Audax Australia is a not for profit organisation that depends on the hard work of a dedicated band of volunteers to keep it running. The services given so willing by these volunteers is recognised by the award of Outstanding Member and Life Membership.
The award recognises outstand serice or extraodinary long distance cycling acheivements and are announced annually. The first recipients of this award were announced at the 2011 Annual General Meeting.
Refer to the Oustanding Member Policy to find out more about this award.
|Australian Capital Territory||Greg Cunningham|
|New South Wales||Garry Armsworth|
|Victoria|| Peter Donnan|
|Western Australia||Bjorn Blass|
|New South Wales||Howard Dove and Rebecca Morton|
Martin and Libby Haynes
|Australian Capital Territory||Bob McHugh|
|South Australia||Allan Dickson|
|Victoria||George and Carol Judkins|
|Western Australia||Ken Dupuy|
Helen Lew Ton
|Australian Capital Territory||Russell Noble|
|Western Australia||Tony Gillespie|
|Australian Capital Territory||Anthony Nocka|
|South Australia||Richard Scheer|
|Western Australia||Carol Dooley|
Life Membership is the highest honour that the Audax Australia Cycling Club can bestow on its members. Awards are made as necessary. Life members have a long and distinguished record of service as riders and volunteers.
Refer to the Lifetime Member Policy to find out more about this award.
Lorraine has been a member since the mid 1990s.
Lorraine has been Membership Secretary since around 1997, an increasingly demanding position
associated with our increasing membership. Initially a less demanding position, the job is now
constant throughout the year. She has handled all new Memberships and Renewals over that time,
seen membership grow from a few hundred to over a thousand, coped with three different
computer systems, and now liaises with Cycling Australia.
She sends out the Member packages, including the famous Audax reflectors. Who knows how much
correspondence she fields from members? Lorraine quietly goes about her task with the minimum of
fuss and good humour, completing the tasks in an efficient manner.
As a Ride Organiser, Lorraine has excelled in both Rides and BA and BRM brevet rides. Her
Wandong Winter Wander series of 50, 100,150 & 200km rides dating from about 1994 is legendary.
Often, rider numbers exceed 100, testifying to the appeal of the rides as among the longest-running
and most successful Audax rides in Victoria. She is a motivator in a quiet way leading by
example, encouraging female involvement in Audax rides. Later she filled a gap by organising the
Jump the Gun series of rides up to 600km in Maryborough.
Lorraine loves cycle touring and has organized many Raids, including the Ochre raid – Alice
Springs to Darwin. Lorraine organised everything, itinerary, food and accommodation. She
has ridden this route five times to date.
Lorraine has participated in many Audax events. Although not one generally for the longer
rides, she has completed just about every distance in the Audax Calendar – numerous Super
Series, 15 Alpine Classics, and a dozen Oppys. She regularly rides distances up to 200km. At
the 2010 Alpine Classic, she participated in the ACE 250. She is a regular rider in the Fleche
Opperman All Day Trial, usually organizing a team.
A surprised Phil Bellette was presented with Life Membership of the Club at the Alpine Classic pre-ride dinner on Saturday 25 January 2004. Phil, or Captain Audax as he is known to some, has served on various committee positions, both national and within the Melbourne region is a tireless volunteer and has dedicated countless hours to all areas of Audax. Chief Organiser of the Alpine Classic, Phil received the award in front of a crowd of around 200 people to deafening applause. Hans Dusink, Club President, presented the award to a shocked Phil. “I had no idea it was coming,” said Bellette afterwards.Checkpoint No. 19 – Autumn 2004
Phil and the audience were reminded of his many volunteer activities which he has carried out for more than ten years, and which have helped bring the club to where it is today. Praise was also mentioned for his and his team’s fine efforts in the organisation of the Alpine Classic.
As well as organising the Classic, Phil currently arranges distribution of Checkpoint, checks the Clubs mail, has had a major role in the launch of the new website and has organised some of the bigger rides on the Audax calendar including the Opperman All Day Trial and the Salute to Irene Plowman.
The Club salutes you Phil – bravo!
Peter Donnan’s legacy membership number is 79, he has been an active member for around 30 years. Peter has served on the Vic Regional Committee for well over 5 years as Secretary and social coordinator. Peter has also served as Int. Brevet Secretary working with National to help streamline and fast track Brevet results to members, and has worked proactively with other regional calendar coordinators.
