To properly equip my Ribble bike for the longer distance Audax events I had to make some modifications.
Firstly you need somewhere to clip the route sheet in an easily visible place while on the road. For the first Audax I managed to improvise and clip the route sheet to a piece of cardboard, wrap it in a polythene bag and attach it to the handlebar stem. This worked kind of OK.. I could read it but it needed frequent stops for refolding to make the part of the route I was currently following visible, also this was only a short event so I didn’t need to carry much stuff. For the next event I used an old handle bar bag that just fixed to the bars by straps and it had a waterproof map viewing ‘envelope’ on the lid. This was OK but when the bag was loaded the top of the bag was sloping away from me at about 45degrees, so not good for reading. It also bounced around a lot which also made it hard to read.
But while riding these events I took note of what other riders did. Mostly they used bar bags that fixed with a rigid bracket on the handlebars. You do need a bag because you carry a lot of stuff in these events, food, rain jacket, storage for leg and arm warmers and spare warm clothing, more than one spare inner tube is advised, tools, phone, bike lock and a writing implement for filling in control point answers. Depending on the length of the event you can be starting or finishing in the dark or even both. Also Audax’s can turn into multi day events. In the event that I need more storage or to balance a heavy load fore and aft I already have a big saddlebag but I don’t envisage requiring that just yet.
After much research my solution was an Altura Orkney handlebar bag with a quick release mount. It is capacious, waterproof and has a detachable smaller bag on the front for valuables that you may not want to leave on the bike for a temporary departure such as money, keys and bank cards etc. The whole bag also easily detaches from the purpose built quick release bracket and can be carried via the detachable clip-on shoulder straps for a longer absence from the bike in more risky areas. There is also a removable transparent map case that clips on to the lid and there are some mesh compartments inside for smaller objects.
The position of the bag meant that a handlebar mounted light would be obstructed so a means of raising a light was required. I solved it with a Topeak handlebar extender that can be mounted on the stem or handlebar with an adjustable ‘T’ on it. For now I have the ‘T’ mounted horizontally and I am just using it for the Garmin mount which is mounted centrally for now. When I need lights I can swing the ‘T’ up and mount the Garmin on one arm and the headlight on the other. None of this interferes with the view of the map/route case or the opening of the bag so for me it seems the perfect solution. My next Audax is in two weeks time so it will get a proper airing and test then.