Anyone who is familiar with Audax rides will probably agree that these are some of the friendliest events you can attend on two wheels. There’s usually bountiful quantities of cake to be consumed en route, an enthusiastic organiser that definitely isn’t doing it for the money (indeed, often any profit is given to charity), and good sprinkling of vintage saddle and bar bags loaded up with sandwiches and maybe even a flask. It’s a wonderful world away from the testosterone, corporate branding and gels that so often mark a sportive.
The downside of Audax events is that you do have to find your own way, and they’re usually long – at least 100km – and they’re on the road.
However, joy and delight, for we’ve just spotted that there are two Audax events that will be taking in a good chunk of gravel riding. Whoop! They are both on the same day, so you’re going to have to choose between the 115km ‘Don’t Keep to The Road’, or the 100 mile ‘Moor Gravel Forever’, both starting near Thirsk in North Yorkshire.
‘Don’t Keep To The Road’ is described as:
‘100-anna-bit kms, with the usual mix of bastard hills, offroad climbs and descents, abandoned railways, hidden valleys, forestry trails and pubs. But one less pub this year as I’ve decided the control at Hawnby isn’t required. You can still stop there for a pint, of course.’
Entry cost? £5 in advance. No, that isn’t a typo.
It is a mixture of road and off road, making tyre choice interesting (though you can probably guarantee there will be some old guy there who was part of the original Rough Stuff and is ‘just riding his bike’). Here’s a map showing how much is off road:
Moor Gravel Forever is the same loop, but with an extra loop farther into the Moors making it up to 100 miles, or 150km(ish-anna-bit), described as:
‘More gravel. More hills. A lovely cafe in Lealholm.’
Entry cost? £7 in advance. Again, no typo.
If you’ve got a road loving friend, they can always go and ride the 300km (again, not a typo) event running the same weekend, while you camp over and join in the after party.
The organiser says:
‘There’s free camping* and food at the start and finish, and an all-night after-ride party. I think we eventually went to bed at 4am last year – with the 300 on the same day, I’m hoping riders on the 150 will be finishing at around the same time as riders on the 300. It’ll be a great atmosphere – it was last year.
* It really is free, but I’ll almost certainly wave a charity tin in the direction of anyone camping, cos the start/finish is my mate’s farm, and all proceeds from the ride will go to a charity of his choice. No obligation though.’
This all sounds like it could be the best less-than-a-tenner we could spend next year…though we might spend more than that in the cafes and pubs en-route!