glovesphew lobster

    Lobster gloves group two fingers into one compartment sharing the warmth but will still allow a good grip on handlebars and easy use of levers

    Phew Lobster glove

     

     

     

     

    Waterproof & windproof

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    Waterproof and windproof gloves offer a good layer of protection without being too bulky and will provide good all round protection whatever the weather throws at you on your ride.

     

    Sealskinz all weather gloves

     

     

     

    Neoprene gloves

    Neoprene gloves are lightweight but they are not for everyone as although they’re fantastic at keeping  the cold air out they don’t breath so you may get sweaty palms but because the cold air can’t get through the membrane you’ll stay warm but may get a bit moist!

     

    Bar Mitts/ Moose mitts/ Bike Poagies

    bar-mitts-for-road-bikes

    Bar mitts are great for extreme weather conditions or for people who suffer from circulation problems like raynaud’s disease. They attach onto your handlebars with variations for flat and road bars available. This allows you to wear your other gloves underneath adding more insulation to your hands.

    Bar Mitts

     

     

    Handwarmers

    handwarmers

     

    These are a great little helper to keep in your back pocket if no matter how hard you try you still get extremely cold hands as you can get an instant hit of heat.

     

     

     

     

    Latex/surgical/disposable gloves

    glove

    A pair of these gloves are not only handy for keeping your hands clean when doing roadside repairs but are great if your gloves aren't enough to keep you warm, or you get caught out in rain mid ride you can always pop into a petrol station and grab a pair. Your hands will look like you've stayed in the bath for too long afterwards but the extra layer can be enough to stop your fingers going numb and get you home.

     

  • FLABinati The Rules

    Flabinati Logo

    Rule #1// Re–write the rules

    Rule #2// Lead from behind

    Rule #3// It’s all about the pie

    Rule #4// No excuses, unless you’ve got an excuse

    Rule #5// FLAB the man up! (FLAB the woman up too!)

    Rule #6// Cake isn't optional, it's essential!

    Rule #7// The correct number of cakes to have is C+1 where C is the number of cakes already eaten

    Rule #8// Coffee and tea must match the cake choice....

    Rule #9// Refer to weight as “potential energy” it’s what makes you go faster down hill, than those with less of it

    Rule #10// Represent the FLAB always – any passing cyclist must be greeted with a cheerless “now then”

    Rule #11// Riders are to be measured by quantity not quality

    Rule #12// Waists and chests are to be measured in inches

    Rule #13// Free your waistband and your legs will follow

    Rule #14// Enjoy rather than endure

    Rule #15// You’ve got a 32? Use it! If you haven’t, get one. *Addendum A 34 is also acceptable as is a triple

    Rule #16// All cyclists faster up hill than you shall be referred to as ‘hill whippets’

    Rule #17// Fat shall be referred to as potential muscle

    Rule #18// When you put on a FLAB jersey you instantly get 30,000 friends*at time of printing. Subject to change

    Rule #19// All fellow FLAB wearers will be greeted with an enthusiastic Ey Up/pat on the back/hug

    Rule #20// Guide the Bulge

    Rule #21// All rides must end with or include a refreshment stop

    Rule #22// A FLAB out cycling in any weather is badass

    Rule #23// Be self-stufficient - always carry pies

    Rule #24// Beer is as a hydration fluid

    Rule #25// FLAB kit is for members of the Bulge

    Rule #26// Like your tums, saddles should be smooth and comfortable

    Rule #27// Cycling efficiency is to be measured in miles per donut

    Rule #28// There are only three remedies for hunger:

    Pies
    Cake
    Butties

    Rule #29// Join us and be proud

    Rule #30// The rules are dead, long live the rules

    With thanks to Velominati and their inspiring collection of The Rules  - To submit your suggestions to our tongue in cheek (should that be pie in cheek?) version, please email fatlads@fatladattheback.com

    http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

    FLABinati Rules 1 -30

     

  • LADY BITS

    Lady Bits

    Look away now lads.

    Uncomfortable undercarriage discussions crop up frequently over on our community forum and it’s an issue which effects both men and women with people seeking recommendations for comfortable saddles and anti-chaffing creams.

     

    bits

    For us lasses, {however} the added inconvenience of monthly cycles (*Lads if you are still reading now, you only have yourselves to blame!) and hormonal changes means that intimate discomfort is a common issue, yet it’s a subject that’s rarely discussed in any detail. So here goes……

    As a former Breeze Coordinator, Breeze Champion and as a FLambassador I’ve had conversations about this with dozens of women and here’s the accumulation of our shared experiences!

