An Audax is a long distance cycle
over a set course within a per-defined time limit – but it’s not a race.
The shortest Audax listed is 200Km. On Saturday the 5th November, four
cyclists from RWCC Larry, Dave, Karl and Luke set off to complete an Audax
course called “Dublin County Border 200”.
We asked Larry to give us an
account of events for any future budding Audax’ers to get an idea.
Knowing that daylight is in short
supply at this time of year, three of the four departed from Ratoath in
darkness at 7:00am and were I joined them in Ashbourne, from there we proceeded
to Ballymadun, just a little north of Ashbourne. This was the official
start of the ride at 7:30am. By the time we passed through Oldtown is was
daylight enough to see clearly. The rain was our constant companion
during the morning as we headed south, through Hollystown, Clonsilla and
As part of any Audax there are
control points. In days before mobile phones, you had to get a stamp at
this control point, or write down your answer to a question on your brevet card
that you could only answer if you were in that location. Nowadays a photo
at that location (gps tagging helps) is usually sufficient. Our
first control point was in Lucan, and we took a photo outside Stagg Cycles, a
local landmark for most cyclist. This was at 9am.
Not stopping for long we headed
further south, and crossed over the Naas Road well south of Rathcoole.
If you are on an Audax you are allowed to leave the route in order to get
food, so long as you come back onto the route at the same point you left it –
no short cuts allowed. We did divert into Rathcoole to get some food just
after 10am. Thankfully it had stopped raining at this point.
After this welcome break we headed
east, and started climbing in earnest. The first crescent was Saggart
Hill, and then around by Ballinascorney Woods and climbing up to the old
military road just on the Dublin side of Featherbeds. This was the
most difficult climb, and the highest point of the day at almost 500m.
The effort was rewarded by spectacular views. The time was now
11:45am After a very brief stop to admire the view, we began to
head back down hill, stopping for just a minute or two at Johnnie Fox’s pub in
Glencullen. We continued downhill, but the wet roads did not make
this a carefree descent. We crossed the N11 just north or Shankhill and
then turned north to follow the coastline. The route took us back up
Killiney Hill just in case we thought it was going to be easy.
Our second control point was in
Dalkey which we managed to arrive at by 1:20pm, but we quickly moved on through
Dun Laoghaire and into Blackrock where we took our second food stop.
Once fed and rested (?) we got
back on the route up the coast and crossed the Liffey via the east link bridge
at 2:30pm. Once we got to the Alfie Byrne Road we got onto
the dedicated cycle lane, and this made travel in the city so much easier – no
vehicular traffic, and very few traffic lights. We made very good time
from here right to Sutton Cross. This was the start of the last big
climb of the day, as the route took us over Howth Hill. We managed to
grab a quick photo outside the Summit Inn at 3:25pm as this was the third of
our four check points.
The drop back down the Howth
harbour was very fast, and we quickly came back onto cycle lanes, until we got
to Portmarnock. We were inside the last 50km at this point, and trying to
keep moving as quickly as we could. Malahide and Swords went by quickly,
but the light began to fade as we rushed through “Rush”, and into
Skerries. Here the route took us right out to the Pier, before coming
back onto the road for Balbriggan. It was a diversion we could have done
without at that point, but it’s on the route, so it had to be done.
Our last checkpoint was in
Balbriggan, and we managed to get a photo in the town at 5:45pm, before heading
back west. The route home, with strong lights both front and back,
took us through Balscaddan and Naul before finally turning back towards
We completed the 214Km back to
Ashbourne at 7:10pm, and 223Km back to Ratoath by 7:25pm .