As a Ride Organiser over the last 22 years, Peter has organised over 50 calendar rides and currently 2 of 2 managers 14 permanents for Victoria. Peter has provided Audax with a wealth of rides along the Great Ocean Road such as the Geelong Flyer 1000, Midnight Madness 400 and many more. Peter took control of the 2016 Great Southern Randonnee and devised a new operating model that allowed the expansion of the event from a max of 40 riders in 2012 to 130 riders in 2016. This framework has been shared with the ride director for the 2017 edition of the Sydney Melbourne.
As a cyclist, Peter has achieved 75,000km lifetime award for BRM/LRM Brevets with no DNF’s, 3 times Woodrup Award, 21 Super Randonneur Series, 5 x Paris – Brest – Paris, Cascade 1200 in Nth America, Ultra Randonneur award plus many other accomplishments.
Peter continues to avail himself through providing his professional knowledge via his support of the club through Abbotsford Cycles, as well as opening his house for billeting and BBQ events for Int. riders at the finish of GSR, Geelong Flyer and Sydney – Melb.
Howard and Bec have been Members of Audax Australia and actively riding and contributing to the Club for more than a dozen years, since at least the mid-2000s. Not content with merely participating in rides, they soon increased their involvement, rapidly becoming regular Ride Organisers and taking on multiple roles at the Regional and National levels.
Their names would be well known to all Members for their active participation and contributions across the full spectrum of the Club’s riding, organising and administrative activities.
Their exceptional contribution and dedication to Audax Australia were recognised by being recipients of the 2012 Outstanding Member Award, and they have continued with their exceptional level of contribution to the Club.
Howard initially joined the National Committee as a General Member in 2009, when he also took on
being the National Calendar Coordinator. Since becoming NSW President in 2010 he continued to
serve as the NSW Region Representative on the National Committee until just recently. He remains
as NSW President. Throughout his time on the National Committee, Howard always participated
most actively – not merely being vocal in expressing the will of the NSW Region, but also being a
Member who actively contributes to the tasks to be done. It’s easy to talk, but Howard always puts
his hand up to take on the work needed and follows through with that.
Bec has served on the NSW Regional Committee since 2008 in roles as varied as NSW Region
Calendar Coordinator, Web Content Manager and Regional Brevet Secretary. She has assisted and
mentored members of other Regions to better manage their Club roles, even taking on the duties of
Brevet Secretary for Regions other than NSW. Bec served as the National Secretary for two years,
taking it on when Regional Club responsibilities already took a great part of her life.
Howard and Bec have also participated in the ad hoc committees planning for the Australian
participation in Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011 and 2015.
Bec’s and Howard’s engagement with the running of the Club has always been energetic. They have
actively recruited Club Members to the extended team of national position holders, finding people
willing to take on duties such as International Brevet Secretary and National Calendar Coordinator.
Bec and Howard are enthusiasts who promote the Club and motivate others through their activities.
Their commitment to ensuring frequent and regular rides in Sydney and their promotion of those
events and mentoring of newcomers has translated into more people riding in NSW more often.
They are also regular participants on the Club’s email discussion list promoting the exchange of
information and ideas for new and seasoned riders. During the period of their involvement, the NSW
Region has nearly doubled in size, readily outpacing the national average.
Howard and Bec are prolific ride organisers, having organised at least 150 calendared rides, covering
all distances, since November 2007. They have also established and operated about 15 Permanents
from Sydney, ranging from 100 to 600 km in length, catering for riders who need flexibility beyond
that of the calendared events. Bec and Howard have pioneered new routes and developed and
enhanced old favourites, even organising rides in Victoria’s alpine country.
As well as many regular unsupported brevets, Bec and Howard also organise supported longer rides
such as the Take a Walk 600. They have designed and organised several new 1,000 km brevets and a
Gran Turismo series in NSW. Most recently, after previously being either a volunteer or rider in the
event, they were the 2017 organisers of one of the Club’s signature events, the Sydney-Melbourne
Alpine 1200. Accolades have poured in from riders and families about their management of the
whole ride, its route enhancements and control and volunteer contributions.
There are few in the club who can match their record of activity as ride organisers.
