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Doing my first audax - is my bike suitable and other tips?

HuntosHuntos Posts: 53
I'm doing my first audax even in 3 weeks and wanted to know if my equipment is suitable, what to carry etc. The event is a 104km Brevet Populaire and supposed to be reasonably level.

My main question is will my bike be suitable or should I borrow something else from a friend? I have a touring bike (2010 Ridgeback Panorama), which obviously is going to give me a weight disadvantage over a standard road bike, will I be OK on this or is it likely I will struggle compared to the lighter bikes my friends will be riding on the climbs etc? I am relatively young and fit and don't normally have problems keeping up and overtaking road bikes on my tourer on shorter journeys/commute, but I don't really no what to expect in terms of pace and fitness levels on an audax.

The bike is currently running 35c touring tyres - would it be worth my while to swap these out for something smaller like 28c?

The other question is what to carry? At this time of year the weather isn't very guaranteed so I am going to need to take suitable gear and some basic tools and snacks. Should I leave my rear pannier rack on with a small top bag which will hold my bits and bobs or remove the rack and carry in so me other way?

Posts

  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Hello there and welcome to the world of audax. I do one every few weeks and really enjoy them. The governance of AUK and the fact they are usually run by people who simply enjoy cycling makes them a bit more consistant than sportives IME (although I also enjoy the odd sportive, before anyone starts that debate :) ).

    The answer to many of your questions are "it depends" I'm afraid! However, things like "is my bike good enough" is most definitely "yes". I have seen folks turn up on all manner of machines and make it around but something light and responsive will always make cycling more enjoyable for me. Most audaxes are fairly generous with the max times so the min speed you will probably need to target is 12kph so if you can manage that at the mo on your bike then you will be fine. If you cannot, keep the bike but change the rider :) . Bear in mind that some routes can be very lumpy (3,000m of climbing in 100k, for instance) but you look to be ok there by your comments.

    When it comes to what you will need to carry then there is no one answer. You will need to be self dependent but there is a big chunk of risk assessment in that. I carry what I carry on any long ride (food, water, a couple of cable ties, spare tubes and patches, pump, levers, chain brute, spare quick link, etc, etc.,) but I have also chatted to folks who carry spare spokes, brake pads..you name it. They are not wrong and I am not right...we just carry some different stuff based on perceived risk and previous experience.

    A map is essential (even the best routecards can be undone by a last minute roadworks so"turn right at the next T" is of no use when you are on the wrong road). I would also recommend a mapholder for the routecard (the Polaris ones work brilliantly) if you are old school like me.

    Tyres? Up to you. I get around on 23mm GP4000s, some folks get around on tyres that look like they came off a tractor! Something practical like Gatorskins in 28mm would be good and make the ride more enjoyable but I would recommend that you take this just like any long ride...so do a 50 miler this w/e and see what you think, etc., although you don't say what your normal ride lengths are??

    Clothing? Same as usual. What would you normally take on a 100k ride? I wear my normal stuff and have a pacamac in a back pocket (good for wind protection/warmth if needed and also showers).

    Finally, enjoy it! I normally shoot around but many folks take their enjoyment of the cafe stops very seriously :) and this is often the best place to meet and chat and meet a good ride buddy for the next leg. Here's a good site that is more audax specific, btw: http://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?board=17.0 and the FAQs section covers pretty much everything.
  • HuntosHuntos Posts: 53
    edited February 2012
    Many thanks for your advice, very useful. I think I will stick some skinnier tyres on my tourer and try it out on this first ride and go from there. I'm not too worried about the distance as I've done similar length rides before without too many problems, but that is at my own pace. I don't tend to hang about too much pace wise but don't know what the standard of pace is like at these sort of events.

    Generally when I go out for a ride I would do 35-50 miles. I did a 70 mile ride a couple of weeks ago (meant to be 35miles but the trainline back was closed!) which was mainly flat, and I could maintain a consistent pace of 18-19mph on the flat over this sort of distance with minimal breaks. Have had a cycle computer on for the last few hundred miles and it says my average speed since installing it is about 13.5mph, but alot of that is commuting a fairly hilly route through city traffic to work. On mixed gradient open roads without touring gear I would think I would average around 15mph overall as long as it didn't get too lumpy.
  • HuntosHuntos Posts: 53
    Also, on the subject of maps and route finding, I have a holder for my iPhone on my bike and normally use the GPS on that for directions when I go out for rides I'm unfamiliar with - is using GPS frowned upon/ not aloud or is it OK?
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    Which audax are you doing? I'm doing LVIS from Long Ashton at the end of March. I shall most definitely be taking a gps; though last time I did an audax my batteries went flat and I ended up following folk. Take printed directions with you.

