By Helen McKay
In many ways Charlie is the Mum of Team Mum, nurturing this idea into a reality. Charlie holds the conch shell and when it sounds we will assemble from all across London at Look Mum No Hands.
She won’t say it, so I will: a talented, dedicated athlete and an active promoter of women’s racing for some years, Charlie is a real champion of the women’s racing scene in every sense. She is so good, she can afford to spend time coaching a newbie struggling at the back of the race and still go on to win – I know because this is how we first met!
Ladies are sometimes compared to fine wines, well I reckon Charlie is a Margaux, the strong female of the esteemed Bordeaux region: when good, she is phenomenal.
So let’s meet Charlie…
- Let’s hold hands and skip down memory lane: what is your earliest cycling memory?
Probably about 1984 and learning to ride a bike without stabilisers. Every Sunday afternoon mum and dad would wheel my lovely red bike out and encourage me to ride further and further along the drive unaided. Terrified at first, I soon realised how liberating and fun riding fast was.
- You’ve been competing for a couple of years now, but how did you get into racing?
Kimberly Kabatoff, who was a club mate at London Dynamo with me, kept badgering me to race until I caved in. I was totally hooked after the first one.
- Thank goodness you took the plunge, so tell us, what is your favourite competition and why?
The National 10TT. I’ve done it twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thrive on that sort of distance and the gutsy “ride for your life” demands of a 10.
- You have achieved a great deal as a cyclist, who or what is your cycling inspiration?
Warrick Spence because he was my teamy for a little while and was awesome. Guy Andrews because he made me strong on a bike. Lisa Scarlett because she has guts. Coach Simmonds because he’s saved my season twice. Pro cyclists are like Olympian gods to me: humans with superhuman powers. For motivation and inspiration I have always looked to those around me.
- I’m sure folks would like to know, why Team Mum?
I am a sucker for the small-team vibe and riding with friends. I love personalities and enjoy feeling like I’m riding for somebody. Sam mentioned that he’d like to put a small racing squad together and I felt that I wanted to support him. Jules and Phil at Cyclefit (my previous sponsor) were great and incredibly supportive of my move to Team Mum.
- Diamonds are some girls’ best friend, but what is your most treasured bit of kit?
My training bike: a Glider Boxer. It was the first bit of kit Cyclefit gave to me. I have ridden it into the ground but I adore it because it fits me perfectly and has a pair of Sam-built wheels with red hubs.
- If your cycling fairy Grand-Mum gave you one wish, what would it be?
To be cycling into my 80s. I am proud of the achievements I’ve made but to be happy and healthy and climbing Alps as an octogenarian is my wish.
- Finally, what is the best (and worst) thing about riding?
The best thing is the sense of independence and speed which I’ve never forgotten. I love the friends that I’ve made through riding my bike and the parts of the countryside which I otherwise may never have seen. No bad bits.
Thanks Charlie, I look forward to racing you on my zimmer-frame in years to come.