Another day, another time trial. Marshalling and helping generally seemed like a good idea once upon a time but, having been at the Breckland CC open ‘10’ (fastest sixty) at Snetterton the previous Wednesday evening and having got pretty wet at the club 10 on Tuesday, I confess to feeling a little jaded come early Sunday morning. I was hoping that the 70 odd competitors would have a bit more get up and go than me. Fortunately they did.
Just like the EDCA championship ‘10’ the week before, this event clashed with the Eastern Counties ‘100’ on the E2 on the same day, an event that attracted a full field containing many top performers and BAR contenders from up and down the country, The reputation of the E2 has this effect, but you needed a qualifying time of 4.15 or lower to get in, the other problem being the first rider off at 4.45am – owing to the higher traffic flows on the A11 and A14 from 0930 onward.
No such traffic issues on the B25/6, the course based on the A47 starting east of Kings Lynn heading towards Wisbech for the ‘Little Chef’ roundabout turn at just over 6 miles, returning back to the start, then to continue with lap two. This course format makes for some interesting action as spectators and marshals see the event unfold over the two laps whilst, for example, NNW’s Charlie Nurse, beginning his race at number 55 at 0855, was chasing a very fast number 30 a couple of hundred metres ahead of him who was on his 2nd lap. It was never thus back in the 1970’s, but it makes the courses compact and spectator friendly.
The field was probably 10-15 light on what it would have been without the ECCA 100, but still contained a number of contenders for the EDCA title with Charlie amongst them and Aiden Bond also looking good at number 35. Most pundits expected the race win to be between Paul Jay (number 20, Team Velovelocity) Mark Richards at 40, known as ‘Titch’ to his friends of VC Baracchi, Steve Gorbutt at 60 of Diss and Dist and Charlie.
Conditions initially looked near perfect with sunny blue skies and wind speeds of no more than 5 mph on a Fenland course that is renowned for its exposure to the wind. This was the case in large part, but the early starters had the best of it as wind speeds picked up over the morning and temperatures rose.
I was marshalling at the Little Chef roundabout turn and was kept busy ticking off riders for the first and second time, with riders on lap 2 sometimes overtaking those on lap 1 or vice versa. I also noted down the approx times of the leading contenders, noting that number 30 was shifting, being 3/4 minute up on Paul Jay (20) at the first turn at 6 and a bit miles. By his second appearance, he was clearly ahead of the field with Charlie, looking strong. between half a minute and one minute up on his aforementioned rivals, in 2nd place.
Charlie set a course personal best of 52.18 (now amended for some reason by the time-keeper to 52.28) on the day to take 2nd place, almost a minute up on Mark Richards of VCB, who had beaten Charlie the previous Wednesday evening at the Breckland ‘10’. A tough training session on Monday followed by the club 10 on Tuesday had probably taken the edge off for Wed but, with a day or two’s rest, he was clearly sharp and back at his best for this event.
This was just as well because, with Felix Barker winning the event by nearly two minutes but, coming from Cambridge University CC and with Cambs clubs being outside of the territory of the EDCA, it meant that Charlie won the EDCA ‘25’ championship and will collect his medal in due course. (Barker is still the event winner and takes the winner’s prize money). The other EDCA medallists were Mark Richards and Paul Jay. I always said that you can’t beat a good rule book. NNW’s Aiden Bond finished 11th in a time of 55.19, pretty good for someone who trains by riding to work.
The women’s event was won by Jennifer Smart of VC Norwich in a fast time of 1.0.34 (one hour and 34 seconds) which missed the course record, that has stood since 2000, by a handful of seconds, missing out on an additional £30 prize that would have gone with it. Louise Marsden of VC Norwich, 2nd claim member of NNW, rode well for 3rd place in a time of 1.03.27.
First vet on standard was the ubiquitous Chris Nudds (CC Breckland) aged 68 in a time of 58.32 (over 14 minutes up on standard) with Charlie second on standard ! Don Saunders and Harvey Hall of CC Breckland won the tandem event in a good time of 55.42. Quite an interesting combination and team these two, with an age difference of about 45 years between them.
I enjoyed the event and my free cup of tea at the finish as always. We had 3 marshals at my roundabout turn, which you need given the number of exits and the amount of traffic arriving at this point from the Wisbech direction, so entering upon the course for the first time, but with plenty of warning signs in place as well as the well-placed marshals. Strangely the other two marshals decided to stand together at the front of the roundabout (facing the riders coming from the Kings Lynn direction) to have a chin wag together for the whole two hours, thus leaving the Wisbech end of the roundabout unattended (I noted two police cars arriving from this direction as well). One of the two could not even be bothered to put on his high vis jacket ! All marshals are volunteers but what is the point? Having started the day a little down beat, I must confess to ending the morning somewhat grumpy and gloomy as well.
Felix Barker, 21. of Cambridge University CC may not have been known to us officials, but he is a noted road racing cyclist with British Cycling junior / espoir credentials and overseas tours on his youthful palmares and he has a few fast times to his credit in time trials this season. He took course record here by 40 seconds and is clearly a big talent for the future. He looks like a contender for the National 25 if not this season, then next and subsequent years.
Another day and another time trial coming up no doubt and, who knows, perhaps no grumpiness in sight? The marshal’s lot is not always a stroll in the park. Like the competitors, we have our occasional off days! At least I had my classic car out on the day to drive home in and I even took the long route !