These rides originated on the mainland of Europe, predominantly in France, Italy and Spain.  The Tour de France Sportive  “The Etape du Tour” is a spin off, and thousands participate each year.  Finishing times are published and these are much closer in spirit to road races.  There are now many such events in the UK and are publicised in good Cycling magazines and the websites below:-

British Cycling


UK Cycling Events

SRS Events

East Sussex Cyclists’ Touring Club

Prudential Ride London

For these events a road racing bike is the norm.  Specialist time trial bikes are not suitable and aero bars are not usually used.  There are often feed stations along the route, and roads are usually open to all traffic.  Some road junctions may be marshalled to give the riders the right to cross whilst other traffic is held stationary.  The entry fee is significantly more than for ordinary Audax events.