Testifying to their riding achievements is the fact that Bec and Howard are both recipients of the
Club’s highly prestigious Ultra Randonneur award, requiring 10 brevets of 1,000 km or over and
10 Super Series. Bec was the first female rider to receive that award and has now applied for the
Australian Randonneur 100,000km – for which she will also be the first female recipient. Howard
received the Australian Randonneur 100,000km in 2016. Howard has received the Woodrup 5000 on
5 occasions and Bec twice. Their names frequently feature on the Year Round Randonneur award.
They have each completed multiple Super Series, numerous Paris-Brest-Paris events, the Great
Southern Randonée, the PerthAlbany-Perth and other assorted 1,200 and 1,000 rides across
Australia. Howard has completed the Sydney Melbourne Alpine 1200. And they have both
completed every ACE250 offered. Of course, they are also regular Fleche Opperman team
organisers. As at October 2017, Bec had not recorded a single DNF.
At the AGM, Hans was presented with Life Membership of the club by the incoming president, Garry Armsworth, for his services to Audax Australia and the worldwide randonneur community.Checkpoint No. 27 Autumn 2006
Don and Enid joined Audax in about the early nineties and have given their time over many years to support both this organisation and fellow riders. Enid has been the Awards Secretary since 2000. Every newcomer to Audax becomes familiar with Enid’s name as she sends us our cloth badges and medallions. Originally only the Nouveau and Super Series, the stable of awards administered by Enid has grown immensely. Enid and Don have both been legendary ride volunteers. Don and Enid have been the captains of the Falls Creek Control at the Alpine Classic for at least the last 5 years and, having ridden the first one, they have spent days supporting the last three Great Southern Randonnees.
They have conducted rides on every Victorian Calendar from 1995 up to and including 2009. The level of their organisation and catering is legendary.
Now in their mid-70s, Don and Enid are not getting out on the longer rides, but their pedigrees are
impressive. They both followed the familiar path, training, qualifying and succeeding in completing
PBP in 1995. Don went on to finish 3 PBPs (1995, 1999 and 2003).
In 1985 John became WA’s first member of Audax Australia. He also enquired about how to set up an Audax Region in Perth. His record-keeping and diligence to detail are second to none and because of his thoroughness, the Audax Club Parisien approved his appointment as Correspondent.Adapted from Checkpoint March 1999
In 1987 John and his wife Aileen travelled to Europe to take part in the 11th Paris-Brest-Paris ride. Both completed the event even though Aileen had broken her hip in the weeks before the start. She became the first Australian woman to compete in the PBP.
In December 1987, John was elected President of the now CTA/Audax Australia Perth Region & remained so until 1993. While he was President of the Perth Region, he took on the extra role of President of Audax Australia.
John and Aileen continued riding and organising many Audax rides for the Perth Region.
John’s services to Audax Australia, Perth Region and the Sub-committee of the CTA-WA were recognised in 1993 with an Honorary membership by the Perth committee.
John’s past work for Audax remains as a legacy for all those who have followed in the Perth Region’s committee.
This recognition of Life Membership bestowed on John Martin should be no surprise to many members in the Audax Australia scene and the Perth Region especially.
Audax Australia Cycling Club has great pleasure in awarding Peter Moore Life Membership for his outstanding contributions to the Club over many years.
Life Membership is an honour not often bestowed, and in this case, the evidence of Peter’s merit is unquestionable.
Peter has been an active club member since at least 1991 when he rode his first PBP qualifying ride. As Victorian and National Calendar Co-ordinator for four years between 1994 and 1998, Peter oversaw a huge expansion in the number of rides on the Audax calendar and introduced many innovations that are still the basis of our calendar today.
In 1994 the calendar was state-based, with the Victorian Calendar consisting of about 50 rides, or enough to fill 3 sheets of A4 paper. In 1995 Peter created a national calendar which included all states and totalled about 125 rides. By 1997-98 the calendar had grown to almost 230 rides and was almost four times the size of the 1994 calendar. Peter promoted this growth by looking for vacancies and encouraging both old and new ride organisers to fill the gaps. In 1997–98 Peter supported the introduction of the Dirt Series for mountain bikes and organised the first edition of an online calendar.
Early Audax Calendars are littered with innovative rides organised by Peter, including:
However, Peter is best known for his vision, creation and organisation of the internationally renowned Great Southern Randonnée, with multi-distance rides from 300 –1,200 km. This ride features a classic route around the Bellarine Peninsula, then travels along the Great Ocean Road to the Grampians and back. Peter organised the GSR first in 1998, then again in 2001, 2004 and 2008. In 1998 a small field of about 15 finished the 1,200, 1,000 and 600 km distances. One of Peter’s innovations was that all the rides were co-ordinated to finish together, so each distance started at a different time. There was a rather high DNF rate though due to it snowing on Lavers Hill! But it was the start of something big.