    IME audax's are pretty low key - ride what you want, wear what you want. You're responsible for yourself just like any other ride.
  • Bike absolutely suitable. Reckon the route finding will be the challenge.
    Have a great day and let us know how it went.
    "Consider the grebe..."
  • JamesBJamesB Posts: 1,184
    I have a touring bike (2010 Ridgeback Panorama), which obviously is going to give me a weight disadvantage over a standard road bike, will I be OK on this or is it likely I will struggle compared to the lighter bikes my friends will be riding on the climbs

    this may well be so BUT bear in mind that 1. bike is merely part of the total moving unit weight 2. Your friends may be heavier / lighter anyway than you 3. they may be fitter / less fit than you.

    So although a lighter bike may help it is not end of whole equation, it helps BUT !
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Can only echo previous responses.

    Audax is a very broad church and you'll be riding with people on the latest and greatest super-light carbon bikes as well as people on touring bikes that are ready to take on a trip around the world. Same with what people are carrying - you'll see people with a pump and tube shoved in their back pocket, you'll see people with two fully stuffed panniers.

    No-one is right or wrong - ride what you are happy and comfortable with.

    People have very different approaches as to what they want to achieve when riding audax - some people want to get around the ride as fast as possible, others like to take their time and enjoy the scenery - again, both are totally valid.

    Your Ridgeback tourer is more than suitable - I assume you've got it set up so it's very comfortable for a long day in the saddle - if so, it'll be perfect. I wouldn't overly stress about changing anything.

    In terms of what spares etc. to carry - it's down to you - at a minimum a spare tube, levers and pump (you'll get little sympathy if you don't have those). For a 100km in the south of England I carry slightly different spares to a longer event in deepest Wales (where I might have spare gear/brake cables and a spare tyre).

    Don't be worried about telling people it is your first audax - you'll find riders are generally a very welcoming crowd and will be able to offer you advice.

    Study the routesheet before you ride - even have a look at Google Streetview at any tricky junctions. If you use GPS, make sure you've still got the printed routesheet in case of batteries failing, GPS going funny or whatever. (GPS is not really frowned upon - a lot of riders use it).

    I hope you have a great ride! Be warned - it's addictive - get a few 100s under your belt and you'll be wondering if you can manage a 200, a few 200s and you'll be wondering about that 300 - next thing you know, you'll be riding London-Edinburgh-London next year!
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    edited February 2012
    I don't have any personal experience at all, but from the expert advice I see on BR I understand that a touring bike is actually compulsory for audax, and it must be equipped with mudguards and panniers. 3 weeks probably isn't quite long enough to grow a proper beard but I assume that you'll have started to prepare some time ago so you should be OK.















    Alright, I know, but someone has to take on responsibility for trotting out the stale clichés ;-)
  • StedmanStedman Posts: 377
    Huntos,

    Start with what you know and make any changes later after you get a feel of how you tackle these events. I wouldn’t change anything before this event, however in the longer term I would recommend good quality 23mm road tyres.

    There is nothing wrong with a good quality touring bike and use one for our local chain gang training rides.

    Pannier rack on with a small top bag sounds like a very good idea to me.
  • hugo15hugo15 Posts: 1,101
    Take a pen as one of the controls might be to write down the distance on a signpost. I used a little one from the local bookies when I did my last Audax.
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Stedman wrote:

    however in the longer term I would recommend good quality 23mm road tyres.

    And I would recommend 28mm or 30mm!

    Everyone is going to have a different approach - but don't stress about the equipment too much. Time allowances on audax are quite generous - so it's not all about speed, comfort is far more important (one of the reasons I ride with 28mm), particularly if you choose to go up the distances. But, again, everyone is totally different - I've seen people out on wet, miserable 400km rides on a carbon bike with no mudguards, skinny tyres with a rain jacket stuffed in the back pocket as their only other clothing - they seem to have just as much 'fun' as me with a steel bike, mudguards and a Carradice saddlebag full of spare clothing and cake - admittedly their fun doesn't quite last as long as mine - but you might as well get full value from your entry fee!

    As Stedman (and others) have said, ride what you have got and work out what kit to change, or even just adjust your current kit. There is no such thing as a perfect audax bike - just the perfect audax bike for you and the way you want to ride.
  • HuntosHuntos Posts: 53
    craker - its the Jack & Grace Cotton memorial ride on the 17th March starting at Aztec West and heading up towards Gloucester. How far is the LVIS one? If this one goes OK I might do that as well!

    Thanks for all the tips and advice, as recommended I think I will stick with my touring bike as I know it is comfortable over long distances. I do think I will change the tyres out for some 28mm though for a bit less rolling resistance, wouldn't go any smaller though to be honest as I like a little comfort and doubt much narrower would fit on my touring rims anyway. I have been meaning to switch to smaller tyres anyway for general use, and maybe save the 35mm ones for when I'm actually touring.

    I am doing this as training for a tour round Europe, so I guess it makes sense to do it on the bike I'll be using for that anyway! If it goes well I may look to do a few more in the next couple of months before I go :)

    Pen is a good tip, I'll make sure I pack one. Think I will keep the rear rack on with a top pack of a few supplies as this is what I normally do for day rides anyway.

