Audax, or more accurately brevets have become an integral part of both my training and preparation for events. As a member of Randonneurs NL I have taken part in many brevets, including a couple of the 600 km ones. My plan had been to complete the Super Randonneur series (that’s a 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevet) in 2019 to to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris but sadly a bad accident (broken hip) while taking part in a 600 km brevet last September has made this impossible, as I am still on the road to recovery.
Riding an Audax is a really good way of training for Ultra Cycling Races as the emphasis is (usually) on pacing, or meeting a certain personal cut-off time. On the longer events it’s usual to ride with the pack for as much as possible, but this seldom works for me as I don’t take the meal breaks that most of my fellow riders do. This frequently sees me leapfrogging those riders out front when they stop before they catch me again as a pack. The sequence is then repeated. It’s also a great opportunity to test out your navigation devices, especially if you do end up riding sections alone.
Another benefit is of course to work out your most comfortable position on the bike, certainly important when doing the longer events. I even test out carrying kit that I wouldn’t use, for example you’re unlikely to need bivvy kit on a 300 or 400 km brevet but I frequently include it in my saddle pack. Eating, as I’ve discussed above is also something you should work on. If you are not training for an Ultra, then there’s little point in not taking regular breaks with the other riders. However if like me you are using them as preparation and training rides, then you should also adopt a similar feeding strategy as you would in your race.
The great thing about riding Audax though is you can always find a level to suit you and they are good events for expanding your riding of longer distances. Camaraderie is usually pretty high as there’s a feeling amongst the riders of looking out for each other; I’ve found this in both the UK and European ones I’ve taken part in. Most Audax clubs will allow you to go along and do a ride or two before you are encouraged to join, so I’d heartily recommend giving it a go, even if you are not interested in doing the Ultra distances.