Taking part in the Lake APR Feminine 2012

Thanks to popular demand another Lake APR Feminine, organised by the Glasgow Nightingale Cycling Club , took place last weekend. It is run in tandem with the Lake APR (for all cyclists) and one of only a few women-only cycling events in Scotland, although the number of UK-wide women only events is growing.

Elizabeth Adams (centre) came 5th in the Lake APR Feminine. Pic credit: Ian Henderson

Elizabeth Adams (centre) came 5th in the Lake APR Feminine. Pic credit: Ian Henderson

The event takes in the edge of Scotland’s only lake, Lake Mentieth, Stirlingshire and extends to one lap of 52kms.

An APR (short for Australian Pursuit Race) is race in which the riders, or groups of riders, start at differing times and according to their ability. The handicap system works such that the slower riders head off first. The object is to catch the rider/s in front and therefore eliminate them from the race. The winner is the first of the remaining riders to cross the line.

A friend and fellow member of the Glasgow Triathlon Club, Elizabeth Adams took part for the second time. Elizabeth, 30, is a huge promoter of cycling, and is especially keen to see as many women as possible on two wheels.

And she doesn’t just talk about it. Elizabeth is also a British Cycling Level Two cycle coach and willingly accompanies women riders whenever they ask. Really, you only have to ask and this enthusiastic mountain biker and road cyclist will have you out and in the saddle within days!

When Elizabeth entered the inaugural Lake APR Feminine she confessed that she wasn’t sure that she was ready for a “proper” race. Although she had taken part in a number of cycling sportives (these events are less about competition and more about the experience of riding together long-distance), an APR seemed to her to be a “bit scary”. She feared the competition, including “a few rumoured semi-pros”!

But the experience was nothing like she’d imagined. Elizabeth says: “Riding out to the start line with a group of 30 girls was so inspiring. I don’t think I’d ever seen so many women riding together.

“And the other great thing about an APR is that it’s a ‘handicap’ style race so the slowest people get set off first and the idea is to try to stay ahead of the faster groups for as long as you can.”

Last year, Elizabeth was “dropped” from her group really quickly.  She says: “I found out later I’d tried to be too heroic and do too much work. Sometimes it’s smarter to get your breath back at the back of the group and make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of riding up at the front.”

Taking part in this year’s APR proved to be a very different event for Elizabeth.

She says: “This year, I tried to race smarter and stuck with my group the whole way round. We worked really well together, taking turns at the front and trying to stay ahead of the fastest group.

“One of the race officials would give us regular updates on the distance between the groups. On hearing it was only a two-minute gap we agreed to push the pace up just a notch and keep ahead.

“That worked well for us, all the way to the final sprint up the hill to the finish line. I like hills but that last push felt really, really hard.

“I have a lot of respect for the girls who broke away on front to take the podium. I was fifth this year, which is a big difference from 33rd last year.

“I will definitely be back for more road racing.”

To find out more about women-only events keep an eye on the Facebook group Scotland’s Women Cyclists  and also see Filles a Velo 

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