Audax or Sportive - which should I try?

Discussion in 'Sportives' started by Danny, 27 Apr 2008.

  1. Danny

    Danny Legendary Member

    I would like to try taking part in some organised rides but not sure which kind of event to enter.

    I am a reasonably fit cyclist, with a fast touring bike rather than a road bike, who can happily do up to 100k a day, but not at very great speed (I probably average about 20kph).

    My fears are that

    a) Audax events are only for stoical types with beards , and Nelson longflaps, who will happily grind their way through wind, rain, and snow; but will totally ignore a newbie like me (particularly if I am clean shaven).

    :smile: I'll be a complete laughing stock if I turn up at a sportive with anything less than the latest £1,500 carbon superbike; and I won't be able to keep up unless I have gone through the kind of intensive training programme that has featured in the last few issues of C+.

    PS This is my contribution to Admin's "Dare to be different day"
  2. Zoom

    Zoom Über Member

    Danny; well firstly I'm an Audax organiser so am biased but.

    Beards are now only compulsory on Audax rides for female riders :smile:

    Audax events are certainly much cheaper and less competitive than sportives and do attract a broader spread of riders from the full tourer to the sub 8 hour 200 rider so you should be able to find other riders at your pace. I would say try a 100k Audax first, probably worth riding one with a large field (the results page of should twll you how many rode the event last year if it ran). Events do tend to get longer this time of year but there are still plenty of shorter rides.
  3. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Often I think the critical difference in the experience you have on either sort of event, is down to the number of people who are taking part. It really is 'more the merrier': It increases the chance of riding along with someone and meeting new people in the cafés, or at controls.

    Although there are plenty of audax rides that have a good turn out, there are also some that are pretty sparsely attended, and some of the longer ones in particular will involve long stretches on your own, unless you are particularly lucky to fall in with a gang going exactly your pace. I remember one 200k in the Dales that went through places like Hawes and Kirby Stephen where it wasn't even obvious which of the cafés were being used by other riders. Ten hours on your own is ten hours on your own. I don't need to have an event arranged for me to do that!

    Sportives are generally better attended. They are also often 100 miles or so, which is an intermediate step between the 100k and 200k of Audax. Throw in a few hills and the imperial Century does seem to be a distance which many find challenging without being too daunting.

    You get weird people in all groups of cyclists, but on the longer Audax rides they do seem to come to the fore. There's also less people involved with the longer events so they tend to know each other more, which can make it feel more of a clique.

    But you can have fun in each. Try some a see. But I wouldn't worry about the kit you have. I've found in cycling that whatever you do will upset someone. That's just cyclists for you.
  4. yello

    yello Guru

    Personally, I find audax a much more gentle endeavour and a less worrying prospect.

    We're dealing in generalisation here but riders in sportives tend to be more time focused (some audaxers are too) and team shirted, racer-types. Some audaxers may be anti-social beardy, sandal wearers (not that I've really noticed and they certainly don't outnumber the rest of us!) but there is usually a group who are happy to trundle around chatting.

    I have ridden sportives, and I find them useful as a challenge, but an audax for me is more social and less daunting. I rode audaxs before I started on sportives and I suspect I will ride audaxs until I stop riding, whereas my days in sportives are limited.
  5. twentysix by twentyfive

    twentysix by twentyfive Clinging on tightly

    Over the Hill
    I've ridden both and each has it's attraction. Personally I find 200k (the standard Audax distance) just a little far so I only do that sort of distance mid-late summer. Sportives tend to be a bit shorter - 85-100 miles. My main criterion for riding either tho' is that I get a ride in some new (to me) countryside. And I want to ride in quiet lanes. So some sportives don't fit that (Dragon Ride has multiple traffic lights on the route!!) And the ride should be a bit of a challenge - so hillier/longer than I would normally ride. As for th "Race" aspect of sportives - don't worry - treat it as a challenge ride, lots do. And ride with a mate - it takes the strangeness out of the eqaution.
  6. Alves

    Alves New Member

    I've ridden both and find a small group of riders doing a non-competitive ride for a few quid more enjoyable than the bigger more expensive sportives. After you've been on a few Audaxes you will soon recognise and be recognised by others. I rarely ever ride these alone and can always find a group to join, sometimes you have to ask (esp if they are clearly a group of friends) but mostly groups just evolve along the ride.
    I do my Audaxes in Scotland but have had similar experiences in those in the North of England. I have never been cold-shouldered on an Audax.
    Come along, they are great funa nd quite addictive.
    Start with a few 100km rides first and then build up to longer distances, I am sure you will find a generally friendly and co-operative crowd.
  7. CotterPin

    CotterPin Senior Member

    I started out on Audaxes and have gradually moved onto doing a few Sportives. I still do a few 100km Audaxes. In my experience you do get a few of the beard and sandal types on Audaxes but these are usually the longer events. On the 100km rides there is a broader mix of people so you'll probably feel better able to fit in.

    The only other thing to bear in mind is that on Audaxes you have to your own navigation (with a route sheet) whilst Sportives tend to be signed.
  8. OP

    Danny Legendary Member

    Thanks for the various comments.

    I definitely plan to give a 100k Audax a go - but not sure if I could manage 200k.

    I only accused Audax riders of having beards - do any of them really cycle 200k in sandals? :smile:
  9. Audaxes are lots of fun (or they were, when I was fit back in the day:sad:). I found the other riders very welcoming, and the thing I liked about Audax was that you could disappear off on your own all day or find a group going at your pace and stick with them. At every Audax I did I managed to find at least one other person to ride with. You can treat them like a race or like a slow all day pootle, as long as you're within the speed limits.
    All that said, I'm not sure what a Sportive actually is.:smile: Whatever, you'll enjoy Audax, I'm sure.
  10. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    I rode a sportive on Sunday which had only 89 entrants. Talking to one of the organisers a couple of days later he reckons the events peaked about two years ago and entries are down, even events such as the Dragon do not fill up so quickly now. The forthcoming Tour of Pembrokeshire in June has only had about 500 entries to date, despite massive publicity in C+ and space for 3000.

    My own theory is that organisers are making the routes too hard, and are excluding many who find them too much of an ordeal as opposed to a pleasure. 100 miles is a long day even for an experienced and fit rider, throw in every steep climb you can find and add rain and wind and a challenging day out can become a nightmare. They need to ease off a bit.
  11. Greenbank

    Greenbank Über Member

  12. dodgy

    dodgy Guru

    Spot on.

  13. ExRacer

    ExRacer New Member

    Do you think there's just too many of them now?

    I've looked at a calendar on a good site and it's full to the brim of events?
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