Saturday, 10 September 2011

Audax Advice

I recently announced my intention on CycleChat to attempt the London-Edinburgh-London (LEL) in 2013 - a 1400 km endurance cycle ride over 116 hrs. I received some supportive replies and then Greenbank posted a very helpful one. Thanks Greenbank. I think it's a really useful framework and hope to use it a fair bit. These are my thoughts on it at present (Greenbank's text in blue). 
Picture credit to be added

For someone considering it in 2013 I'd suggest a minimum of:-

a) Start doing Audaxes now (if you're not already doing them). You can dip your toe in with a 100km if you like, everyone starts somewhere. Just start.

I am happy riding 85 miles (136 km) with camping gear at a nice pace. I plan to start with a 200 km ride at the end of September. Will be a more focused kind of riding but the 200 km doesn't faze me.

b) Ideally you'd work up to 200km rides within a few months and keep that going over the winter, there are some lovely winter 200s in the calendar. Don't worry too much if you don't, but you should be happily doing a 200km ride by Feb/March 2012.

See above.

Also don't worry if you finish close to the time limit on a winter ride. I'm near the back of the field usually and took ~13 hours for a winter 200 in the run up to LEL'09. Even at my fastest in the summer I'm still taking at least 10 hours for a 200. For the longer rides I've rarely finished with more than an hour to spare, and minimal sleep.

I hope to complete 200 km in 11 - 13 hrs (you have 13.5 hrs at this distance). I suppose I'll know soon enough.

c) Aim for an SR (200, 300, 400, 600km) in 2012. (an SR is short for Super Randonneur. Anyone completing an Audax of 200 km or over is entitled to call themselves a Randonneur. Someone doing a 200 km, 300, km, 400 km and 600 km events in one calendar year prefix this title with 'Super'. They have completed an SR). 

An SR in 2012 would be perfect, but not absolutely required, preparation. There are plenty of people that didn't do any long distance riding until 6 months before LEL 2009. 

Really? Did they do OK?

However, the more prepared you are the less likely you are to fail.


What you almost might find is that night riding just isn't for you. If you're not fast enough to minimise it then you may find that rides longer than 300km just aren't for you (I know several people who've found this), but give it a few tries before deciding this.

Looking forward to trying the night riding. Have always been a night Owl. Shift work is in my blood!

The SR isn't just physical preparation, it's mental preparation. You need to get to know how you deal with sitting on the bike all day and, sometimes, all night. You need to know how you deal with sleep deprivation. You need to know whether you have the mental strength to keep going rather than just giving up when you reach an inevitable low point. You need to learn how to listen to your body, when it's hungry and needs food (almost always during an Audax), when you're dozy, when you're thirsty, etc. Learning how you deal with stuff never stops, so don't assume a single SR series and you've got it licked.

Sounds more than reasonable.

d) Aim for at least an SR in 2013 in the run up to LEL.

I'll try!

If you can go for hillier rides (with AAA points) then even better. Lots of bits of LEL are flat but the Northern section is quite hilly (but worth it for the scenery). 

I want to organise a DIY Audax (literally a Do It Yourself route) of 300 km over Yad Moss (a high road on the LEL). Will be good to know I have done this section if I actually get there on the LEL itself. Also planning on riding the 200 km Manchester Loop which I believe is quite hilly. 

Obviously, the more you can do in advance the better. Each training ride or each Audax means you'll suffer a little less on LEL itself (and hopefully not 'suffer' at all).

I've got time plus an understanding and supportive wife (are you reading this oh love of my life?). I'll do as much as I can fit around working full time and being an attentive and loving husband and father!

1 comment:

  1. Over 10 years ago I did a 1000k Audax. Having completed an SR I was fairly ready.
    If you can fit in a couple of 600k rides it will give you a good idea of what to expect. I found there were generally two types of Audax riders. Those who could ride near the maximum allowed pace (approx 18kp/h), sleep for a few hours at appropiate times and those that rode at a slower pace but didn't really stop. One guy used to ride in his short sleeved polka dot jersey and 'sleep' standing up in phone boxes!
    My only advice is if you have a kip for a few hours, take your shoes off! I slept in mine and woke up in agony with 500km still to ride :-(