Origins and history of Audax UK


The idea of Audax was first formulated in Italy. Participants had to swim, run, walk, or cycle a set distance in 14 hours which was approximately the time between sunrise and sunset. The distance to be covered by cycling was 200 kilometres.
Henri Desgranges produced Audax regulations - these were the property of his magazine Auto and formed cyclists into groups, each with a captain, that stayed together for the entire 200 km ride. This method of riding is known today as Euraudax. Cyclists who had gained the Brevet d’Audax formed the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) and organised events for Auto throughout France.
ACP upset Desgranges by assisting in an event sponsored by a rival newspaper and he withdrew the club's right to organise Audax events.
ACP created the Brevets de Randonneurs (Certificates for long-distance-cyclists) to enable them to carry out their programme of events without infringing the Brevets d’Audax. These 200 km Randonnées differ from Euraudax events in that cyclists do not have to ride as a group. Each individual can go at his own pace - ‘a allure libre’ - and stop at will for refreshment. To prevent racing, time checks were established at controls with minimum and maximum time limits. ACP kept records of all Brevets de Randonneurs Francais (now Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux) from this date. It is these regulations that were later adopted by Audax United Kingdom and the name Audax in the title comes from ACP not the style of the event.
In 1922 ACP added the 300km distance, and then in 1923, 1928 and 1934, the 400km, 600km and 1000km distances, as well as 1200km (PBP) in 1931.
Barry Parslow, later to be one of AUK’s founder members, completed ACP’s Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 km (PBP) on his tricycle.
J.B.Wadley rode PBP and his account in the book ‘Old Roads and New’ generated interest among British riders.
ACP introduced the 600 km randonnée as qualification for PBP, the time limit being 40 hours. As a concession, members of the 24 Hour Fellowship were allowed to enter if they had completed more than 375 miles (600 km) in a 24 Hour Time Trial and 14 Britons (4 on tricycle) subsequently completed the PBP - Barry Parslow’s third.
A letter by Steve Nicholas, outlining a future AUK in concept, was published in the CTC's magazine.
In order that British cyclists could qualify for future PBPs, the Windsor-Chester-Windsor 600 km was instituted and AUK was formed, the eagle logo of this event eventually becoming the AUK logo. John Nicholas, took responsibility as Secretary and Correspondant of ACP, charged with the task of ensuring that UK events complied with ACP regulations, and Steve Nicholas became the first Treasurer. The Brevets de Randonneurs Francais became Brevets de Randonneurs Européens. In each country the club that initiated the Brevets became responsible for those events and a member of les Randonneurs Européens, an informal federation that met after each PBP.
200 km and 400 km randonnées were added to AUK’s Calendar by those who had ridden the PBP and WCW, as a full Super Randonneur (SR) series of 200, 300, 400, 600 km had become a PBP qualification requirement. A 600km ridden from Bristol was extended to 700km and 6 people finished it.  6 AUK riders also rode the Bordeaux-Paris 600km.
A very young Mandy Jones rode the 200 and 400 with her father - 5 years later she was to be the World Road Race Champion.
Some 300 km randonnées were finally added. An 800km Paris-Harrogate attracted over 100 riders, who received medals from Sir Hubert Opperman on arrival at the finish.
54 Britons entered for PBP, and 49 finished and were awarded the George Navet Trophy which, as the Jock Wadley Cup, was AUK’s Individual Award Trophy until 1996. Jill Richards was AUK's first female PBP finisher.  At the end of the season a 1000km was run for the first time, with 6 finishers.
The AUK Reunion accepted a club Constitution and an AUK Committee was formed which included Chairman Mick Latimer, Secretary John Nicholas, Treasurer Steve Nicholas, Membership Secretary Ray Haswell and Foreign Events Secretaries Dave and Alan Wey.
The Annual CTC National 400 was introduced by Keith Matthews.  The first edition was a huge success, with 160 finishers.
