The Flèche Opperman All Day Trial (The Oppy)

Ride Start Date: 21-03-2020

Fleche Opperman All Day Trial

The Fleche Opperman All Day Trial (or “The Oppy”) is a 24-hour team time trial held annually by Audax Australia. Teams of three to five riders must ride together at least 360km and finish at a designated location in each state… and if you’re not up for 24 hours of riding, try the Petit Oppy (180 km in 14 hours). Uniquely teams choose their own routes to the designated finishing place.

How does it work?

The Oppy is a unique time trial in which teams ride a route of their own choosing to a common finishing point. The only restriction on route selection is that teams should ride a tour, not repeat circuits.

Having formed a team your captain should register first, completing the team details in the online entry system. Each individual member must then also enter online, through the Audax Portal. Registration will open close to the event start.

Petit Oppy

Not up for a whole 24 hours of riding?

The Oppy’s ‘little brother’, the Petit Oppy, is available in most regions and runs on the same date as the Oppy. The Petit Oppy requires participants to cover a minimum of 180km in 14 hours of riding.

Follow this suggested seven-step plan:

  1. Gather your best riding buddies and sell them on the idea of riding the Oppy this year.
  2. Work out a route. You can’t cover the same road twice in the same direction and you must ride at least 360 km to reach one of the designated finish locations within 24 hours. Otherwise, it’s up to you.
  3. Email your local organiser (see below) to enter your team. Also, submit your route map.
  4. If you’re bringing a support crew, work out where you’ll meet them for food, water and support.
  5. Ride it. Take breaks, eat meals, and even sleep if you have spare time.
  6. Keep riding. You must ride a minimum distance of 25 km in the last two hours of the event, this means you can’t just bowl over 360 km and finish in the middle of the night.
  7. Finish. Eat breakfast, and tell everyone who’ll listen how good you are.

Official finishing points are located in all regions. In 2020, the official finishing locations will be:

Australia Capital TerritoryCanberra: Peter Heal 
New South WalesBowral: Katherine Bryant & Ian Garrity
QueenslandSt Lucia: Mark Riley
Townsville: Peter Robertson
Port Douglas: Gayle Sticher
South AustraliaAdelaide: David Fairweather
TasmaniaHadspen: Rowan Burns/Charlene Barach
VictoriaRochester: Peter Mathews
Western AustraliaFremantle: Tony Gillespie

For more details, contact the local ride coordinators listed above.

(Ideally you should aim to start at least 360 km upwind from these finishing points.)

Please familiarise yourself with the Audax Australia Ride Rules, especially items 49 to 63 which relate specifically to the Oppy) and the Safety Recommendations.

To summarise:

  • Oppy Teams consist of 3 to 5 “machines”.
  • A minimum of 3 “machines” must finish.
  • A minimum of 360 km in 24 hours, with 25 km to be completed in the last 2 hours.
  • You can do 80% of the nominated distance as long as its >=360 km.
  • You can do an extra 15% over your nominated distance if you finish early.

Easy to state, but there are a huge number of wacky possibilities:

Three riders finishing on a triplet? NO – must finish on three machines
Ten riders finishing on tandems YES – five machines finished
Six riders finishing on single bikes NO – only a maximum of 5 machines in a team
A team finishes only 480 km of their nominated 600 km course YES – 80% and >360 km
A team finishes 500 km of their nominated 630 km course NO – < 80% of nominated distance.

You get the idea… If in doubt ask your Regional Oppy RO. Don’t get hung up by the 20%/15% rule, it rarely applies. The important thing to remember is, that besides the Oppy specific rules above, normal Audax rules apply:

  • Obey the Road Rules.
  • No support outside of the controls (yes, of course, you can still do the usual self-supporting stuff, buying a pie from a shop, etc). This means that if you have a support crew, they should only be meeting you at the controls. Hint: think carefully where you put the controls.
  • No riding same route same direction twice (RO will check your route beforehand in any case).

The Rules were reviewed and amended significantly in 2018 and among the changes the previous lighting rules have been integrated into the section “Bicycles and Equipment”. The bottom line is that it is your own responsibility to ensure that your bicycle complies with the relevant road rules. Obviously, on a ride like the Oppy which involves a significant amount of night riding, you would be well advised to consider the Safety Recommendations as a minimum standard, plan to see and be seen under all likely conditions. If your one light fails you must stop. Riding without lights could lead to disqualification.

As well as lighting requirements, you are required to wear reflective clothing. See Audax Ride Safety for details.

There are some important changes in 2020.

Start Date

  • All states will have the same start date: 21st March 2020.
  • In 2019, Far North Queensland started on 18th May due to wet season flooding, while southern states started on 23rd March. In 2020 FNQ will now revert to start in line with southern states. It turns out that it’s hard to predict weather and there was flooding in May too.
  • The opportunity to complete 2 Oppys in one year has slammed shut. Only one member was able to take advantage of this: Tara Horner, who rode in two all-female teams “Oppytune” in SEQ and “The Third Extreme” in FNQ. (This has been achieved at least twice previously: Matt Rawnsley and Richard Scheer completed Oppys in March 2008 (SA) and in April 2008 (VIC).)