     

    MONTHLY CYCLES

    mooncup

    MOONCUPS

    Everything you need to know about mooncups

    I’d never heard of them either until I read a book about ultra distance cycling and coping with periods on the road and in countries where sanitary products are not readily available.

    TAMPONS or SANITARY TOWELS

    tampons-or-pads1

    Tampons may seem like the obvious option but they’re not for everyone! Mooncups are a very environmentally friendly way of taking care of things and a couple of my friends wouldn’t be without theirs, but some lasses (me included) prefer sanitary towels.

    I don’t wear pants and just place the sanitary towel directly onto the pad of my shorts. I then place a small amount of chamois cream on the wings to prevent chafing and it works a treat for me. If I’m on a long ride I carry a few spares and some nappy sacs. Sometimes I’ll pop behind a bush (no pun intended!) to change and then dispose of it at the next loo stop.

    Intimate discomfort

    So, you’re saddle is sorted, you’ve got your padded shorts, you’re (probably)  riding knicker less and you’re used to riding during your period!

    Everything is great – YES?

    Well for me – NO!

    In the last couple of years, I started to experience extreme ‘internal’ discomfort - dryness, irritation and excruciating pain whilst trying to pee! It was so bad I thought I was going to have to give up cycling altogether but one day I went to my local pharmacy and explained in hushed tones what I was feeling. She recommended Canesten intimate moisture which helps the irritation and internal dryness caused by the friction of cycling and by approaching menopause. She also advised that if there was no improvement in a couple of days to see my GP but I’m pleased to say it’s been a game changer for me. I use it inside before I ride and then apply chamois cream externally and my under carriage is happy again. Canesintima_Intimate-Moisturiser-and-bottle

    Vagisil-Medicated-Cream-820522

     

    A similar conversation popped up on the FLAB community forum a few weeks ago with some lasses also using a cream called Vagisil which helps with itching in the intimate area along with the intimate moisturiser and chamois cream application on the outside calling it the recipe for ‘OUCH BE GONE’ and ‘ITCH BE GONE’

     

     

    BIKINI LINES

    I always thought waxing was the best way to avoid saddle soreness, though I must admit I did occasionally suffer with sores and ingrowing hairs but in 2016 I read this article about the Ladies Olympic cycling team being advised to rethink their intimate grooming regimes. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3743239/Why-Olympic-cyclists-DON-T-wax-bikini-lines-Pubic-hair-protects-against-saddle-soreness.html

    razor

    I took the advice and stopped waxing and can confirm that after cycling for 14 days consecutively across France my under carriage was in tip top shape with no ingrown hairs or saddle sores.

     

    So hopefully that’s some of your undercarriage questions answered. If you got this far and you’re a lad, please refer to paragraph 2* if you’re a lass, remember this is not medical advise and you must consult your GP about any issues you have!

    Happy Cycling!

  • Where's Your Mojo Gone?

    mojo

    ˈməʊdʒəʊ/

    • noun

    a magic charm, talisman, or spell.

    Where’s your Mojo gone? Here’s the magic you need to get it and you back in the saddle!

    Have you ever found yourself in a position where you just can’t get motivated to get on your bike?  You avoid looking at posts for the rides that are going out, you blame it on changes in the atmosphere, tiredness, anything that comes to mind to try and explain just where your mojo has gone!

    Well, that exact this started happening to me last year and my biggest fear was that I felt like I was really starting to fall out of love with cycling!  How could that possibly be true given that  I’d had so much fun training for LEJOG in 2015 and maintaining that fitness through 2016 but for some reason I found myself begrudgingly throwing my leg over the bike one Saturday morning for a training ride, only because I’d signed up for another challenge in an attempt to retain the fitness I’d achieved the year before.

    Having an event to train for had motivated me in the past and was a great excuse to always be cycling.  I had so much fun, so I never felt like I was training but now I felt like I was really starting to dislike it.

    IMG_5990

    Riding with friends had always been a way to get me out but one ride buddy moved away and another had a nasty cycling accident so she couldn’t ride for a few months…my mojo had, by now, well and truly left the building, I was cycling because I ‘had’ to not because I wanted to.

    Even decent weather didn’t motivate me but I decided one day to give myself a kick up the backside and get out for a ride. 10 miles in I had a tantrum, got off my bike and stamped my feet, literally, feeling frustrated with myself for not enjoying it. How had I come to loath cycling so much? Was our love affair finished?

    Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve been busy with work and projects at home and I’m still mojo less. Finding a happy balance between cycling and life isn’t easy for me as I have an all or nothing personality that mythical area of balance that apparently sits between the two extremes eludes me.

