My First Audax By MaryLogic age 37and 3/4

marylogic Posts: 355
edited May 2013 in Road beginners
I went on my first audax on sunday and thought I would shamelessly promote them by posting a review here :D

Pre event organisation was excellent. Instructions on how to get to the start and full route instructions (including cafe stop options) were emailed promptly, as was the amendment to the start point. I was also able to download the route to my Garmin which was invaluable.
We started in the Asda carpark in Forfar on sunday morning. There were about 30 cars there and a very friendly atmosphere. Asda had kindly opened the cafe early for registration at which point we were refunded £2.50 of the £6 entry fee as the original price had included food.

We had a pretty easy ride for the first 30k. The implications of a tailwind at the start caused only mild anxiety at this point.
We then hit the epic Cairn O'Mount Cat 2 climb. It's featured in the 100 greatest climbs book and I'm trying to tick off all the Scottish ones, so I was really looking forward to it. 313m ascent over 3.3km doesn't give a very pretty average gradient and I was right at the limit staying on the bike to the top. The guy with the heavy recumbent had to push his up, although he made up for it by hitting 90kph down the other side!

At this point the sun was shining, and we descended through beautiful pine forest to the first control at Banchory.

After a quick coffee, we turned to head for Braemar and faced intermittent headwinds. The road climbs gradually and my domestique (or husband as he insists on being called) began to suffer from the weight of his hybrid. We had started near the back anyway and by this time we were the laternes rouges. Stubbornness kept us going (and the fact that it was as far to go back as it was to go on). Nearing Braemar we came across a couple of camera crews at the roadside and a middle aged man driving an orange Jag up and down the road. On close inspection on his second pass we saw that it was indeed Jeremy Clarkson! It must be said that he gave us ample room whilst overtaking, so maybe he doesn't hate cyclists as much as he likes to make out!

Another coffee and some cake in Braemar then the final leg back to Forfar. If the middle section was irksome this final part started as a nightmare as we hit the full force of the headwind. It was mitigated only slightly by now being in a group of four having caught two other newbies at the cafe. We climbed up to Glenshee in the rain and as we neared the top the wind was so fierce I had to unclip for fear of being blown over. I walked to the top at the same pace as my husband was cycling. As the only woman stupid enough to post this segment on strava, I now hold what is possibly the slowest QOM ever recorded - average speed 5.6 kph!!!!!

Over the top we got out the wind and headed back to Forfar. Our two friends stayed with us despite us being slower and we all made it back having managed our first 200Km. I think this will be the first of many for me. Mr Logic says he's never doing it again, although I did catch him looking up audax bikes on the internet last night......


  • marcusjb
    marcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Well done to you both - great write up!

    I've only ridden in those parts of Scotland once, on the Mille Alba 1000km last year - you do have some big hills up there (Cairn O'Mount and Glenshee are real monsters for sure)(but, Glenshee in particular, is a real hoot coming down the other side).

    Really well done - sounds like conditions with wind etc. made it even tougher, so great that you had the mental fortitude to get through it all.

    Your domestique is a lucky man - not many wives are too happy when husbands are busy oggling n+1 - I know my better half gets ever so upset when she catches me looking at carbon bling bikes (that I am categorically NOT allowed to buy as we've run out of room for more bikes!)
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Sounds brill... An excellent account and thanks for sharing
  • goonz
    goonz Posts: 3,106
    Well done and a great write up. Getting me in the mood to start looking for some Audax around me to get involved with.
    Scott Speedster S20 Roadie for Speed
    Specialized Hardrock MTB for Lumps
    Specialized Langster SS for Ease
    Cinelli Mash Bolt Fixed for Pain
    n+1 is well and truly on track
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    great write up mary and kudos to you both for completeing 200k,thats some distance.Well done.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • marcusjb
    marcusjb Posts: 2,412
    marylogic wrote:
    There were about 30 cars there and a very friendly atmosphere.

