Some more useful information from “Audax John” who was in touch a couple of weeks ago, including a clarification about what “Audax Cycling” actually is:
Audax is a slightly clandestine activity, with riders slogging through the lanes of our land at the dead of a night. No sag wagons, the ethos is self sufficiency and averaging a minimum 15kph (including stops for sleep, eating etc.). It’s a curiously addictive sport!
He goes on to give some useful information about the route to Brindisi and cycling in France and Italy:
There is an Audax route from Calais to Brindisi, though you have to average 200kms per day to be awarded the event’s medal. When I say route, it’s a list of towns or cities that you have to pass through by a certain time, rather than a detailed set of navigation instructions….. In Italy (as in France) motorists respect cyclists. They may toot when behind you, but this should be taken a friendly advice that they are about to overtake. I found that the odd coach or lorry driver got uncomfortably close, so stay alert for these guys. Also in Italy everybody seems to hold animated and protracted conversations on their mobile phone whilst driving!
And a few pointers on training:
I notice you are looking to gain stamina for your ride by running. My advice here is to train by riding your bike. Running is more likely to injure you plus the muscle sets used will be different.
John recommends The Long Distance Cyclist, by Simon Doughty (a friend of his) which I actually bought earlier in the year (and still have to read in detail!). He also says he has an article from a magazine about someone who cycled from Calais to Brindisi which he has offered to scan and email. All useful information! I will probably take up his offer to meet up as he says he sometimes cycles near to Reading. Look forward to it!