What is audax? Part 3
We have come to the elephant in the room, the question everyone new to audax has to ask: isn't 22.5kph only like 13mph?! Basically, isn't that really slow? While 22.5 means feasibility to beginners and those looking to return to cycling or up their distances for the first time, it might scream boredom and a lot of waiting around for experienced endurance cyclists. Here's why 22.5kph is more of a challenge than some may think:
We're talking total average speed. That starts from the planned roll-out and includes all stops, with a longer stop every 40-70km. These stops are not common for "experienced" club cyclists or racers. This irregularity adds to the difficulty and breaks up mundane time in the saddle.
There is also a max speed, so a faster cyclists cannot use the momentum based techniques of racing and time trialing. The average speed has to be accomplished by genuine regularity.
These kinds rides used to be the standard testing ground for bicycles and cycling equipment. The regular tempo, extra long duration, and rolling support team permit riders to test out a new bike, a new setup or piece of equipment, or even a loaded touring bike. This is the ride to dial your nutrition, ingrain confidence in yourself and your equipment, and practice trusting and depending on those around you.
First and foremost, audax cyclists are athletes. But while we may be on the sporting side of outdoor activities, audax remains a kind of cyclo-tourism. This is evident by the destination based routes and emphasized by the absence of high speed and intensity. Imagine finishing a 4 hour plus ride and getting slower the closer you get, not because you're barely making it but because you don't want to stop riding. It's easy to get caught up in finishing, and cycling becomes something to get done with. The goal of audax is to enjoy the ride from start to finish!
Because the group has varied skills and cycles and the terrain and wind will not be the same throughout the ride, maintaining a steady pace is not simple when the emphasis is on solidarity, cohesion, and cooperation. This gives stronger riders plenty to stay focused on during a ride, including positioning, gear choice, rolling speed, top speed, morale, etc.