Ride Long – Capabilites of an Audax rider
3 minute read
I’ve previously wrote about what a good audax bike might look like. Many of you might wonder what it takes to complete a 200km audax event within the allowable time, and remember if you finish in 12 hours, or 8, you are both finishers. It’s not a race.
I would describe 4 personal capabilities required if you are to complete a 200km ride within the 15 km/hr slowest overall pace (yes thats less than 10mph :0) )
The first and most obvious capability is a level of fitness. The simplest way I can think of describing the minimum level of fitness would be to say that if you can hang onto one of Matthew Alexander G‘s steady rides, then you are probably fit enough. The average pace is higher than required, and the distance around half of a 200. Provided you are able to utilise the later 3 capabilities, you will get round just fine. I know this because I can hang onto a steady ride, and I do mean hang on…especially on the hills.
If you can ride with the Brisk or Fast groups, then you will get round just fine, and probably be home before I arrive at the finish!
The second capability required, is that of pace judgement. Ideally you will pace yourself well enough to be able to ride the last couple of hours of the ride feeling good and still riding strongly. A lot of people find this hard. It takes a strong willed person to allow others to ride away from them on a hill, or into a headwind. The key for me to good pacing, is to keep the effort level consistent. Making hard efforts will fatigue you far quicker than riding at even effort. I have an alert set on my Garmin at the max of level 2. For me this is 116 bpm, based on a max heartrate of 152. If on a climb or on the flat I see the alert, then I will ease off. If others ride away from me, that’s just fine. This capability is really important for ‘steady’ group riders, and less so for ‘brisk’ and ‘fast’ riders, who are less likely to be put under such pressure that they jeopardise their ability to finish.
The third capability is self reliance. This covers a host of issues from not worrying if faster riders pull away from you leave you alone, knowing that you can stay on the route without having to follow others, through to knowing you can swiftly deal with the most likely mechanical failure, a puncture. By being self reliant, you wont have to wait till the next riders come along for navigation or help fixing a problem. I would caveat this capability with a comment that there are circumstances in which you might want to stay with others such as riding at night if you feel uneasy riding alone on unfamiliar roads, or maybe in bad weather, where having others to help resolve a problem, can be reassuring.
The final capability is the ability to avoid faffing. You can complete a 200 with a remarkably low moving average provided you keep on the bike for the vast majority of the time. Try to avoid stopping every few miles, and if you do stop, make sure you do all the things that need doing in one go. For instance, if its getting near dusk and you need a pee stop, consider putting your front and rear lights onto their low settings and putting on long fingered gloves if its getting chilly.
Strong riders will get round despite riding a little too hard in the first half, occasionally getting lost, and stopping every time something needs attending to. If you are a so called ‘full value rider’ then you will need to eek out your fitness by good pacing, keeping on the right route, and by minimizing stops, potentially to the controls only.
As before, if the more experienced audax riders have any differing views then please feel free to air them for the benefit of future audax riders.
For more information on this article or anything Audax, please contact Adrian
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