At the recent Tahune Marathon, Surly Dave was telling me about the Alpine Classic. It’s a 200km road ride in the Victorian Alps starting and ending at Bright. Nothing unusual there ..except for the term he used to describe it ‘Audax’.Huh? ‘Audax’?? WTF is that??? Dave explained that Audax is a form of non-competitive, mass, long-distance cycling where the objective is to complete the course within a set time limit.. Hmmn, this sounded interesting so I decided to do a little homework on Audax….
Audax riding originated in Italy. Riders had to cycle 200km in 14 hours (this being the approximate time between sunrise and sunset) with the focus of the event being on achievement rather than winning. Audax riders are expected to be self-sufficient, so they need to carry all their own gear, food, equipment, spare parts and tools.. they must also fix all of their own mechanicals (which is ok if your name is Mat Grundy.. not so ok if your name happens to be Ben Storer). There are a few purpose-designed Audax bikes kicking about but Audax riders can use any form of bike, Mountain Bikes, Fixies, Tourers, Tandems, BMXs, Roadies, whatever, as long as it’s road worthy.
At events, Audax riders are issued a “brevet” card which is stamped at checkpoints along the course so that riders can mark their progress ..kinda like the spoke cards we issued at the ‘Disciples of the Iron Horse’ race we held last year. Apparently there are a huge variety of Audax events, but the one that appealed most to me is the ‘Grimpeurs’ which is held in extremely hilly territory.. Yeah, Tassie style!
The Paris-Brest-Paris Audax is the most prestigious long-distance event in the world. The 1200km event on the west coast of France attracts 4,000 cyclists from around the globe.It was won in 1931 by the incredible Hubert Opperman, who went on to become patron of Audax Australia and now has the Fleche Opperman named in his honour. Reading all of this has got me pumped for bike weeks ‘Century Ride’ on Sunday March 16 (see www.cyclingsouth.org ) .. I’m thinking I’ll take the fixie out for the day, carry all my own tools and tucker and see if I can nail it..!! Check out www.audax.org.au for more Audax action!