By the 4th edition of the GSR in 2008, the number of finishers had swelled to over 50, including 7 internationals. At the time, this ride set the gold standard for 1,200 km rides in Australia due to the scenic route and excellent support (and for once, good weather!). Peter is held in such high esteem that the ride attracted the best available support volunteers that Audax Victoria had to offer, and was showcased to the world via the humorous live blog run by Simon Watt from Port Campbell.
The 2008 GSR presented Audax Australia in a favourable light on the world randonneuring stage. There are many excellent ride reports on the 4th GSR and it received rave reviews from the internationals, ensuring a large contingent from the Northern Hemisphere for the 2012 edition.
Peter is renowned throughout the club as a six-time ancien of Paris-Brest-Paris: since 1991 he’s been at every running of the randonneuring world’s oldest and best known 1200 kilometre event. In 2011, twenty years on from his first PBP, Peter finished within 40 minutes of his time in 1991.
Among his long-distance achievements, Peter has completed 1,000 km (or longer) brevets including Perth-Albany- Perth (inaugural ride in 1992), Sydney-Melbourne 1,000 km, London-Edinburgh-London and Vancouver Island 1,000. In 1992, he was a finisher in the first Australian 1,200 km ride. Other riding achievements include 10 completions of the 200 km Audax Alpine Classic, numerous Fleche Oppeman All Day Trials and all those superseries needed to qualify for PBP.
Peter is the proprietor of the iconic Abbotsford Cycles shop in Richmond. His knowledge of cycling is immense, and he is always willing to share. He is a frequent contributor to Checkpoint and his talks at Victorian Club Nights are a highlight – if you want to finish PBP, listen to Peter. Peter provides his shop free of charge for after-hours Audax purposes, and for the last 8 years it has been home to every Alpine Classic and Checkpoint mailout and available for numerous Audax meetings. In addition, Abbotsford Cycles offers a discount to Audax members, and the shop supports the Alpine Classic with a presence in Bright every year. Abbotsford Cycles has always advertised in Audax publications, as a quick glance at copies of Checkpoint and the Rides Calendar will confirm.
Peter’s role as a mentor in Audax should not be under underestimated, whether it be advice on lighting systems, ride organisation or even club history.
For example, every PBP year he gives a talk at the Victorian PBP Club Night, passing on his knowledge and experience to newcomers. In 1995, Peter organised a pre-PBP training camp in Normandy, booking the accommodation and obtaining information about permanent 200 km routes that were available via Audax UK. All 16 who attended this pre-PBP training camp successfully completed PBP, and one of those who attended first met his wife there.
Peter has “Moore” than fulfilled the stringent requirements required of a Life Member. Please join us in congratulating him.
In 1983 Russell was one of the first three Australian cyclists to take part in Paris-Brest-Paris in its modem format. He is the father of Audax in NSW. Or maybe his long-term commitment to Audax and the many, many randonnées he has conducted make him the grandfather.Adapted from Checkpoint March 1999
Back home, Russell was fired with enthusiasm. As well as his PUSH ON article on PBP, there was an inaugural NSW Audax meeting and regular randonnées began to appear on the calendar.
Russell initiated a host of annual event rides which helped to bring many people into cycling and spawn other mass events which remain part of the cycling calendar. For more than a decade, the Green Valley Twin Century was a key NSW Audax event, offering randonnée distances for Audax aspirants and shorter courses for the average weekend cyclist.
To name one more achievement, Russell has a keen sense of design. He has developed many attractive patches for the events he has started and also produced the winning Australian jersey design for 1995 PBP.
Russell is an Audax member from the ACT. He doesn’t wear cardigans, isn’t a public servant but does sometimes sport a beard (not in lengths suitable for riding a recumbent). Russell has been riding for about four years (2011), and first got the idea of doing PBP from a woman in his spin class at gym.Checkpoint Magazine, Spring 2011
Russell was always a strong rider, storming home to finish the 2011 PBP in 74h25m in spite of having a bad accident on the return to Paris (as documented in the classic PBP article ‘A kick in the bum’, Checkpoint Magazine, Spring 2011). Russell completed his ACP Randonneur 5000 award in October 2011 and also The Murray 1200 in 2014. In recent years Russell’s Audax riding has been curtailed somewhat by injury.