    The FLAB community forum, for which I am “The Guardian”, has rekindled my interest. I enjoy reading the posts and seeing how excited and proud people are of their achievements and it’s reminded me of why I fell in love with cycling years ago and how inspired I used to feel to ride and to encourage others into this great sport.

    image2

    I finally went back out for a ride and for the first time in a few months and I really enjoyed it, what had changed? I got back on my bike that day because I wanted to and not because I had to.

    As they say everything is clearer in retrospect, I’ve realised that I’m far too hard on myself. Thinking that missing a training ride because my body hurt, was a sign of weakness isn’t helpful and if I’d stopped berating myself I’d have realised that I was overtraining. I have now learnt a very valuable lesson about the importance of recovery and being kinder to myself.

    I’ve got a FLAB social ride coming up this weekend and I feel excited, my love affair has been rekindled a trial separation was just what we needed for me to fall back in love.

  • Cadence

    Cadence

    What is cadence?

    Cadence is the rate at which you turn your pedals or number of revolutions of your crank per minute while there is no magic number aiming for 90rpm is a good goal.

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    Why does cadence matter?

    Cadence is important to stop your muscles fatiguing to early, using the correct cadence will improve your cycling efficiency allowing you to cycle faster and for longer before your muscles tire.

    What’s the best way to measure cadence?

    The easiest but not necessarily the most accurate way is to count how many times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds and double it but the best way is to fix a cadence sensor to your bike that links to your cycle computer which is much more accurate.

    Will a good cadence improve my speed?

    In a nutshell yes, if you’re currently pushing too high a gear and find that you can only ride so far before your legs give up, focusing on your cadence will help you ride further and make sure you’re using your gears efficiently and will help with both speed and endurance as you’ll be able to ride faster and further for longer and make you into a more efficient cyclist.

    orig_11183_174541297357303f774f1a2

    Keep it simple…

    There is so much information out there regarding what we should or shouldn’t be doing when it comes to cadence and it’s very difficult as a beginner to make all this advice work without feeling confused and overwhelmed by the technicality of it all so keep it simple

    Measure your cadence and work to keep it within 80-100rpm to make you more efficient as pushing a low cadence in a high gear will fatigue your legs very quickly.

    After a while when you’ve found your cadence and have gotten used to using your gears efficiently you can look online for drills to further improve your cadence and speed.

  • Doris - Ade's Inner Voice

    Meet Doris, my doubting inner voice…

    She’s has been around a lot just lately – Bitch!

    Doris sits on my shoulder and whispers “you can’t do it, you’re just not good enough…”

    I’ve learned to put Doris in a little box to keep her quiet but when I’m having a bad day she pops out and starts whispering again…

    I’ve learned to acknowledge Doris, sometimes when I’m going up a hill thighs burning, lungs bursting, she’ll put in an unwanted appearance, screaming at me to stop, yelling that there’s no way I can do it!

    I say “shut the $@&% up Doris. I know it hurts but the pain is temporary, we can make it a bit further just to the next tree or lamppost…”, keeping Doris in her box can be so distracting that before I know it we’re at the top of the hill.

    Now all my cycling buddies have named their doubting inner voices, and if someone tells us Daphne has joined us for the ride or that Deirdre popped out on the last hill, it’s our way of saying we’re struggling a little bit and then we all have a laugh about giving Daphne, Deirdre or Doris a rollicking and carry on. It has a powerful effect and just talking about it instantly puts all our fears at bay.

    I have days where Doris is so powerful, I just don’t have the energy to shut her up, and that’s ok as it’s just part of what makes me human after all.

    But accepting Doris, naming her and talking about her has had a huge effect on my mental strength and without doing so I wouldn’t have been able to cycle the length of France or climb Mont Ventoux or cycle LE JOG. Doris is ever present whether she’s inside or outside of the box and acknowledging her as being part of me has taught me a great life lesson that my most powerful muscle is my mind and where the mind goes the body follows.

  • One Simple Lifestyle Change Was Enough To Change My Life Forever

    DSC_0183Two months into cycling to work and I liked it that much, I started to use the bike for other things like getting to the shops and visiting friends. It was not all good though, because the bike was old, it kept getting punctures and eventually the bottom bracket went.

    I had recently visited my younger brother Adam in Holland and while out there had borrowed an old bike and I really loved it. It had a basket on the front and panniers and a frame that was easy to get on and off with a sit up and beg comfy position.

    I went to my nearest chain bike store and had a look at the bikes, finding one that was just what I wanted. It was a heavy blue thing, but I was in love with it.

