Cawdor APR Organised by MFCC

I thought I would pen a few words regarding the experience of my first ever race – The 2016 Cawdor APR.

An Australian Pursuit Race (APR) is essentially a handicap race where riders leave the start in groups ordered from slowest to fastest, with the aim of all coming together at the finish line.  The theory is that anyone should have a chance of winning.

With this race being in our ‘back garden’, I thought it would be the ideal entry point into racing.  I submitted my entry and was accepted to join the list of participants.  The event was organised and hosted by Moray Firth CC.  They did a great job of keeping participants informed prior to the event with regards to what to expect, where to go etc.  The event was also well marshalled on the day with plenty of volunteers on hand to make sure things went smoothly.

With this being my first ever race, I didn’t have a clue what to expect really.  I turned up for the race briefing and before I knew it, I was standing at the start line ready to head off.  There were six groups of ten riders setting off at two minute intervals and I was in the third group to go.  Middle of the road.  The full experience.  The chance to chase and be chased.

Off we went and immediately I knew it was going to be a tough shift in the saddle!  Strava tells me that between Cawdor and the crossroads on the Grantown road I clocked an average 29.2mph (46.7kph).  At this point we started the circuits (3.8 miles each, almost eight full circuits).  After two full circuits at high speed, I was spat out the back of the group, unable to keep with the pace.  Only five more to go!

Pretty much the rest of the race I spent on my own, struggling to stick within any group.  The next group came past but as these guys were even stronger than the group I was initially paired with, it wasn’t long before I was out the back again.  Next group, same story.  I continued to struggle into the wind and up the hills and eventually I’m pretty sure I was lapped, however the pain was such that I don’t know who passed, how many times or exactly how far I was off the pace!

Despite this, my average speed for the whole event was 21.2mph (33.9kph).  That’s one of the fastest average speeds I’ve sustained over a decent distance.  Given that, I can’t use the excuse that I was ‘having an off day’ and my bike performed faultlessly.  The reality is that there is nowhere to hide.  I was simply not fast enough to put in a performance that would have kept me in the mix on the final lap.

What can I say? It’s not the dream start that I had hoped for and it was a huge reality check for me to realise that I was so far off the pace.  A disappointing result.  I have to say that it’s put me in doubt about my condition for next weeks Etape Loch Ness too!  Fingers crossed I will be able to hold on a bit longer for that one!

In retrospect, an APR was perhaps not the best introduction into racing.  The reason I say that is because once you’re out the back, you’ve got no hope of holding on with the next group hunting you down!  It’s a different story in mass sportives.  If you can’t hold with the fast guys, you drop back into a more suitable group for your ability.  No such luck this time round!

So despite the result, would I do it again?  Not without a LOT more training.  It’s knocked my confidence, that’s for sure.  Maybe that’s what I needed though….. haha.  I’d still like to say thanks to MFCC for a well-run event and also to apologise for not putting in a stronger performance for the club!

Stats for the day:

Distance – 32.4 miles

Average Speed – 21.2mph

Average Heart Rate – 176bpm

Max Heart Rate – 195bpm(!)

Average Power – 282watts (Strava estimated)

Finish Position – Official times not released at the time of writing but I am sure it’s around 56th out of the 60 starters!