St Francis of Assisi Audax

This year, as well as riding some more Brevet de Randonneur events (audaxes), I am trying to give something back to the audax community.  I am working on setting up three events running in the Teesside area.

The first stage has been to contact AUK and apply to become an Audax Organiser.  One of the requirements of an organiser is that they have the backing of an organisation to help them.  It states in the Organisers Handbook that "brevets are not casual affairs"; it is important that an organiser is reliable and that an event is well planned and run, with a good route, sensible controls and that the event will not let down the reputation of AUK.

I approached the coordinator of the north of the UK to start the process and I laid out some of my ideas for a few routes and ideas for how the event might be run.

Regular readers will know that I am part of a church in Ingleby Barwick in the north of England.  Cycling and Church-going are not the best bedfellows as most club-runs are held on a Sunday.  To some extent cyclists end up self-excluding themselves from church services and events.  As a cyclist and Christian, I wanted to create an event which showed cyclists the hospitality that the church community can offer.  I spoke to the PCC and asked for their support, both in prayer and financially; I asked for the church facilities to be provided free of charge.

The PCC were really supportive, even if they were slightly surprised at the distances the audax routes would cover.  The only challenge being a Wedding planned in the church building on the day I was aiming for.  So instead they have offered me the Church School facilities free of charge.

I met with the coordinator of organisers and we talked through the routes, the catering, the planning... pretty much every detail.  We talked about ensuring the risk assessment was completed properly.  My vicar was present too and signed the form to certify that I'm a reliable person, known to him and with experience organising events in the past.

So we are all go... I've been approved as an Audax Organiser.  I have the prayer and support of the Church of England.  I have facilities.  Friends and family have been enlisted to home-bake some cake and quiche.  I have three excellent routes in mind and now I just need to get the route sheets written and the events published in the AUK calendar.

When it comes to planning an audax for the first time, the temptation is to think of taking riders through all your favourite lanes and routes.  But this isn't actually the point of audaxing.  An audax is a long distance cycling event, and the main aim is to ride a long distance.  Pretty routes and scenic views are nice, but the primary concern is the distance.  There are also some guidelines on how much you can interrupt the ride with control points, audaxing is not the same as orienteering and it is not a treasure hunt either.  Controls must be easy to find and routes should be fairly easy to navigate.

Once I had stopped trying to route the events down every one of my favourite little back roads and accepted that distance comes first, route second, I was able to cut down the number of controls.  I still think it would be lovely to ride around the Bransdale loop, but the addition of extra controls to make it happen outweighs the fun of riding it.

Here are the plans as of today:

St Francis of Assisi Audax

Ingleby Barwick Wheelers and Friends Cycling Group

Saturday 14th September 2013

These events will soon be available in the AUK calendar, with online entry and payment via PayPal.

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