Russell has been an incredibly passionate administrator for the club. He is an advocate of putting your hand up to volunteer, as can been seen by his recent roles on the National Committee:
A couple of examples of his initiatives and policies that have come to fruition are Brevet Gravel (BG) rides and a national ride vouchers system for ride organisers and volunteers (previously only available to Victoria Region members).
As a ride organiser, Russell has run his supported 200/300/400/600 km Politics, Religion & Salvation series on multiple occasions. He has supported various other rides as a volunteer and has been known to appear on the side of the road in the middle of the night with a welcome hot cuppa for weary riders. Last year Russell showed his flair as a ride organiser by offering the Gippsland-Monaro Strade Sterrate 600 km supported Brevet Gravel ride through the remote spectacular alpine countryside between Bairnsdale and Canberra (but due to an unfortunate family incident the ride had to be cancelled). Russell is also the organiser of arguably our greatest brevet, The Snowies Super Randonnee (a special 600 km permanent with at least 10,000 metres of climbing required for the ACP Randonneur 10000 award). Several overseas riders have travelled to Australia just to do this brevet.
But it is in the improvements to our IT systems where Russell has truly excelled. Over the past 5 years, Audax Australia administrative IT systems have undergone an amazing transformation, thanks to Russell. He has donated literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of IT consultancy free to the club. Apart from making it simply easier for members to enter a ride or apply for an award, these IT systems enhancements have removed large amounts (as in hundreds of hours per year) of manual volunteer labour from Audax administration. Improvements include, but are not limited to:
There has never been a more worthy candidate for Audax Australia Life Membership than Russell Noble.
Matt Rawnsley has been a member of the Club for almost 25 years, with an active cycling history. Being the first rider to achieve the 100,000 km and Ultra Randonneur awards when first released in 2012 and has continued to receive a second Ultra Randonneur and the 125,000 km award. Matt has achieved cyclist results with the PBP x 5, Int. Super Randonneur plus many other achievements.
Matt has served on the SA Regional Committee for over 10 years and general member, treasurer, brevet secretary and now continues as national brevet role in Checkpoint.
Matt has been a RO in SA for many years and has been accredited with organising a large amount of the rides prior to his medical issues. Since recovering, Matt has been focusing on developing a shorter series of rides that suit him and a wider group of new members. Matt is also well known for volunteering at many larger interstate events.
Chris has been an active member of Audax for around 20 years, his legacy membership number is 506.
Chris has served as RAID Secretary for 16 years and for 6 years as general committee member and calendar coordinator on the Vic Regional Committee.
During this time, Chris was instrumental in building collaboration between different regions and in developing different ride types such as Trim the Cat series run in Victoria, Sth Aust and Western Aust. Introduction of the GT Super Randonneur.
Chris conceived and developed the Sydney – Melbourne 1200 and was Ride Director for the first edition of this event. As an ongoing Ride Organiser Chris has contributed to over 35% of the ride routes currently used in Victoria. Chris has run over 300 calendar rides and is actively managing 94 Permanents including Five Special Series and a Dirt Series.
In his spare time Chris has managed to complete over 132,000km for the lifetime award, 4 times recipient of the Woodrup Award, 30 Super Randonneur Series, 5 Super Randonneur Series in a single season, Paris – Brest – Paris completed and to many more to list.
Chris also has a long history of volunteering for the Alpine Classic, manning control points and admin tasks. Chris also acts as on call rescue for a number of events held by other Ride Organisers and typically has an open door policy for any members finishing in his hometown.
Alan Walker is a co-founding member of Audax Australia and has been a continuous active member of Audax Australia., Alan’s legacy membership number is 1.
Alan served as the first Secretary of Audax Australia and served as a general jack of all Audax roles in the initial years, he drove publicity with articles in cycling magazines, e.g. “National Cycling” and built up membership to over a few dozen members in the first year. Alan organised most Victorian rides in the early years. Alan also was the first newsletter editor for the club.
Alan has been riding Audax since the beginning and being somewhat humble has never applied for an award, he always stated that the enjoyment of riding is rewarding enough.
Alan has completed the following major riding achievements
Alan has volunteered on several key events over the years and recently he volunteered on the 2016 Great Southern Randonnee and the 2017 Sydney Melbourne. Alan has also helped on club social nights and the Audax Alpine Classic.