77 Britons completed PBP and the Brevets de Randonneur Européens became Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM) - thus the Randonneurs Mondiaux (RM), the International Randonneurs, was formed. Ray Craig founded Arrivée and joined the committee as the magazine Editor. Mark Brooking and Ray Haswell shared the Individual Award, and Bridget Boon took the Ladies’ Award, all riding over 10,000 km of randonnées.
Seven AUK members made an international impact with a successful assault on the ultra-long Brindisi-Calais Diagonale. The ‘Brindisi Seven’ were - Mark Brooking, Ray Craig, Peter Crump, Simon Doughty, Simon Jones, Mick Latimer, Jane Ramsdale.
The Audax UK Altitude Award was introduced by Francis Cooke, the first counting ride being the Exmoor 200. Dave Pountney was the first rider to complete an AAA card. Sheila Simpson became the first woman to gain the Individual Award and the Ladies’ Award was re-allocated.
94 Britons completed PBP, Barry Parslow’s fifth.  Fliss Beard became the first female to complete on tricycle.  The Scandinavian countries joined the RM. AUK’s Founding Honorary Secretary retired and the AUK Constitution was amended to give the AUK Committee responsibility for club administration.
AUK introduced the Brevets AUK and offered organisers the choice of registering events with AUK or dually with AUK/ACP. AUK has records of all successful Brevets AUK and AUK/RM from this date. The York Arrow, AUK’s 24 hour team ride was instituted by Bry Ferguson. Paddy Timson gained the Individual Award, riding 10,000 km, only the fourth person to do so, but since then it has never been awarded for less.
The 1300km Edinburgh-London, the longest Brevet de Randonneur event, was organised by Bernard Mawson. This also became the first event to be validated by the RM, ACP being responsible for 200km - 1000km events and the PBP.
The Mileater Diaries, Trophies and Awards were introduced by Mick Latimer. The AAA Championship was instituted by Andy Blance and won by Richard Hulls.
The Centenary PBP year saw 264 SRs, 149 British PBP finishers, and the Brevet de Randonneurs Mondiaux Championship for AUK. Seven riders gained their Super Randonneur by riding four 600s, with Graham Moult and Robert Fry riding six on consecutive weekends. The long-standing Individual Award record was broken by five riders - Ann Daws, Bernard Daws, Steve Underwood, Liz Creese and Robert Fry. The International Super Randonneur award was introduced by Sheila Simpson.
The 2nd Edinburgh-London established a 4-year pattern for AUK’s premier event.
The Fixed Wheel Challenge was instituted by Gordon Allen and won by Mark Webb. The AAA Championship became a titanic battle between between Mark Houlford and David Vinicombe. Derby Mercury set a formidable record for a York Arrow team of 610km in 24 hours.
Once again in a PBP year statistical records were broken. 316 riders became Super Randonneurs, 26 of whom were female. 181 went on to success in the PBP. The Easter Arrows were introduced by Noel Simpson. The first AUK web pages were introduced by Francis Cooke.
Steven Abraham, Junior Points Award in ‘94 and ‘95, rode a fixed wheel machine throughout the season to set a new record for the Individual Award. Peter Hansen and Francis Cooke introduced the Randonneur 500 and 1,000 and Brevet 500-4000 awards. ACP awarded Liz Creese a Brevet 100,000.
107 riders completed Edinburgh-London 1400 km, aided by over 100 fellow Auks at controls from Dalkeith to Epping Forest. Sandra Shaw became the first female AAA Champion. The AGM voted to retain Individual Championships but place more emphasis on the awards system. Annual awards of Randonneur 5,000 and 10,000 were instituted.
7 AUKs gained the Randonneur 10,000 award, including 73 year old Jack Eason who became the first Britain to ride 3 consecutive Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200 km. Mary Holden became the first female to gain AUK’s Junior Award.
