What are AUK events like?
They are NOT races. People ride them more in the spirit of an event like the London Marathon, everyone riding to their own limitations with the primary objective to just 'get round'. These events suit everyone, clubmen, time-trialists, recreational riders, cycletourists, 'born again' cyclists, young and old, male and female. And you'll see all sorts of machines - bikes, tandems, trikes, recumbents, and occasionally even stranger things ...
Size of entry varies greatly but is typically around 100 starters. Small local events may have just a handful of riders while a few popular events attract 200 starters or more.
The routes typically feature a few fast main roads and a lot of quiet, scenic lanes. Many events are quite hilly, some are extremely hilly, and even the flatter ones usually have one or two challenging climbs. Some events are noted for the quality of home-cooked food and tender loving care supplied along the way. But most are not - self-sufficiency is a highly-regarded quality in AUK.
On the same theme, 'support' - for example a following car - is very much frowned upon. There are maximum and minimum time limits, which are designed to suit everyone from the fittest of recreational riders, to more occasional riders who have plenty of determination. Each rider carries a 'brevet card' which is stamped at intermediate checkpoints and at the finish, and which is later returned to the rider as a certificate of their achievement.
The success rate on these events is very high - probably only about 10% fail to finish.
What do I get to show for it all?
Every ride completed within the time limit is held by AUK to be an achievment and is recorded as such in AUK's permanent archives. The original brevet card is stamped and numbered by AUK and returned to the rider. On some events, marked in the Calendar as 'RM', the records are also held in the archives of Audax Club Parisien (or ACP), which is the world's oldest-established long-distance cycling organisation. On these events the card is also stamped and numbered by ACP before return.
Successful riders are entitled to buy AUK's cloth badges and metal medallions for the various standard distances, and some big events have special versions of these as well.
AUK also runs an Awards structure for various combinations of events. For example, someone who rides a 200, a 300, a 400 and a 600km in the same season becomes a 'Super Randonneur' and a list of these elite is published every year in the Handbook. At another level, someone who rides 10x100km events over any period of time, gains a 'Brevet 1000'.
AUK also runs a Championship structure, for the riders covering the greatest total distances in events during the year, with various categories including Juniors, Veterans, Trikes and so on. You need to have plenty of spare time on your hands to be in the running for these though - the record so far is 28,700 - equivalent to 144 200km rides in a year, or nearly 3 per week, summer and winter!
If can't finish for some reason, what happens? Do I get picked up?
Generally, no. Do not expect a 'sag waggon' on these events, unless the organiser has said otherwise. Nor can you expect the finish, or any intermediate control, to be manned after the closing time as printed in your brevet card. You would be expected to make your own way back to your transport or directly home. It is common courtesy though, to get a message to the organiser if you possibly can.