Unlike racing, long-distance cycling has to be approached with a different mindset and survival strategy. More often than not, it's more of a mental game than a physical one. An audax ride is a self-sufficient ride and a lot of planning has to be done prior to the ride itself. Please see tips that have been tried and tested in the past rides. If you have some more to add, please don't hesitate to share them with us!
Tip #1: Ride at your aerobic pace
They key to finishing an ultracycling event is to stay as comfortable as you can throughout the ride.
Tip #2: Plan your nutrition well
This is a self-sufficient ride. However, Audax PH has support vehicles at the control points. You can arrange to have your special needs bag at the control points during early registration. Your special needs bag can contain comfort food, your salt sticks / electrolytes, a spare cycling kit, energy drinks and supplements, extra lights, chocolate bars, etc. Knowing that you have a special needs bag at the control point can motivate one to keep on going.
Tip #3: Do not attack the hills
In connection with Tip #1, attacking the hills will usually get you out of your aerobic pace. It's ok to go slow. I've seen some of the best audax riders pace themselves very well and finish the ride strong compared to those who race up the hills and look like broken men / women at the finish.
Tip #4: Go for an organic nutritional strategy
Especially for audax distances more than 200km. Energy bars and gels are ok for the 200km ride but experience has shown that if one is doing more than that, less processed food is best and gets absorbed by the body faster. My favorites are pasta with olive oil and tuna, cereal bars, cereals with milk and lots of fresh fruits. What's yours?
Tip #5: Compartmentalize the distance
It can be quite overwhelming to visualize the entire audax distance. It mentally helps a lot if one will focus on the distance up to the next control point. This has proven very effective when we did the 1200km in France in 2011.
Tip #6: Eat! Eat! Eat!
Even if you don't feel hungry, keep on eating during the ride and at the control points. The best audax riders I've met are experts in eating while on their saddle and would eat the moment they arrive at a control point (after having their brevet cards stamped, of course!).
Tip #7: Train!
There's nothing like having a good foundation for this ultimate endurance cycling event. One doesn't have to do the entire audax ride they are preparing for but one has to be consistent in training. In 2011, doing 300-350km on a weekend and riding at least 150km mid-week helped a lot. Know your riding conditions. If there will be hills, train for hills. If there will be cold, train for the cold. If the ride is during the hot season, train for the hot. If it will be a wet ride, ride through the rain. Paris-Brest-Paris has 10,000 meters of vertical climbing, so hills training is a must!
Tip #8: Have your brevet cards stamped right away
Your time stamp will be your official "chip time". A lot of people have argued that they have arrived earlier than their stamped time simply because they have dilly-dallied when they reached a control point. There are no transponders during an audax... just good old-fashioned stamping!
Tip #9: Rest and recover
Prior to the ride, make sure you are well-rested. At the control points, take your time to recover. After the ride, eat and sleep to your body's satisfaction. Do not compromise this as this is vital for energy conservation and cell regeneration.
Tip #10: Listen to your body
If you feel sick during the ride, do not continue. There will be other audax rides that you can do in the future. This is the time to think about what went wrong and promise yourself to do better in the next ride.
Tip #11: Focus on your reason for doing the ride
There will be a lot of times that you will question yourself during the ride. It helps that you have this one big reason for finishing it. Audax rides are simple... no funfare, no podiums, no celebrations... Basically, it's a no-frills type of ride. The true audax spirit lies in the fact that one takes comfort for just finishing the distance... for pushing one's self and knowing one's limits. A lot of happy finishers would always say that they never really thought of finishing an audax ride but they just wanted to know if they can really do it.