First of all, think about bringing a friend!
After that, it’s a matter of personal taste whether you bring as little as possible or you want to be ready for any eventuality.
Remember, audax rides are self supported – you might be lucky to meet another rider with the tools or spares you need but you can’t count on it. Unlike on a big sportive, there won’t be a mechanic waiting at the control points to get you back on the road.
It’s part of the adventure but, thankfully, serious problems are few and far between and are less likely if your bike has had a full check-up before you start.
Audax events do not require mudguards on your bike, although if it is likely to be wet, your fellow riders might thank you for using them.
Whilst you might not want a training plan, you may want to try a few rides in the dark just to get used to planning the equipment you want to bring.
Tools and spares
As a bare minimum you’ll need to be able to fix any punctures. Whilst the ride passes through quite a few towns during the day where there are bike shops, you’ll want to have ample tubes to get you through the night.
Giving your bike a good check over before you start will minimise the mechanical risks which you run but many riders will carry a basic took kit of a multitool, a small spanner, small screwdriver, a chain brute and spare links.
What else you carry tends to reflect what you think is most likely to be needed on your bike. Some riders carry nothing beyond a puncture kit, a pump and a pair of crossed fingers but others will include items such as spare spokes, cables and outer tubes. Here’s a pretty thorough trot around tools for the road.
Depending on your lighting set up you may need spare batteries.
Even the fastest riders are going to need lights. In country lanes, in the dead of night you need not just to be seen but to have a pretty good idea of your surroundings and of any potential hazards.
Your lights should be able to last through the night so spare batteries or a battery pack for rechargables will be needed.
Advice on lighting appears on many forums but you will need something powerful on the front and the back. If you are riding in a group, flashing lights won’t make you very popular.
You will also want to think about a head touch to help you read the route sheet or see your GPS.
Crucially, on country lanes late at night, motorists don’t always expect to see a cyclist. A hi-viz vest and powerful lights will make you stand out. And group riding aids visibility as motorists tend to slow right down as they normally can’t get their mind round a bubble of light cutting across the countryside.
London Wales London happens in spring when the British climate can be unpredictable.
You’ll need waterproof gear that is suitable for several hours wear and warm gloves (at least for the night section when it is likely to become chilly).
A hi-viz top is pretty essential for the night sections.
You will be able to eat as you go around but after dark food becomes harder to find. You will want to stock up for the night sections after Malmesbury.
Audaxers also refill their water bottles at every available opportunity. Dehydration happens surprisingly quickly even on cold and wet rides and can turn a tough cycling challenge into an unbearable torment.
There is always plenty of great advice to be found on the Audax section of Yet Another Cycling Forum or the Audax UK Facebook page and you can contact the organisers of London Wales London if you have any particularly tricky questions.
But your best teacher will be to do a few other rides first – check out the calendar section of the Audax UK website for events near you. Other experienced Audaxers are always willing to dispense advice and encouragement and they tend to congregate on the road!
We don’t offer a bag drop service – you’d be home before your bag! But you can leave a bag at the start to be looked after during the day – details will be sent with your joining information (if it has anything valuable in it we’ll probably flog it on Ebay).
Picture credit Sue Lacey