    Cycling had improved my mood so much by this point, but I still had not given it a second thought, I was just not having as many dark days.

    Depression is strange, I didn't realise I had it and often blamed my situation for by bad mood. The slightest thing sometimes would set it off and for days I would wake up feeling either angry or upset, alone and with no end to a way out. Sometimes it would last for weeks and months. I felt like no-one understood and I wanted to hide. The anger was horrible and it often led to days of crying and a big feeling of hopelessness.

    The new bike filled me with so much happiness, I was so excited to get it, like it was Christmas again when I was 10. I also purchased a pannier rack and basket for the front. Sorted!

    My friend Jan was asking for subjects for her photography course and I volunteered to be a model. She waited for me one morning as I cycled to work and snapped a picture of me zooming down the hill and around the corner. That pic said it all.
    First bike! Fast pic

    Just one simple lifestyle change was enough to change me and my life forever.

    I didn't know, I was at that time just happy being happy!

    POWER BALL RECIPE

    These are brilliant. Only 3 ingredients and just as good as energy bars but without the additives!

    You will need a blender.

    Power balls recipe

  • An Introduction to Audax

    An intro to the world of Audax

    Audax are essentially just long-distance bikes rides. However, they’ve been around a very long time so they come with a well-established rule book, a whole host of acronyms and slang, people that have been doing them longer than you’ve been able to ride a bike and even their own awards system. Being done on a shoestring budget by volunteers, the website, “marketing” and events are functional rather than glitzy. They also go up to utterly ridiculous distances such as the recent 1400km London-Edinburgh-London.

    All that can add up to something that’s very confusing and/or off-putting to the newcomer but the basics of Audax is actually really simple – you just ride your bike between a series of pre-agreed places either on your own or as part of an organised event. They’re surprisingly easy to get into, a lot of fun, great riding, very cheap and full of the most weird, wonderful and kind cyclists you’ll ever meet. They also start at a more manageable 50km!

    So how do you do an Audax?

    Rather than go into a wordy explanation, let’s just look at how you’d do the easiest type of Audax – an organised event done with other people. Known as Calendar Events, this is where you’d want to start your Audax journey and you’ll find a list here.http://www.aukweb.net/events/

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    Most items should be self-explanatory, but some require a bit more explanation:

     

     

     

     

    • Online Entry – Some organisers only allow postal entries, so if you’re not a fan of cheque books and SAEs then look out for events with the PayPal logo, which means you can do it all online. There may be a small extra charge for PayPal to cover their fees, but remember the organisers are all volunteers and put these events on very cheaply, so it’s only fair and usually cheaper than the stamps.
    • Event Type & Rules – the specific rules/organisation this event is being run under. Not important for the casual Audaxer so ignore it.
    • AA (also known as AAA) – unless you really really like hills, avoid events with this on (see glossary for more information).
    • Total Climbing – not always shown but if present usually means the event is hilly (even if it doesn’t qualify for AA points).

    Once you’ve found an event that has potential, click on it for more detail. Again, most of it should be self-explanatory, but look out for:

    • Distance & Time – these not only tell you the distance and start time, but also the amount of time you must complete the event in and the finish time that equates to.
    • Facilities – Audax start locations vary from village halls to pubs to sports centres. This will tell you what to expect on this event. It is in shorthand form but click the ? to get the plain English version. The number is the maximum people they’ll allow on the ride.
    • Route Sheet – this contains the route, directions and further detailed instructions about the ride. Many riders use only this as their only means of navigation.
    • GPX – if the Route Sheet method looks too difficult, many organisers now provide a GPX file for navigation via your GPS computer. If they don’t, and you’d like to navigate by GPS, then it might be easier to chose a different event.

    If you’ve found an event that ticks all your boxes, then go ahead and hit [Enter This Event]!

    Note that Audax UK (AUK) are the organising body in the UK. There are lots of benefits to being a member of AUK, including a regular magazine, but you don’t have to be to enter an event – you’ll just pay a small surcharge (currently £2) for each event you enter – so you can try before you buy as it were.

    On The Day

    Don’t Panic! Get to the start line in plenty of time and any fellow Audaxer will be only too happy to answer any questions or point you in the right direction as to what to do.

    The ride itself consists of riding between a series of predefined places, referred to as Controls, collecting a “proof of passage” at each one to confirm you completed the event as it was intended. Some people like to think of it as a “treasure hunt”.

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    To facilitate this, you’ll be given a card when you sign in at the start of the ride, known as a Brevet Card (note the one shown on the left is a completed one).