The actual distance counts

  • Previously only the nominal Oppy distances of 360 km for a Fleche or 180 km for a Petite Fleche counted towards Audax Australia distance awards. So for example a 361 km Fleche effectively had the same awards value as the 770 km (then world record) set by the Endorphins team in 1993. However, from 2019 the actual Oppy distance ridden can now be counted towards single-season and multi-season cumulative distance awards. Now you can claim the reward for your extra Fleche effort (in line with ACP policy).

Ride Organiser Vouchers

  • With the introduction of a national Ride Organiser Vouchers system, the National Committee lifted the restriction on voucher use for signature rides. So now you can use a Ride Organiser Voucher to reduce (or eliminate) your individual Oppy entry fee. For additional information refer to Audax Ride Organiser Vouchers

Oppy

Sir Hubert Ferdinand Opperman was Australia’s most famous endurance cyclist. He was the Patron of Audax Australia until his death at 91 in 1996, while happily riding his exercise bike. The Flèche Opperman All Day Trial (F.O.A.D.T. or “The Oppy”) is named after him.

Flèche Vélocio

Flèche means “arrow” in French and Flèche Vélocio is a classification of riding where teams start in different places and converge on the one spot at a certain time (like arrows). The Flèche Vélocio was created in 1947. After the Brevets and Paris-Brest-Paris, it is the oldest type of event organized by the Audax Club Parisien. More info: here.

Flèches are now held all over the world at Easter. In the UK it is called “The Easter Arrow”, in Australia it is simply called “The Oppy”. And since Easter is a sacred time in Australia (because of the long weekend holidays, not religion) Audax Australia is the only country that doesn’t run their Flèche on Easter. Last year’s world-wide results can be found here. For example, in 2019 the UK had 17 teams, South Korea 52 and Kyrgyzstan 2. Australia had 28 teams in 2019 and the longest distance ridden was 620 km. This wasn’t the longest distance world-wide though, the longest Flèche in 2019 was ridden by a French team: 680 km.

And so, yes, the Oppy is a big deal. It is not so much a bike ride, but more of a sacred duty within the worldwide fraternity of Randonneurs. It is a time when Audax links arms across the sea when ranndonneur-ness crackles in the air; when the bakeries and breweries around the world put on extra staff to cope with the onslaught.

It is great to ride as part of a team, but remember your team is also part of an even bigger team!

F.O.A.D.T.

Australia’s contribution or equivalent to the Flêche Velocio has been named the “Opperman All Day Trial”, naturally enough to commemorate and to pay tribute to the wonderful example of courage and dedication shown to us by Oppy.

:

I don’t know how others feel but I think that the Club could manage two teams, one to do about 400 km and another for about 500 km; one reasonable place to start might be Mt. Gambier, but if anyone has got any ideas, let us have them.

Yours in Cycling

Terry Gross

The Journal, Issue 2, volume 3, 1985

In the event, there were not 2 but 12 teams(!) in the inaugural Oppy in 1985. 11 teams finished and a record of 570 km was set. The rest, as they say, is history.

Adulation from your peers

Even if you are not in the habit of collecting Audax medals, you’ll want to sign up for an Oppy medal at registration. They are simply awesome.

Not a BRM, LRM, BA, BG or BP: a Flèche! A different beast altogether

Blasts from the past

From the Opperman Collection in The National Library (here)

Opperman

Oppy himself was no stranger to records. In one of his most famous wins, the 1928 Bol d’Or, he completed 950 km in 24 hr (!!) (albeit in a velodrome, paced by a tandem). This was well before The Oppy (1985) or Flèche Vélocio (1947) had been invented.

The Endorphins: 770 km 1993

The record distance of 770 km for an Oppy was set over 25 years ago in 1993 by “The Endorphins” – read about their amazing ride here. Team members: Mark Hastie, Guy Green, Nicholas Skewes, Ken Mayberry (~760k), Derek McKean.

After you finish watching “A Sunday in Hell”, stick this on:

Attitude is Everything: 551 km 1996

The record for an all-female Oppy Team was set at 551 km in 1996. Team members: Debra Eason, Carolyn Jarome, Alison Chambers, Sue Carey, Sue Donaghue

Notable Attempts

It won’t have escaped your notice that the above are old long-standing records. Not for want of trying.

