WHAT IS AUDAX UK?
Audax United Kingdom (known as Audax UK or AUK) is the foremost long-distance cycling association in the UK, and the biggest in the world. It was established in 1976. AUK oversees the running of long-distance cycling events, and, using a system of timed checkpoints, validates and records every successful ride.
CAN ANYBODY RIDE AUDAX UK’S EVENTS?
Although technically, AUK does not ‘run’ events – these are run by clubs or individuals under AUK’s supervision.
When a non-member enters an event, there is a small additional fee over and above the usual entry fee, which gives the rider ‘temporary membership’ of AUK for the duration of the event. This is necessary for insurance reasons.
WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘AUDAX’ MEAN?
It’s Latin for ‘bold’, and was first used in the context of endurance sports towards the end of the 19th century.
WHAT DO THE WORDS ‘RANDONNÈE’ AND ‘RANDONNEUR’ MEAN?
‘RandonnÈe’ is a French word which loosely translates to ‘ramble or ‘long journey’ – it’s not really cycling-specific, but in AUK we take it to mean a long cycle ride.
A ‘Randonneur’ is a person who has completed a recognised 200 kilometre ride.
WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘BREVET’ MEAN?
It means ‘certificate’, more or less. So it’s the card you carry, which gets stamped at controls and finally validated by AUK as proof of your ride.
The word is often also used to describe the event itself – ie, a certificated ride.
HOW LONG IS ‘LONG-DISTANCE’?
The ‘classic’ distances for AUK events are 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km. (200km is approximately 125 miles – kilometres are used because of AUK’s close links with other similar organisations throughout the world, and particularly in France.) Most AUK events are either 200km or 100km.
However AUK aims to have something for everybody and events start from 50km (about 32 miles) and go all the way up to 1400km (about 875 miles), and even this is not the limit because there are set routes, known as ‘Permanents’, which span the length and breadth of the country and go up to 3200km.
HOW NON-STOP IS ‘NON-STOP’?
The maximum time allowed to complete the ride is measured from the time you set off, to the time you finish. There are no allowances for breaks, meals, rest, sleep or mechanical breakdown. So in practical terms this means you have to ride fast enough to generate your own time buffers, especially on the longer events where you will need to rest or even sleep for a while.
This is not as tough as it may sound, as the maximum time limits are quite generous, with this in mind.
WHAT ARE AUK EVENTS LIKE?
They are NOT races. People ride them more in the spirit of an event like the London Marathon, everyone riding to their own limitations with the primary objective to just ‘get round’. These events suit everyone, clubmen, time-trialists, recreational riders, cycletourists, ‘born again’ cyclists, young and old, male and female. And you’ll see all sorts of machines – bikes, tandems, trikes, recumbents, and occasionally even stranger things …
Size of entry varies greatly but is typically around 100 starters. Small local events may have just a handful of riders while a few popular events attract 200 starters or more.
The routes typically feature a few fast main roads and a lot of quiet, scenic lanes. Many events are quite hilly, some are extremely hilly, and even the flatter ones usually have one or two challenging climbs. Some events are noted for the quality of home-cooked food and tender loving care supplied along the way. But most are not – self-sufficiency is a highly-regarded quality in AUK.
On the same theme, ‘support’ – for example a following car – is very much frowned upon. There are maximum and minimum time limits, which are designed to suit everyone from the fittest of recreational riders, to more occasional riders who have plenty of determination. Each rider carries a ‘brevet card’ which is stamped at intermediate checkpoints and at the finish, and which is later returned to the rider as a certificate of their achievement.
The success rate on these events is very high – probably only about 10% fail to finish.
WHAT DO I GET TO SHOW FOR IT ALL?
Every ride completed within the time limit is held by AUK to be an achievment and is recorded as such in AUK’s permanent archives. The original brevet card is stamped and numbered by AUK and returned to the rider. On some events, marked in the Calendar as ‘RM’, the records are also held in the archives of Audax Club Parisien (or ACP), which is the world’s oldest-established long-distance cycling organisation. On these events the card is also stamped and numbered by ACP before return.
Successful riders are entitled to buy AUK’s cloth badges and metal medallions for the various standard distances, and some big events have special versions of these as well.
AUK also runs an Awards structure for various combinations of events. For example, someone who rides a 200, a 300, a 400 and a 600km in the same season becomes a ‘Super Randonneur’ and a list of these elite is published every year in the Handbook. At another level, someone who rides 10x100km events over any period of time, gains a ‘Brevet 1000’.
AUK also runs a Championship structure, for the riders covering the greatest total distances in events during the year, with various categories including Juniors, Veterans, Trikes and so on. You need to have plenty of spare time on your hands to be in the running for these though – the record so far is 28,700 – equivalent to 144 200km rides in a year, or nearly 3 per week, summer and winter!
IF CAN’T FINISH FOR SOME REASON, WHAT HAPPENS? DO I GET PICKED UP?
Generally, no. Do not expect a ‘sag waggon’ on these events, unless the organiser has said otherwise. Nor can you expect the finish, or any intermediate control, to be manned after the closing time as printed in your brevet card. You would be expected to make your own way back to your transport or directly home. It is common courtesy though, to get a message to the organiser if you possibly can.
CAN I CLAIM AN EXTRA TIME ALLOWANCE FOR GOING OFF-ROUTE?
You can try. But you are most unlikely to succeed!
IS IT RIGHT THAT MUDGUARDS AND LIGHTS ARE COMPULSORY?
AUK’s regulations used to require mudguards – but not any more. Some events may require mudguards, but that depends on the individual organiser. In the Calendar, the code M indicates that mudguards may be required. Otherwise, they are not required, though their use might be ‘encouraged’ by some organisers.
Lights are required by British law if you ride between the times of dusk and dawn. In practice this could happen on any of AUK’s events except a few summer 200s and some shorter events.
ARE TRI-BARS ALLOWED?
HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT EVENTS?
AUK’s Calendar is online, at Calendar.
Some events are advertised in magazines such as Cycling Weekly and Cycletouring & Campaigning.
HOW DO I ENTER AN AUK EVENT?
A standard Event Entry Form is available for download.
Entry must be made using this form or one that is textually similar, or the entry may be rejected. Entry fees vary from event to event, and are subject to a small surcharge for non-members.
Entry must be made in good time before the date of the event – if your entry is received less than 2 weeks before the start it may be rejected. Also several events have a limit on size of entry – so enter in good time to be sure of a place.
IF I JOIN AUK, WHAT DO I GET FOR MY MEMBERSHIP FEE?
Audax UK is a non-profit organisation and the bulk of your membership fee goes into production of the quarterly magazine. But in total –
- A yearly Handbook and yearly hardcopy Calendar.
- A quarterly A4 magazine, called ArrivÈe, packed with information, event updates, letters, stories and photographs.
- Inclusion in the AUK Awards and Championships structure.
- And the all-important 3rd-party insurance while participating in AUK events.
- And the warm glow you get from belonging to the world’s largest long-distance cycling club.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION?
Visit the Audax UK website