There was a scramble for places in PBP qualifying events which resulted in many organisers turning away entrants before their official closing dates. Fortunately the situation eased as multiple entrants qualified and withdrew some of their entries. Vicki Brown became the first Junior to gain the Individual (Opposite Sex) Award, and the first female Junior to gain over 100 points. In gaining the Individual Award, Chris Avery, and PB Bear, rode 11 Super Randonneur series in the year. 436 members became SRs. Francis Cooke’s web pages were adopted as the AUK web site.
A Super Randonneur 2000 award, a series of 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 km randonneur rides, the brain child of Graham Mills, was instituted. 193 SR2000s were listed. AUK listed 14 ‘Senior’ SRs (ie, aged 65 or over) - easily a record.
The Fourth Edinburgh-London 1400 km attracted over 300 entrants, starting from Thorne and Harlow.
The South Coast 1000 km was introduced by Dave Hudson. George Berwick completed the coastal circuit of 5100km at randonneur standard. Peter Hansen introduced the Randonneur Organisers’ Award.
John Hayes smashed the Veterans’ record with 217 points for the year. The Bateman/Clarkson/ Hedley/Johnson/Streets team achieved a new record of 530km for the Easter Arrow to York. Three riders (Jim Hopper, Karl Hrouda, Sheila Simpson) finally passed Barry Parslow's long-standing PBP record.
Graham Mills introduced the National Super Randonneur Series.
276 riders started the fifth London-Edinburgh-London: 181 from Lee Valley Youth Hostel and 95 from Thorne. Four continents were represented with riders from the usual European countries, plus the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and more unusually Japan, Hungary, Israel and Russia. 246 completed the event, a 14 per cent drop out. Not only has the field grown but over 180 AUK members and friends volunteered their time to make the event a great success. The distance record for the Easter Arrows to York was taken to 541 km by George Hanna, John-Paul Lambhorth, Dave Lewis, Judith Swallow and Ritchie Tout. Tiho Obrenovitch and Jutta Urenjak gained a record 104 points for the year on tandem.
Audax UK incorporated.
Steve Abraham smashed an unofficial Permanents ride record with 335 points from 78 events, including 14 permanent Super Randonneur series - plus the total points record (Calendar and Permanent rides) with 405.  Jim Hopper and Sheila Simpson completed their 7th PBPs.
Judith Swallow became the first UK lady to complete the International Super Randonneur Award and Steve Abrahams was declared Hors Catégory by the AGM.
413 riders completed the sixth London-Edinburgh-London, organised by Melita Luxton, from a single start at Lee Valley YH. 25 countries were represented. Riders and volunteers coped exceptionally well with the severe weather, including high winds and flooding, in the north. Many riders managed to sleep every night and plans are in hand to increase control size and emergency sleeping facilities.
54 riders completed the first Mille Cymru, organised by John Hamilton of Randonneurs Salop. The first rides using GPS for proof of passage were ridden and validated (DIY GPS Permanents).
A year of records: membership reached 4950 and because of this the number of SRs (by members riding domestic events) was (just) a record at 438, the overall kilometerages covered by the membership were all new records with 2,417,515 km in BR, 3,023,284 km in BR + BP, whilst including non-members we have 4,036,084 km. The number of AUK PBP finishers was easily a record at 322.
Louise Rigby smashed Sandra Shaw’s female AAA record, despite an 11-month 'year' due to AUK moving the end of the riding season from end of October to end of September.
Places for the 7th London-Edinburgh-London, organised by Danial Webb, filled within one day of registration opening.  998 started from Loughton, 804 finished including 309 from AUK.  34 countries were represented.
Record-breaking totals were set in several Trophy categories: Veteran (Mike Lane), Tandem (Chris Smith & Lindsay Clayton), AAA (Billy Weir, Ann Marshall), FWC (opp sex, Arabella Maude). 
AUK membership increased by a record number, passing the 5000 mark.  At the end of the year, the Ordre de Cols Durs (OCD) was merged into AUK.
Last updated : 04 Oct 2017