An Audax ride is a cycle ride that has to be completed within a set time limit, including any stops to eat or rest. It's not a race and individual riders' times are not published; if you finish within the time limit, you've succeeded.
Riders are expected to be self-sufficient. That doesn't mean that you have to ride alone or that you can't call on the services of a friend or colleague to help you with a puncture, but you navigate for yourself and if you do have any mechanical problems along the way, it's down to you to sort them or get yourself home. Some rides offer food along the way; more often, you'll be finding your own sources of fuel, from cafes and pubs to village shops and service stations.
One of the benefits of Audax is that you get to cycle routes that have been lovingly planned and tested by experienced cyclists who generally want to show off the best that their region has to offer. They also tend to know the best places to stop off for food and drink along the way.
Types of route vary widely. Some cram in as many tough hills as possible within a relatively short distance; others are more rolling or almost pancake flat. You can find yourself riding through chocolate-box villages, deep forests or bleak, exposed moorland - sometimes all in the same day. Most routes are mainly on quiet roads, perhaps with the occasional stretch on a busier road linking the smaller lanes. On longer rides, many organisers also try to make navigation as simple as possible for the parts of the ride that are likely to be ridden in the dark by the majority of entrants or to ensure that there are other places to get provisions between the official checkpoints (called "controls").
Almost all return to - or very close to - the start point, making it easier to plan your travel.
As well as many audax events being planned across the UK, we run our own at San Fairy Ann CC, which are hugely popular. The time expectations are not challenging, and most people ride them in a group, stopping off at the various cafes on route. Our routes run from 50km (suitable for the novice rider) to 300km for those who want a challenge!
In 2021 we are planning to run most of our audax events. See the events page for full dates of the length and route of the ride, and how to sign up. Our dates are:
11 July Fairies Flat Five
30 August Man of Kent
3 Oct Fairies Crown rides
Sportives are long distance organised events, the cycling equivalent of running the marathon, which involve completing a set route. Sportive events typically range from anywhere between 50 and 150 miles and, although at their most popular in summer, there are events run all year round.
Sportive routes often (but not always) take in the most challenging roads in their area, with long, steep climbs and descents, testing all round bike riding skills rather than flat out speed. Routes are usually signed, with feed stations and water stops. You can ride them in a group, or just push to do your best time.
San Fairy Ann hosts a very popular Sportive in aid of Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, with a range of distances available. In 2021 it will be on Sunday 13th June. See the events page for full dates of the length and route of the ride, and how to sign up. Click HERE for more details.