Audax Sundays

Audax Sundays

** Don’t forget – The Inaugural Willesden CC ‘Club 100’ Audax Style Ride – 26th August 2023 from Rickmansworth ***

Willesden and Audaxing

From the 80s to the late naughties Willesden was one of the UK’s pre-eminent Audax clubs. Legends like Jack Eason, Liz Creese and Peter Turnbull won awards galore:

  • Willesden Members have won the Audax annual individual championship 14 times.
  • The Club has won the Club Audax championship 13 times
  • The late Jack Eason was awarded the “Randonneur of the Millennium” award
  • The Audax hall of fame has about 90 entries and it is peppered with Willesden CC riders.

The premier event in Audaxing worldwide is Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), run every four years (the 2023 edition starts on Monday). Willesden CC has in the past won the Coupe Diverse France for being the British club with the greatest number of PBP finishers. It would be great to get some of that vibe back into the club. My aim as Audax Secretary is to do that with help from everyone in the club.

Audax Basics

I agreed at last week’s club meeting to find six Audaxes a year to become club rides. The events I have chosen first are 100km rides, but UK events are generally 50km,100,200,300,400,or 600km long, with a coupleof epics a year over 1000km so we can ride other distances if people want them. PBP is around 1220km and London-Edinburgh-London(LEL), the four-yearly UK premier event scheduled for August 2025 just unveiled a 1,500km course.

An Audax is not a race and individual riders’ times are not published – if you finish within the time limit, then you’ve succeeded. Events have average speed limits which include stopping time, so the clock keeps ticking through cafe stops and puncture repairs. The strict upper limit, to avoid racing, is 30kph. Lower limits are event dependent and generally range between 10 and 15kph. You are expected to be self-reliant: no arrows, no sag wagon. All events issue routesheets, nearly all GPXs.

There are around 500 rides per year all over the UK. Most are entirely on roads, but some are not. Some are flat, some leg searingly hilly. A big part of the attraction is they tend to take advantage of the local knowledge of the organiser, using roads well known to local riders but not visitors. Our own events, for instance, cover big distances almost completely missing busy roads. Although there are fewer events in the winter, the routes still offer great riding making the most of the conditions.

Details of the events are posted on the Audax UK website – – the home of the UK governing body, which regulates event distances, provides limited quality control of routes and supplies a portal to search, enter and pay for events. Members get a £3 discount on each event and a decent magazine quarterly. Cycling UK members can get the £3 discount. One year membership is £18.

The club runs audaxes, nine in 2023, making it one of the most active UK clubs. Organisers need help. More about running our events in later posts.

The first two club rides

The first audax is the Emitremmus – End of Summertime (Red Hot Chili Pepper reference there!) on the 29th October from Stevenage, setting off at 08:15. This popular ride is mainly in the most rural part of Herts, the east, and crosses over into North Essex, turning at Saffron Walden. Bring lights just in case, but you should be finished in daylight. Easily reached by car on the A1M. and while Stevenage has an excellent train service, unfortunately there are no early Sunday trains* from London getting you there on time. But going mob handed as a club gives us car sharing opportunities. See for event details.

The second is on 14th January, from Kings Worthy, a suburb of Winchester, at 09:30. The ride is the Watership Down which takes you over the Hampshire and Berkshire Downs. Unlike many children’s book locations, Watership Down is a real place where, since they don’t hibernate, you may be able to admire the bunnies. It’s a really quick dash down the M3 or you can take the first train service of the day* from Reading/Elizabeth Line and get to the start just in time. The event organiser is hot on mudguards. Take lights in case. If ice is a worry, you won’t hit a valley until around 10:15. See for details.

As the Audax UK calendar for 2024 fills, more events will be added.

Most audaxes have a fixed entry limit so that long queues for food and drink don’t form outside controls. If events sell out it is typically in the last week to four weeks before the event. So enter as early as possible. You will not get a refund if you fail to turn up, but you generally don’t pay much in the first place.

GPXs and route sheets are generally emailed to entrants a week or two ahead of the event. Many events don’t supply them on the Audax UK website, to discourage freeloaders. Search RidewithGPS with the event name and you will normally be able to find something from the year before, which will generally give a good idea of the route.

Try a 200km event?

A very special one is the Old Roads and Drove Roads on 28th August (Bank Holiday Monday). It’s fairly demanding with 30km or so off-road track. However, it offers a rare opportunity to cycle parts of Salisbury Plain that are normally closed off for the army. It starts from Sparsholt, next to Wantage. See

If you want to ride your first 200, I would recommend you do so before winter sets in. If it’s a big step up in distance for you, it will be a hard learning experience. Long hours of darkness and cold weather can make 200s challenging and stressful from the changing of the clocks through to February. Keep winter for your second 200. lets you search events by length, date and location, and there are a number in our region. Two stand out as starter events: Straight Outa Hackney. follows my 600km event for 50km, so it must be good. Secondly the Brace of Bramleys is run by Kingston Wheelers from Surbiton over mainly gentle hills in Surrey and Hampshire, with just a couple of stiff climbs.

You may have spotted a theme of quirky event names. My favourite is a 600 in the East Midlands that goes through two villages called Kirton. Wait for it… A Pair of Kirtons.

* Based on the current timetable

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