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All About Audax

What Is Audax? photo by Carmela Pearson

What Is Audax?

In brief, audax is non-competitive, time-limited, long-distance cycling. Audax events aren't races; they are undertaken with success measured by completion rather than speed. In audax, the only race is the one against the clock.

Classic audax distances these days are 200, 300, 400 and 600km, although rides can be a lot shorter and a lot longer. As the time limits required to complete events are generous, audax appeals to a wide variety of cyclists - whether they are from a touring, racing, recreational, or commuting background - enabling them to set and achieve riding goals with a group of like-minded riders. The challenge of audax is not in racing, but in pushing one's own boundaries and experiencing great personal achievements.

photo by Carmela Pearson

Audax History

Audax History

First French audax ride on Easter Monday, April 3rd 1904, on a route between Paris and Gaillon.

photo courtesy of BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

Audax, the name meaning 'bold' or 'courageous' in Latin, has its origins in Italian endurance sports of the late nineteenth century. In a group of Italian cyclists rode 200 km from Rome to Naples, and became known as les Audacieux. However, it was only in 1904 when the Audax regulations were formalized by Henri Desgrange, the father of the Tour de France.

Currently, there are two forms of audax. In the original form, referred to as the Euraudax, participants ride in group at a steady pace set by a road captain. The group aims to cycle at 22.5km/h between designated stopping points and have all group members finish together within the time limit. While this form of audax still exists in Europe, it has been less popular than the later free-paced form known as randonneuring where participants can ride at their own pace either individually or in a group. The common thing though in both forms is that each participant carries a brevet card which is stamped at checkpoints along the route. This card acts as a type of passport and serves to certify that a cyclist has completed every section of the ride within the designated time limits.

The official organisation for the original audax style is the Union des Audax, while the official organisation for randonneuring is the Audax Club Parisien. Both governing bodies are based in France.


Randonneuring photo by Zean Villongco

Randonneuring

The randonneur spirit is ideally characterized by cooperation over competition. Even so, randonneés or brevets, the term for any randonneuring event, are run under the clock, with riders expected to complete the event within a prescribed time and pass through all control points, some of which may be secret. The sport also incorporates an element of orienteering, as riders are required to follow a 'cue sheet' of the prepared route. Furthermore, riders are expected to be fully self-sufficient, carrying their own food, water, spare clothing, and tools.

Cyclists considering a brevet should not be deterred from participating by thinking that they need specialized equipment or a randonneuring bicycle. A good randonneuring bicycle is any bicycle on which the rider is comfortable. At any brevet, one will find riders of every age and ability...and bicycles of every age and design.

Brevets organized by duly recognized randonneuring clubs worldwide are registered with the Audax Club Parisien, which records the brevet results. Cyclists who complete a basic series of 200, 300, 400, and 600 kilometer brevets within a designated audax season are awarded the Super Randonneur medal by the Audax Club Parisien. This basic series also represents the qualification for riders wishing to enter the quadrennial, 1200 kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris – the most prestigious of all brevets.

photo by Zean Villongco

Paris-Brest-Paris

Paris-Brest-Paris

A cyclist on a recumbent bike during the 2015 Paris-Brest-Paris event

photo courtesy of TeamMooseIsLoose.com

The majority of brevets are relatively small and locally organized, making for a busy calendar of events for enthusiasts. However, there are also some particularly well-known and prestigious events which attract participants from all over the world, and the most prestigious among these is perhaps the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP).

Sometimes referred to as the Blue Riband randonnée, the PBP is an approximately 1,200 kilometers event held on an out-and-back course between Paris and Brest every four years. It started in as a race and was regarded as the precursor to the Tour de France. In , riders in the PBP were separated into three categories: a professional category of cyclists who were in it for the competition, and two non-professional categories, one of which were audax cyclists riding as a group and maintaining a steady pace, and the other being allure libre (free-paced) cyclists who were riding individually in the spirit of self-sufficiency. As interest in long distance cycling had waned in favor of stage events like the Tour de France, the professional race part of the PBP was lost in , leaving only the randonneuring part of the event. However, in the audax and the allure libre groups split up and formed two different PBP events. Today, the Audax Club Parisien runs the event every four years in their allure libre format, while the Union des Audax runs it every five years in their audax format.

The most recent Paris-Brest-Paris was held in and was attended by more than 6,000 participants from more than 50 countries. Ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 80,and more than a hundred different cycling machines – including recumbents, elliptigos, rowing bikes, and fixies – were seen during the event.


Audax Medals

Audax Medals

All Audax finisher medals are standard across all accredited Audax organising countries and are all sourced from France.

We understand that they are not cheap that is why Audax Randonneurs Philippines has made this optional and did not embed it with the registration fees.