11 May 2015Training diary: Rob Hayles issues Smithfield warning
“And remember, if you’re not puking into that bucket on the finish line, then you’re not trying hard enough!”
There were many little gems to take from last week’s Jupiter London Nocturne training day at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: what tyre pressures to use in the race? How to corner effectively on the “tight, twisting” Smithfield street circuit? How to avoid “pursuiters’ cough” (fish oil, apparently).
But that little nugget of encouragement from triple Olympic medallist Rob Hayles, just as we went out to record our flying laps, reminding us of Laura Trott’s acid reflux-induced modus operandi at track events, will probably linger longest. He was only half joking.
By chance, just a few yards from where we were sitting, Sir Bradley Wiggins was quietly and metronomically lapping the boards, preparing for his hour record attempt the day after the Nocturne, on June 7. Safe to say, Wiggins’s ride is likely to go a lot smoother than ours.
“Smithfield is a meat market so if it’s wet it can get quite greasy,” Hayles warned. “It’s not smooth like the road circuit here at Lee Valley. It’s tight and twisting. And if you get yourself through the market you’ve then got a bus depot, which can also get a bit greasy. There is a lot to take in...” Cue nervous faces all round.
“Pace judgement is going to be crucial,” he went on. “You’ve got to look after your team-mates, you do not want to drop that fourth rider. Use them to the best of their ability.
"If you’re feeling really strong, just do a longer effort [on the front]. Don’t go off on your own. This is a test of aggregate time, remember. You’ve got to look after your weakest rider.”
I shall be reminding my Team Telegraph comrades of that on June 6. Training these last few weeks has picked up a little, but I still don’t feel entirely ready for half an hour of high-intensity pursuiting on a “tight, twisting, greasy” course.
I managed a 108km sportive prior to stage three of the Tour de Yorkshire over the May bank holiday weekend. But only just. The wet and windy weather had already worn me down by the time I made it to the infamous 25.5 per cent ramp of Côte de Goose Eye. And certainly long before I dropped a chain on the climb up the Côte de Cow and Calf.
It was a struggle to make it back to Leeds after that. The day veered towards total disaster when the sole of my right shoe came off as I unclipped at a feed station and I had to bind the shoe together with elastic bands.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and just a few days on from that ride the memories of those painful final miles into Leeds are already receding.
I can hear Rob Hayles in my ear, dishing out the positive vibes. “It’s going to be a really good night, I promise you. Just ignore the crashes. And have a bucket ready at the finish line.”