     

     

     

    Picture3

     

    Notice how the Brevet Card not only lists the controls, but the distance and allowable times of each one. Details of each control will be in the Route Sheet but the main types are:

     

    • Manned – a volunteer will be waiting for you at a given place and will stamp your card.
    • Named Café/Shop – they will be expecting you and will stamp your card if you ask nicely.
    • Free – it’s up to you; easiest is to get a receipt from a shop or ATM (often acceptable as an alternative to the others if they are busy).
    • Information – a question written on the card that can only be answered if you are there (see 3rd control @ 80km in above Brevet Card, though it was manned that day).

    At the end, you hand your card in to the organisers to be validated and that’s it! If you’re a member of AUK, you’ll get your certificate/points etc. added to your online account.

    What makes Audax great?

    • The fact that they’re unsupported and unsigned.
    • The array of awards/badges you can work towards (if that’s your thing). There are many awards such as SR, RRTY and AAA (see glossary for details) and fancy badges for each.
    • The challenge (there’s always a tougher Audax waiting for you!).
    • The routes – Audaxes often use the little lanes, researched and ridden by the organiser over many years to give the best views, the best riding etc.
    • Other Audaxers – I cannot stress this enough! Everyone is battling their own challenge, but still has time to be one of the nicest cyclists you’ve ever met.
    • Food – there is often an abundance of food on Calendar Events, usually free or very low cost.
    • Attitude – there are only three statuses in Audax: DNS (did not start), DNF (did not finish) and Finished. No-one talks about average speeds or finish times, it’s simply not important as every finisher is treated the same. No-one really cares what bike you’ve got or what brand you’re wearing – look around and you’ll see a huge array of bikes and kit, all chosen and cherished by the individual on whatever criteria/merit they deemed important to them.

    Important Considerations

    Audax are unsupported and unsigned! It’s up to you to find your way between controls and up to you to get out of any problem or situation that may arise. There is no broom wagon or support vehicle – if your bike breaks and can’t be fixed, then you must find your own way home (but do let the organiser know).

    Audax are time-limited, though the allowances are very generous. The clock never stops and quoted average speeds include stopping. So if you need to eat or wee then you’ll need to be aware of the time in hand.

    Audax often use quiet country lanes with varying surfaces. Many seasoned Audaxers favour steel or titanium frames over carbon and wheels with lots of spokes and wider tyres.

    Who shouldn’t do an Audax?

    Audax isn’t for everyone, especially those who:

    • Value speed over everything else and/or want recognition for their speed.
    • Can’t fix a puncture or do basic repairs at the roadside.
    • Can’t navigate.
    • Like a safety blanket/don’t do self-sufficient.
    • Expect paid-staff tending to your every whim, pre-ride bike doctors, post-ride massages etc.

    Who should do an Audax?

    Anyone that likes long distance bike rides and doesn’t fit into the “shouldn’t” category! But be warned it can be addictive!

    Glossary

    Like most things, Audax comes with it’s own language, full of acronyms and slang. Here are the most common things you need to know:

    • AA or AAA – Audax Altitude Award. Really hilly rides qualify for AA points, collect enough and you can get awards.
    • Brevet Card – The card you get at the start of the ride that includes ride details as well as the controls. This is also where you collect/record your proof of passage.
    • Control – A mandatory stop on the route where you must get proof of passage.
    • Calendar Event – A pre-organised/approved route on a given day, done with multiple participants.
    • DIY – An Audax where you design the route and do it on your own at a time of your choosing (but still allows you to get Audax points/awards).
    • Entry On The Line – Turning up and entering on the day. Not always permitted and maximum number of riders still applies.
    • [Going] Full Value – Someone who takes close-to the maximum allowed time, thus getting maximum value out of their entry fee. Not a derogatory term, in fact full-valuers are often admired! And it matters not, anyone that finishes gets the same points/recognition.
    • Permanent – A pre-approved route that you do on your own at a time of your choosing (but still allows you to get Audax points/awards).
    • Route Sheet – Detailed instructions about the route.
    • RRTY (Randonneur Round The Year) – An award given to someone that does a 200km (minimum) Audax every month for 12 consecutive months.
    • SR (Super Randonneur) – An award given to someone that does a 200, 300, 400 and 600km Audax in the same Audax year (Oct-Sept).
    • SRRTY (Super Randonneur Round The Year) – An award given to someone that does an SR every month for 12 consecutive months.
    • Time In Hand – the amount of time between now and when the ride cut-off is.

    Go try!

    Hopefully that’s given you a good overview on how to get started. My advice is if the idea appeals, then definitely try one. Rafe

     

     

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