King of Fixed?
14.05.07 by Buffalo Bill
I just got my favourite cycle magazine in the post. No, not London Cyclist. It’s Arrivee. Arrivee is the magazine of Audax UK (often shortened to AUK), the long-distance cyclists’ club. They organise randonnees in the UK. A randonnee is not a race, although randonneurs can be quite competitive, it’s more like a trial. Audax is latin for daring, and a good randonneur should be willing to challenge themselves, whilst being well prepared and self-sufficient.
The most famous Audax randonnee, Paris-Brest-Paris, first run in 1891, was conceived [as] a test [by the organiser] “not primarily of speed but brains, skill and endurance.” He had hit upon the idea of a 750 mile (1200 km.) event going from Paris to Brest on the Atlantic Ocean and returning to Paris. Could a man with the aid of nothing more than his muscles accomplish such a feat? The medical establishment of the time didn’t think so. Doctors universally condemned the idea as sheer lunacy. “The bicycle in such overdoses will kill the rider just as surely as an overdose of arsenic” one medical expert of the time wrote.
Not all Audaxes are this long. Many are less than 200k, and as short as 50k. However, to be a certified Audax Club de Paris Randonneur, you have to complete at least a 200k randonnee. To qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, which is run every four years, you must complete a 200, 300, 400 and 600 in the same year. This is the basic Super Randonneur Series. I am sure you are getting the picture. A true randonneur should not only be willing to challenge themselves, be well-prepared and self-sufficient, but must be a complete head-banger as well.
Caspar and I did a 200k Audax a couple of years ago. Caspar couldn’t walk properly for a couple of weeks afterwards. Served the bastard right for daring to drop me on the last hill.
Anyway, in the latest edition of Arrivee is a report by Steve Abrahams on his latest lunatic endeavour, sorry, amazing achievement, which is riding the Great Triangle for the third time in slightly over 9 days. What’s the Great Triangle, you ask, apart from being an act of barely conceivable folly (which it is)?
The Great Triangle commences from Steve’s house (somewhere in the Midlands), arrives at Dover, turns right and then heads down to Land’s End, u-turns and goes north all the way to John O’Groats. And then goes home again. That’s 2100 MILES in 9 days and 50 mins. That’s an average of, oh, let’s not even go there. My arse hurts from just thinking about doing the maths.
OK, so are you ready for the really mind-bending bit?
He did it all on a flip-flop hub, running a 78 and 87 inch gear, fixed-wheel.
A short history of Paris-Brest-Paris (from which I took the quote).