2014: “Pane e Acqua” 730k Chris Munro, Craig Fry, Trevor Junge (VIC)
https://cyclingtips.com/2014/03/attempting-the-oppy-24-hour-record/

Disqualifications:
If you want inspiration wrapped in a cautionary tale, look no further than the 2016 record attempts at the male & female Oppy records. Both “Team Brevet” (800 km) and “Four Abreast” (619 km) beat the records, but both teams were disqualified by breaking the Oppy rules. (Received organised outside assistance between checkpoints).
2016 “Four Abreast” 619 km (DQ)
https://cyclingtips.com/2016/04/the-oppy-slaying-sleep-monsters-to-chase-an-australian-womens-24-hour-record/
2016 “Team Brevet” 800 km (DQ)
https://cyclingtips.com/2016/03/how-to-break-a-24-hour-team-time-trial-record-can-drew-ginn-and-team-brevet-do-it/
https://www.lavelocita.cc/la-velocita-rides/team-brevet-oppy-24-2016

The Mythical Oppy Shield
DatekmTeam MembersState
May, 2019¹620Cirque de sore legs
Paul Brown, Lincoln Carolan, Darren Cousins(c), Ken Dyson, Graham Jensen
QLD
March, 2018560Koiled Crazies
Rachel Edwards, Matthew Locker(c), Michael Newell
QLD
March, 2017528Flat Out Oppytunists
Nick Booth, Nick Burnett, Mark Riley, Rod Staines
QLD
March, 2016515Postie Run
Jem Richards, Mark Rigby, Blair Calvert, Terry Harris, Martin Grannas
VIC
March, 2015701Team Brevet
Glen O’Rouke, Glenn Landers, Drew Ginn
VIC
March, 2014730Pane e Acqua
Chris Munro, Craig Fry, Trevor Junge
VIC
March, 2013573Mawson
Kevin Piercy, Rob Zwierlein, Malcolm Mayer
VIC
March, 2012671Gold Rush
Guido Gadomsky, Perry Raison, Daniel Rock
WA
March, 2011587Gold Diggers
Nick Dale, Colin Law, Daniel Rock, Perry Raison
WA
March, 2010601Muchea Do About Nothing
Nick Dale, Colin Law, Diva Gangashan, Perry Raison
WA
March, 2009605Opperman 1
Nick Dale, Colin Law, Andrew Bragg
WA
March, 2008 ²622Opperman 1
Nick Dale, Ross Stevens, Colin Law, Eamonn McCloskey
WA
April, 2007439We Are Gonna Get About
Ray Stenhouse, Glenn Ross, Alex Ross, Peter Butler, Heather Pearce
NSW
No Oppy conducted in 2006 due to the change in timing from Spring to Autumn
Nov, 2005415Don’t Know Why
Kevin Ware, Ian de Bruyne, Wayne Ward, Chris Rogers, Mal Shaw
VIC
Nov, 2004550Numbnuts After Dark
Darryl Edwards, Gary Coombes, Rex Habel, Chris West, Phillip O’Toole, Graeme Burchell
VIC
Nov, 2003530Team SA
O Portway, M Rawnsley, H Johnstone
SA
Nov, 2002405Barney’s Bananas
G Barnes, P O’Dwyer, M Cook, B Magee
VIC
Nov, 2001536Ex Murray to Moyne Now Worry to Groin
G Burchell, D Edwards, R Tredennick, A Northey
VIC
Nov, 2000420No Easy Challenge
D Dawkins, A Jones, A Boulton, A Korab
VIC
Nov, 1999461We Break for No One
M Sullivan, E Paech, G Horne, D Schillabeer, D Sommerville
VIC
Nov, 1998622Team Mongreal Dogs
T Anderson, H Boardman, D Cunynghame, T Ring, A Vella
NSW
Nov, 1997553Sil-E-Ol-Fules
D Lemke, R Kenna, K Dacomb, P O’Toole, D Edwards
VIC
Oct, 1996551 (tie)No ‘Opers
N Armstrong, B Hawes, B Rutherford
Attitude Is Everything
D Eason, C Jarome, A Chambers, S Carey, S Donaghue
WA
VIC
Oct, 1995500North By South East
M Rogers, M Burgess, J Page, I Spence, G Leahey
NSW
Oct, 1994617The Famous Five
P Cole, R Brown, M Scriven
VIC
Oct, 1993770The Endorphins
M Hastie, G Green, N Skewes, D McKean
VIC
Oct, 1992655The Untouchables
M Hastie, S Hardy, N Skewes, G Green
VIC
Oct, 1991536Electric Prunes
M Hastie, S Hardy, R Schenfelder
VIC
Oct, 1990510Audax Sydney
A Stubkey, R Moore, N Irvine
NSW
Oct, 1989636Australian Time Trial Association
B Hawes, T Allen, E Evens
WA
Oct, 1988532WA Vets
B Hawes, P Meyer, J Mathews, T Allen, F Cottier
WA
Oct, 1987545Audax Australia Team
N Payne, B Chorley, K Hyndes, N Irvine
NSW
Oct, 1986587South Australian Team
S Malbut, S Brooker, J Bassett, J Dam, I Cook
VIC
Oct, 1985570Port Fairy Cycling Club
G Woodrup, N Hyland, S Malbut, S Brooker, I Hay, B Jackson
VIC
  1. Far North Queensland held their Oppy in May, 2019; the rest of the country March, 2019.
  2. Victoria held their Oppy in April, 2008; the rest of the country March, 2008.