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Audax Beginner's Guide


Introduction


In the last few years, the non-racing side of cycling has really taken off.  More and more riders want to have a sporting ride, but without necessarily taking part in competitions.  Although labelled Audax, this web page will tell you what are the essential differences between the various types of non-racing events that are available?

Club Runs


These are just club rides.  People get together at a set time on usually a Sunday or Saturday morning and ride together.  Usually a group will be about 20 strong.  The start and finish is from a place close to where they all live.  A route is often decided on the day depending on what sort of ride the riders in the group want to do.  The pace can vary from 15 mph up to something approaching racing speed for fit ambitious groups of riders.  Some groups may decide to stop briefly in a cafe at some point along their chosen route.  There is little formality, no maps or signs, no entry fee, just a group of like-minded people riding together.

Reliability Rides


These are something of a forerunner to sportives.  They are intended as a helpful step towards fitness for club riders who want to start their racing season later on in the year.  They tend to take place in January and February attracting a few hundred riders from the clubs in the surrounding area.  A typical reliability ride would start in a village hall some distance out of town - so some participants drive out, but many will still ride to the start to "get the miles in".  The route will have been pre-determined by the organisers and normally a route card is issued.  The idea is to ride around this route, usually with a group, at a set average speed - neither too fast nor too slow, though the schedules err on the quick side.  There is usally an entry fee payable on the day and copious tea and cake in the village hall at the end.  If you want to try some reliability rides, keep an eye on the Forum at the start of the year to see who is riding them and to get more details.

Audax


There are many similarities between Audax and reilability rides, though there is less emphasis on group riding and you would normally chose for yourself the particular pace you want to set.  But the principles of a route card to follow and a set window for the average speed you must ride at are the same.  Checkpoints along the way ensure you keep to these.  One other small difference is that in some events your bike must be fitted with mudguards and another is that Audax events need not be run off in the depths of winter!  Visit http://www.aukweb.net/ for more details.

Sportives


Cyclosportives if you wish to borrow from the French, Gran Fondos if you prefer Italian.  In either case, these are thoroughly well-organised sporting rides run all over Europe and increasingly popular in the UK.  The number of participants can vary from a few hundred up to 10,000 in some continental events.  A typical sportive would begin and end somewhere worth visiting, the route would be fully signposted, there would be feeding stations on the longer rides and most would have timing systems and completion certificates.  At the head of affairs abroad, it can be a real race, with top prize money going to the leading riders.  But the same event would also provide a ride for thousands of others taking a more leisurely pace and just setting themselves a personal challenge.