Alan has a wealth of knowledge on ride organising and routes and Alan has always offered to mentor would be Ride Organisers providing advice and answering questions.
Alan has been a key resource for Audax Victoria providing numerous rides over the years. Some of Alan’s signature events have been –
Other Areas of Service to Audax Australia. Alan has made himself available to members by providing his professional knowledge via his support of the club throughout his membership. Alan always stove to innovate and evolve Audax cycling and he introduced the idea of using shops as controls instead of relying on members. This seems obvious now but, in the early days, ride organisers felt obliged to find volunteers to run and cater for controls.
Alan also proposed “Checkpoint” as the name of the club magazine. Alan has always been an avid contributor to Audax newsletters and Checkpoint magazine and in more recent years, social media.
When researching Alan’s contributions, one cannot go past his amazing efforts he put into establishing and running the club in the early evolution of the club. This effort can best be portrayed by an article penned by Alan himself and published in Checkpoint No:20 below –
Cast your mind back to a time when very few people had seen a computer. Imagine a world without email discussion groups or web pages. In such a world, how did anyone know about cycling events in another country? Communication depended on a few cycling magazines, mostly aimed at the racing world. The only publicity available to people on the fringe of cycling, itself a fringe sport, was an occasional article in a magazine.
That is how I first heard of Audax. While I was on a three-month cycling tour of Britain in 1979, I picked up a copy of a cycling magazine. It included a long article about members of an organisation called Audax United Kingdom taking part in a ride of 1200km in France. I read it with a mixture of excitement and incredulity.
Back then, I assumed that only a highly trained athlete, approaching Olympic standard, could ride 400km in a day. The prospect of covering triple that distance in 90 hours was overwhelming. But there was the evidence in front of me – a photograph of ordinary-looking people. Some of them had grey hair. Their bikes had mudguards and handlebar bags. Some of them were even smiling. I was determined to join them. I carried the magazine all over Britain, carefully folded up in my rear pannier.
A few months after I returned to Australia, I decided to start an Audax club. By pure chance, I saw Sir Hubert Opperman among the officials at a criterium in Richmond in Melbourne. I walked up to him, introduced myself, told him that I wanted to do Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) and asked for his advice. Who better to ask? Oppy invited me to his apartment. We spent an evening talking bikes and he gave me a pile of literature about randonneur rides, about the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) and about Audax United Kingdom.
I wrote to ACP and asked if we could start an Audax club in Australia. I wrote to Audax United Kingdom and asked for their assistance. That was how it was in the days before email and the World Wide Web. We wrote letters, posted them and waited. A two-week turnaround was unusually fast. In this case, I waited rather longer.
I never knew the whole story, but it seems that ACP had contacted Oppy and asked about my bona fides. It took him a while to establish that I was not the rabble-rousing ratbag, with a very similar name, who repeatedly wrote incendiary letters to the newspapers, damning cars and demanding cyclists’ rights. Eventually, Robert Lepertel from ACP replied, approving the formation of an Audax club in Australia, offering me the position of Australian correspondent and suggesting that I contact Russell Moore from Sydney, who had independently written to them just a week or two after me. Audax United Kingdom sent me a copy of the rules in English. With so much encouragement, the idea was bound to take off.
I wondered how to get started. The main ingredient was missing – riders. Explaining what Audax was about took a lot of work. I persisted in talking and cajoling, telling anyone who would listen that Audax was great idea. I talked to the Bicycle Institute of Victoria. I advertised in Australian Cycling magazines. I contacted cycling clubs in Melbourne. Some long, hard rides already existed. The “Knox Hard Hundred” of 100 miles, the “Two Hundred Miles in 24 Hours”, after the fashion of similar events held by the Cyclists Touring Club in Britain and the “Bendigo Double Century”, of 100 miles from Melbourne to Bendigo on Saturday and back on Sunday were all of a comparable difficulty to the shorter brevets. Despite this background, Audax style rides encountered resistance. Checkpoints and time limits seemed alien and unnecessary. The notion that the clock keeps ticking even during sleep breaks seemed unfair. Nevertheless, I enticed Glenn Rodda, Fabian Dexter and Malcolm Martin from the Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club to accompany me on a 200km ride starting at Flinders Street Station. Audax had taken its first step.
