Author Topic: why not audax


why not audax
« on: September 25, 2011 »
Not a question, a list.

First: I can understand the appeal of audax and have considered going down that road. An excellent case has been made by Douglas Carnall, from whose website I quote:

Audax UK co-ordinates most of the ultra-long distance rides in Britain. The point is to ride long distances at a measured pace. This involves cycling independently, and neither too quickly nor too slowly along a pre-determined route, without getting lost, tired, or demoralised. The fitness levels required are attainable by just about anyone: all of the problems in the sport are mental...

Why do it? From the start I didn't plan to set any records. The rules of Audax, with its maxima as well as minima, specifically make it clear that it is not a race...

The beauty of this approach is that it subverts traditional notions of "fitness" and athleticism. The freaks on display at commercial sporting events have long since ceased to represent the pinnacle of any sporting ideal: instead they have come to represent the ultimate representation of the application of technology to the human body, with their science-based diets, training regimes, and drug taking. They are single-minded cyborgs whose metaphors, while interesting for their strangeness, have limited application for ordinary people. It's as though only professional athletes are allowed to be physical, whereas plainly every human being has a physical form which can perform.

Compelling stuff, particularly for someone like me who doesn't approach cycling from a sporty angle and only finds the Tour de France of interest when there are kangaroos involved. Nevertheless, I've a con case to make, so here goes:

The rides have 'controls'
I realise there's a good reason, but clocking in doesn't appeal.

Route finding
Maps are great. Use them all the time. However, combined with controls, or a set point of coordinates to be got through, they take on a different complexion. Freewheeling enjoyment can so easily give way to dissipating distraction. Let's not even get into route sheets whose lefts and rights are enough to make me want to commit origami. One could theoretically make a case for GPS, if it wasn't for the commensurate rise in the number of KLICKfix installations on handlebars, which should be kept uncluttered at all times to avoid gadget creep.

A particularly egregious example, with lock to keep curious children from harming themselves.
Fortunately the EU has banned this along with 100W bulbs.

Maxima & Minima
This encourages the use of a computer. More clutter (see entry above). More numbers (see below).

Feel like a number
Looking at pictures from the recent Paris Brest Paris run, I was put off by the number plates on bikes and sometimes helmets. I know Paris is the center of fashion, but convict couture? Cars should have numbers, not cyclists.

Speaking of PBP, although it's my kind of crazy it flies uncomfortably close to that other French bike thing, what's it called again? The one with "single-minded cyborgs whose metaphors, while interesting for their strangeness, have limited application for ordinary people"...?

Higher than average use of Carradice bags
This is a homegrown British industry. What new Carradice owner hasn't been delighted to open their bag and find it's been stitched and starched by Melissa or Penelope? Yet there is a darker side to Carradice, never mentioned in the promotional literature. It starts with a fondness for cotton duck, escalates into a fetish for re-proofing and sometimes ends in poetry.

Wooden dowels are a sub-fetish.

No pacing rule
You are not allowed to accompany an audaxer unless you are also an audaxer. This is to help stop competitors participants from having an unfair advantage in what is definitely not a competition.

Medals and badges
Are we still in the scouts?

OK, they're kind of nice. But this is the only medal I want:

from the Bicycle Museum of America

Mr Factchecker notes that Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward has a chauffeur, but suggests that, as he is an ex-con, she took his place behind the wheel before they were pulled over to keep him from being sent back to Parkmoor Scrubs.