You’ve done Ride London and Velo Birmingham… you’ve done the crowds and the queues, the support cars and the narrowly missed gold standards, you are looking for more but now you need less…
Try an Audax, try BRUM 200.
What on Earth is an Audax? It’s a no-frills bicycle ride, where you navigate your way by means of a GPX file or a route sheet. I could go on about the heritage of these events dating back almost a century to Paris-Brest-Paris, but I’d rather stick to the point. There are no special rules on what to wear, no disallowed handlebars, no rule on which bike goes and which doesn’t (see below), all you are asked to do is to obey the highway code. There are no arrows on the route, no marshals, no support vehicles, no gels and no wrappers discarded along the route, no gold and silver standards… it’s just you, likeminded cyclists and a strip of tarmac through the great outdoors.
A road legal velomobile, occasionally spotted at Audax events!
How does BRUM 200 work? It’s simple, you register online and you will receive all the information you need via email ahead of the event. You show up with a roadworthy and road legal cycle, collect your brevet card, get some breakfast and you are ready to go. At defined points, called “controls”, you have to collect proof of passage as requested, which might be a simple piece of information (the name of that cottage by the river…) a printed receipt from a cafe/shop/cash machine or a stamp from an Audax UK volunteer (probably wearing a cycling cap). Each control has an opening time window, wide enough to allow the faster as well as the social riders to get validation. Controls are evenly spaced along the route.
When you get back to HQ, you hand your card and proof of passage to the organiser for validation, congratulations all round and you are done… well, not before supper on the house!
Why are Audax events so cheap compared to sportives? Remove profits, charity donations, electronic timing, giant banners, inflatable arches, leaflets in goodie bags, marshals, broom wagons and in some cases even road closures, you can see that a fun day out doesn’t need to cost the Earth!
How hard is it? The route is 211 km (131 miles) to complete an anticlockwise loop around Birmingham. This might be further than you have cycled before. There are no knee-bending climbs, but the 20 miles between Ironbridge and Wyre forest are particularly undulated. You don’t need to be an athlete to take on the challenge, but it won’t be a walk in the park. Hard work will get you places…
Heather moors at Cannock Chase (km 62)
Ironbridge (km 105)
Grand Union Canal at Knowle (km 206)
What is the etiquette? No racing! Be sensible: in case of rain, heat or a puncture, you are expected to be self-sufficient. You might have been advised by some friends that you need mudguards… here’s the news, you don’t at BRUM 200! However, you might need to carry lights if you think you are going to finish after 9:30 PM… it’s the Highway Code!
What’s included in the entry fee? Use of the village hall, brevet card, GPX file, route sheet, validation by Audax UK (including postal return of your validated brevet card), a light breakfast at the start and a meal at the finish… unpredictable weather and a wonderful route through five counties!
If you can’t make July the 6th, you can still join our club on Strava and take on the permanent challenge on another day.