Early in 1981, Russell and I agreed that it was time to form a club, to organise qualifying rides for the 1983 PBP. I wanted to avoid state rivalries and to ensure that any rider anywhere in Australia could have confidence that we intended to form a truly national club. To reinforce the message, we agreed to meet in Albury, as it is on the border of NSW and Victoria.
Rather than merely hold a meeting, we decided to combine it with two 600km rides to Albury, one starting in Melbourne and one in Sydney. “The Age” in Melbourne used to have a regular page of free notices for community events, so I advertised a supported ride of 600km in two days from Melbourne to Albury. The support consisted of one car to carry luggage and two very generous volunteers who put up the riders’ tents for them at the overnight stop. I was too naive to be surprised that several people rang up and joined in.
Russell was the only person to complete 600km in under 40 hours. All over northern Victoria, the Melbourne group was plagued by three-corner jacks (also called caltrops or bindi-eyes). People had punctures three at a time. When we needed to stop, we were reduced to halting in the middle of the road and carrying our bikes to safety, taking care that our tyres did not touch the ground. At one point I could not slip my foot into my toe-clips (remember them?) because the soles of my shoes were covered in prickles. We spent hours fixing punctures.
Nevertheless, on Easter Sunday in 1981, about ten cyclists sat on the banks of the Murray and formed a club called “Audax Australia”, with Russell Moore as president, myself as secretary and Tony McDonnell as treasurer. In those happy days, no-one thought of legal incorporation. We just did it.
The greatest difficulty continued to be finding people who would organise rides or attempt such distances. Most racing clubs simply scoffed at the idea. No-one had any experience in organising randonnees. The most enthusiastic response came from veteran racing clubs and from the more hard-bitten touring cyclists. In Victoria, we began with a typed newsletter of two pages, including a calendar of one ride every six weeks.
The rides went the standard distances within the standard time limits with designated towns to stop for rest and refreshment. At first no-one carried a brevet card. It was hard enough to find routes, organise rides and promote them. Brevets, supported checkpoints and homologation had to wait until we had enough members to share the work. In hindsight, the prospect of a medal from France would probably have made the club more attractive, but initially there was no money and no time. Some rides started with two entrants. A field of 10 was a big success. Often, everyone taking part would ride the entire course together in a peloton, waiting for anyone who had to stop.
Gradually, Audax caught on. John Drummond, the editor of National Cycling, agreed to publish a short article about Audax. Word of mouth attracted a few more. Occasionally, one would meet another cyclist who had heard of Audax. In NSW, Russell Moore had established a nucleus of riders and four Australians completed PBP in 1983. After about a year as secretary, I bowed out of the organisation of the club. I had recently married, started a new job and moved to a new city and I could not put in the effort Audax deserved. Fortunately, the seed I planted was in fertile ground. The credit for cultivating the seedling belongs to others.
Terry Gross formalised the use of brevet cards and organised the first awards of medals. In those days, ACP had us parcel up completed brevet cards and post them to Paris to be checked. They would come back weeks or months later with an homologation sticker and a medallion, but better than that, they came back with the mystique, the aura, of having been approved by the organisers of the oldest marathon cycling event in the world. At first, ACP would not sanction any other 1200km rides anywhere in the world but accepted 1000km brevets as a compromise. Terry organised the first Australian 1000km ride in August 1984. That, to my mind, is when Audax Australia came of age.
By this time, Audax had become unstoppable. The big signature events, the Opperman and the Alpine Classic, became fixed points on many calendars and many non-members participated. The club still struggled occasionally, but one or two people always picked up the baton and continued the relay. From this distance, I will not attempt to single out names: there were many and I might unfairly omit someone, especially those from Sydney.
In the beginning, life was simpler. No-one needed to consult a lawyer before they got on a bike. Risk management consultants were unknown. The volume of traffic on rural roads was half present levels. So now I am especially grateful to those who participate in our rides, with their mixture of fun, hard grind and camaraderie, to those who stand at a picnic table in a cold, dark park in the middle of nowhere, preparing food for cyclists who dash in, eat and dash out, and to those who organise meetings, bank money, print newsletters and attend to the myriad of other tasks demanded by such a successful organisation. As Oppy used to say, we Audax riders are among the last of the true sporting amateurs.
On the day that Checkpoint Editor, Patrick van Dyk, asked me to write this story of how Audax began in Australia, my PBP medal arrived in the mail, 25 years after I read about it in a cycling magazine in England. It was worth the wait.Alan Walker, Checkpoint #20