Far from the carbon fibre and speed of the triathlon cycling scene that I was once part of, there’s another way to ride. It’s called Audax. And today I received my introduction to the sport through my completion of the 100km 11 of Eleven ride. This brevet is short for Audax, with officially recognised events starting at 200km (shorter rides are only recognised locally, not internationally).
Fourteen riders set off from the Belmont Tavern at 6am this morning (yes, New Year’s Day). For once, I didn’t feel like the odd one out on my elderly steed. The randonneurs arrived on everything from modern carbon fibre bikes to an old single speed steel frame that was built from recycled parts. As someone who loves bikes, it was heavenly. I perved on the bikes as we rode along.
We spent the next few hours cycling along the Brisbane River, crossing all eleven bridges across which you can cycle. The first 60km of the ride were easy. We cruised along relatively flat roads through riverside suburbs and riverside bicycle paths. The group stayed together as we rolled our way through quiet streets; most of the people we saw were heading home after their New Year Eve revelries. It felt good to ride in a bunch moving at a pleasant pace without pressure to race. With a six-and-a-half hour time limit for the 100km, we didn’t need to rush.
This ride was supported. That is, the ride organiser provided food and cold drinks at the two checkpoints: at 28.5km and 64.2km. I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to find the food plentiful and delicious. At the first checkpoint we had cold drinks, grapes, bananas, lollies and home made fruit muffins. At the second, we had cold drinks, grapes, bananas, watermelon, lollies, more muffins, and ham and salad rolls made to order. No one rushed at the checkpoints, we just stood around enjoying the food in the shade of the bridge.
The final 35km of the ride were moderately challenging with some sharp steep climbs. It all culminated in the Gateway Bridge: a tall bridge built to ensure cruise and cargo ships can enter our city. The group had split after the second checkpoint so the group of six I was riding with stopped to take some group photos. Then, we rolled down the other side of the bridge and spun the final five kilometres to the finish at the Belmont Tavern.
I loved the relaxed atmosphere of the ride. I rode faster than I would on my own due to us being in a group but I always felt the pace was comfortable. After a cold drink I had to ride the 26.5km home. The 31′C (88′F) heat took it out of me and I spent most of the afternoon asleep but boy was it worth it. Best start to a New Year ever.