    (my bold)

    I think that is a key reason for loving audax riding. As it is reasonably non-competitive (sure, there's always going to be a small amount of dick swinging, especially with the fast boys - but it really isn't prevalent in audax), there is a sense of all being in it together (especially if the weather is grim and during night time sections where riders will tend to group up more often).

    Sure, most of us like to push ourselves to finish a 200 faster than we did it last year or whatever, but equally, if the weather's nice and the company is good, it is just great to ride along chatting (some of the most fun I have ever had on audax are ones where I've been with friends and had a real laugh on, but we crawl in right at the end due to excessive time-wasting!).

    Anyway - it's great to see more and more people enjoying audax. It should come with a health warning though - it is pretty addictive, and a 200 tends to lead to a slippery slope of wanting to try to go further and further!

    I guess the only question I have for you, marylogic, is when are you planning on riding a 300? :wink:
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    I read somewhere that audaxers were grumpy but my experience was the exact opposite. It felt inclusive, regardless of the shape or size of you or your bike. There were only about 40 of us, but there were roadies, seasoned wiry old campaigners, mamils, bandana wearing renegade recumbent riders and even a couple of girls. I think the distance and self reliance does breed respect for each other.

    I was highly suspicious that this would be an addictive pursuit so I didn't mess about and just joined audax rather than just pay for the ride. I definitely fancy another 200k this year, maybe 300 next year - I think the Snow Roads looks brilliant but it is full up.

    I would strongly recommend it to anyone considering a first time go. Don't be put off by the lack of back up - it's no different to what you would do on a training ride. If you can read a map and change a puncture you could do a local audax.
  • djm501
    djm501 Posts: 378
    Congratulations on your first 200 and nice write up!

    I started audaxing this year and have so far done three - only one has had a larger field than 40 and that was because it was a populaire (only 150k - but it was a grimpeur - ouch).
    Both 200s I've done have had fields of about 25. 200s and above only seem to attract a certain hardcore of (nutters) audaxers.

    They are good rides, full of fine friendly people, designed by riders for other riders - what's not to like? Welcome to the club and Marcus is right - it is very very addictive. I've got a super-randonneur planned this year although it's currently a bit akimbo as the 300 I had planned got snowed off.
  • marcusww
    marcusww Posts: 202
    Hello marylogic, I am very interested in audaxes since reading your thread. I am fairly new to road riding starting oct last year but have been increasing distances and did a 93 mile / 150 km sportive last Sunday. There were only 40 riders in what should have been a 75 mile course . There was a big mess up by the marshals hence the increased distance. This mess up bought all the riders together round the route and the camaraderie was amazing to get over the adverse circumstances. This really made the day for me and I am interested if this great social part of cycling is what audaxes is about I would be grateful of your and any other comments on this.
  • djm501
    djm501 Posts: 378
    I would caution you a little about the 'social' side of things.
    As I said, the fields are generally quite small for the longer rides and are of mixed ability so they quickly spread out. It's been largely solo for me on the three audaxes I've done so far and that's not an unusual occurrence according to the experienced riders. This changes on the really long rides where night time riding is involved and riders will group for mutual benefits apparently but I haven't really done one of those yet so I can't comment.
    I have yet to experience a true group-riding experience on an audax except for in the first few miles.
    You can of course bring along friends an choose to ride with them and I've met several who do that. Or bring a tandem!

    Very sociable at controls and at the start/finish though - that's where you'll meet up with fellow riders mostly.

    Don't let me put you off, I love 'em! - I would just caution you that it's not generally a group riding experience. I thought it was going to be when I started but I was wrong.
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    I would agree that my experience was more a general feeling of mutual respect and camaraderie rather than actual group riding. I liked it because I am happy riding on my own but it is nice to say "hi" at the controls and see others in the same boat. My husband was a "maybe" for the event due to injuries so I was quite prepared to do the whole thing alone. It's more sociable than a solo training ride, but less than a club run if that makes sense?