NN Wheelers were in action over the weekend at the Tour of Cambridge Chrono TT (a 16.2 mile TT) and the Gran Fondo (a 79.5 road race/sportive). The events are qualifiers for the world amateur events held in Albi, France this summer, but many people enter just to experience a professionally organised event with a warm up zone, start ramp, closed roads, masseurs and free energy bars! In fact this year it was so popular 8000 people entered the Gran Fondo, with 800 in the Chrono TT.
Charlie Nurse did well in the Chrono TT, coming 9th with a 37.09 in the competitive 40-44 age group category in a field that wouldn’t look out of place at a National Championship and included many top riders in the UK. Mike Padfield got a PB by nearly 2 minutes with a 39.37, Andrew Knowles got 40.15 beating his last time by 5 minutes and Nigel Walsh also got a PB with a 42.57.
The following day in the Gran Fondo Mike Padfield came 59th in his age group (40-44) out of 750 riders in 3hr 11 mins (an average of 24.8mph) and qualified for France. He managed to cling on to Matt Bottrill’s wheel for a while, but was then forced to do his own work in the chasing pack whilst avoiding numerous crashes and collapsing fenland roads/tracks(!). Nigel Walsh (60-64) got under 4 hours despite time-trialing it solo most of the way (good practice for the 100m TT next year?!)
The Chrono was Charlie’s last TT (he had sold his helmet within 10 minutes of the finish!) and so a quick history and a few words about our top club rider over the last few years…..(bear with it, there’s a good photo at the end).
For Charlie it all started 7 years ago when he decided to take up time-trialling with the NN Wheelers. One of his first recorded club TTs was an early season opener at Horsford in 2011 which he did in 24:24 (not that great!). Over the next year however he soon improved and probably didn’t get above 24 minutes for a 10 ever again!, with a 22.43 on the same course the following year followed a month later by a 22.23 on our regular Pretty Corner course. Not one for hi-tec training and advanced equipment he used his natural physical ability and hard work to become one of the best riders in the Eastern Counties.
Early on his hard work and dedication to the sport soon proved successful with some notable performances in 2012 in the District 50 mile Championship, placing top 6 in 1hr 49 mins. Over the years he has picked up numerous club trophies including Best All Rounder most years and regular top three finishes in open events. This culminated in a very successful 2016 where he was the East District Cycling Association Championship winner for both 15 and 25 miles. The 15m TT was done in a staggering 29.30, the fastest ever recorded in the East Region (and his fastest ever average speed for both 10 and 15 miles). That year he also managed to get a 20.30 on our local Pretty Corner 10m TT, which is no mean feat on this undulating course and was the fastest since Zak Carr set the course record of 20.07 over 20 years ago. Charlie had a great battle over the years with Aiden Bond on the 18.5m hilly. With only a few seconds between them in 2015 Aiden had the course record, until this year when Charlie just beat the record with 44.48 on this testing course. A 24.8mph average is no mean feat with two tough climbs and numerous bends and will take some beating.
I liked Charlies laid back, methodical approach to the sport, he always used fairly basic equipment sourced from Planet X (they should have sponsored him!) and old school training of just grinding it out with power at a low cadence. One of his winter training tips was to pedal hard on the turbo for 2 hours staring at a shed door and repeat three times a week. When he started integrated bikes and power meters were almost unheard of in the amateur world. In the last couple of years the sport has got more hi-tec and people are getting faster, with people buying speed with £10k ‘superbikes’ now more widely used, as well as use of personal trainers, advances in sports science and aero-testing available to amateurs. (In the US there are some TT events now with limits set for bikes/equipment to ensure a more level playing field). Although I’m sure he could have enjoyed another 7 years, maybe this point was a good time for him to finish. By his own admission he had probably peaked within the resources available to him (he never wanted to move to ‘bigger club’), he didn’t want the continued time commitment to training and was also up for a new challenge. All the best Charlie for whatever the future holds (I’m sure I just saw him running over the cliffs…).
There are some great photos of him in TT action on our website, but this last one is the best…