    I already have a good bit of stubble, so i reckon if I work hard I could gain a respectable beard by the event :wink:
  • LVIS is 100km and 200km. plus minus 10km


    Do the 200km! .

    Long ride = better value! ;-). Also more cake.

    Might do Jack and Grace depending on whether can get tandem/missus sorted out for then.
  • Ron StuartRon Stuart Posts: 1,242
    Some do them on race bikes, no guards, no lights, no beard (even the women), not even with twelve volumes of the local landranger series in their pannier bags, and some even have the effrontery to wear cycle helmets would you believe, some don't wear yellow jackets, some don't use pedal clips but use clipless pedal systems, and some don't wear their socks outside their leggings and worst of all some get to the controls before there open.
    Only joking, Audaxs are fine I do a few local ones each year only because I know where I am going. Audaxs are some of the best value organised cycling there is so enjoy. :wink:
  • LindsLinds Posts: 20
    Huntos wrote:
    craker - its the Jack & Grace Cotton memorial ride on the 17th March starting at Aztec West and heading up towards Gloucester. How far is the LVIS one? If this one goes OK I might do that as well!

    Thanks for all the tips and advice, as recommended I think I will stick with my touring bike as I know it is comfortable over long distances. I do think I will change the tyres out for some 28mm though for a bit less rolling resistance, wouldn't go any smaller though to be honest as I like a little comfort and doubt much narrower would fit on my touring rims anyway. I have been meaning to switch to smaller tyres anyway for general use, and maybe save the 35mm ones for when I'm actually touring.

    I am doing this as training for a tour round Europe, so I guess it makes sense to do it on the bike I'll be using for that anyway! If it goes well I may look to do a few more in the next couple of months before I go :)

    Pen is a good tip, I'll make sure I pack one. Think I will keep the rear rack on with a top pack of a few supplies as this is what I normally do for day rides anyway.

    I already have a good bit of stubble, so i reckon if I work hard I could gain a respectable beard by the event :wink:

    You'll be fine - on last years LVIS I rode for a while with 2 guys on mountain bikes and everyone is very friendly/chatty

    I did that Audax last year and it's pretty much flat for the first half, with only a few bumps (you skirt along the edge of the Cotswold escaprment) on the way back. Not doing it again as the route is pretty much the reverse of my old (and occasional) cycle back to Bristol from Gloucester.

    I've also done the 110km LVIS Audax twice and prefer the circular route round Bristol (partially because I can stop at my mates in Bitton for a cup of tea and sarnie) but Dundry Hill is a hell of a hill to have to climb when you're only 5-10km from the finish line. Oh and the cake at Hill and the finish is epic.
  • graham_ggraham_g Posts: 652
    bompington wrote:
    Alright, I know, but someone has to take on responsibility for trotting out the stale clichés ;-)

    Epic fail - you didn't even mention spd sandals! :mrgreen:
  • StedmanStedman Posts: 377
    If you are ever worried about the type of bike which is suitable for an Audax, I saw an electric bike on the Alfreton Three Fields event for the first time last Saturday. Apparently there is nothing in the rules which prevents this.

    My view was that this was encouraging DDA move as the rider has had both a hip and knee replacement!
  • Ron StuartRon Stuart Posts: 1,242
    Electric bike, this guy did the Maratona dles Dolomite hand cranking
    422128_10150734538894524_527244523_11638871_597796219_n.jpg

    Here's the parcours for the event http://www.maratona.it/info/2010-courses/en/ probably a tad more testing than the Alfreton ride me thinks :wink:
  • HuntosHuntos Posts: 53
    Well, completed it all OK and everything went very well - in fact I beat all 8 of my mates on their lightweight racers to the finish by a fair distance :D

    The ride has made me realise two things:

    1- Firstly my Ridgeback Panorama is an excellent bike and performed faultlessly, but it is definitely too small for me. It is a medium 56cm and I am around 6'2", I have the seat post fairly high and a longer taller stem which makes it acceptable, but in reality I need to trade this in for a bigger tourer before my planned euro trip in a few months time. At my height should I be looking at large or XL bikes in general?

    2 - Secondly it turns out I am actually a much better cyclist than I had realised! I must have finished in the top 20 or so which surprised me - baring in mind we were late signing in and left a good while after the rest of the field and alot of the time I was going at the pace of my friends which was slower than I felt I wanted to be going. This has made me wonder whether I should consider investing in a proper road bike as well as the tourer and think about trying some more competitive cycling events...........

    Regardless, it has definitely given me the bug for road cycling and I will be doing more :D
  • thecrofterthecrofter Posts: 734
    Huntos wrote:
    This has made me wonder whether I should consider investing in a proper road bike as well as the tourer and think about trying some more competitive cycling events...........
    And so n+1 starts......
    You've no won the Big Cup since 1902!
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