How far do you go?
On our weekly audax, we go 100km which is about 62 miles. But we are training to do 200km by finishing 100 better and fresher, more topped off with food and more confident about how "normal" 5 hours on the bike is.
How fast do you go?
We try to keep a strict itinerary and complete our rides as close to 22.5kph average speed. But this is for the whole ride, including stops, planned and unplanned. In order to complete an Audax, We have to finish with an average speed between 20 and 25kph. In practice, we roll about 12 or 13mph. And we ride with very regular pace, very little ups and downs, and absolutely no spikes in speed from attacks or sprints.
What is the max speed?
That's hard to answer because sometimes, going downhill, we can hit speeds of over 40kph. Of course, we're not trying to hold that speed. In fact, if we are going that fast, we are looking for opportunities to slow down. There aren't strict rules about maximum and minimum rolling speed because, in order to meet our goal of 22.5kph average speed, it may be necessary for us to ride at a variety of different speeds. We might touch a high speed for a moment, but we don't push through it; we're trying to finish together by riding together. It is gutsy to give away speed, but we're audacious enough to do it!
How hard is it?
This is also not easy to answer. Some riders have more experience riding or doing other endurance sports. Some bicycles have faster rolling tires or are more aerodynamic. Some riders have never been on a bike ride so long and some are on bikes that have never been ridden that far. The route is chosen independently from the weather, so sometimes hot, cold, rain, or wind can dramatically increase the difficulty of an audax. This can also be true in the event of unforseen mechanicals or physical/bodily problems. Everyone on the ride is helping everyone else to make it to the end. Our main priority is finishing together; this means making one person's difficulty a problem shared and addressed by all the other riders.
Do you have to be really serious?
Clowns are definitely welcome on the ride. But even they have to be focused enough to make it to the end and do it on schedule. But don't get the wrong impression, you don't have to be a cycling enthusiast to ride an audax. There are certain physical requirements, so you might need time to prepare physically and get your bike to a dependable state mechanically, but audax riders don't have to train every day. While some of us ride throughout the week, and some of us do specific training for racing, not all of us have the same personal cycling goals. Audax lets the goals of triathlete and road racers align with weekend warriors and people brand new to endurance activities.
What if I've never done anything like that before?
You want to be confident in your ability to ride for 2 hours, at a steady pace. Ideally that would be around 20kph, but the specifics are less important than being able to ride steady. You need to be confident in your bike, that it won't break and that it shifts and stops correctly. On a group ride other people's safety depends on your caution. Don't be afraid to try it. Audax is a sport about adopting new participants. Part of the challenge is helping new people, and learning through teaching, demonstration, and real-world situations. Every audax is unique, and new people are always part of that dynamic. You won't know until you try it!
And don't be afraid to ask more questions, these certainly aren't all of them out there.