Thursday, July 25, 2024

Hamish Haynes – On Being a Pro


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I clicked on Hamish Haynes’ name on a palmares website, just to see who it is that he’s beating to win these races in Flanders;

‘Melle 2005’ – that was Steven de Jongh, twice a Kuurne Brussels Kuurne winner.

Or how about when he won the British Elite road champs in 2006 – Roger Hammond was the victim.

Despite the fact that year in, year out, he competes with and regularly beats the best cyclists that Flanders has to offer – including quality East Europeans – he’s one of British Cycling’s forgotten men.

Hamish Haynes
Hamish winning in Flanders, 2007.

That year he won the British, one might have been forgiven for thinking that it would be a good idea to let him ride the Worlds, but BC didn’t share that view.

Hamish didn’t come up through ‘the Plan’ and if that’s the case then it’s very hard for BC to acknowledge your existence.

Like some of the best British riders before him, he’s his own man, focussed and driven but affable, polite and with a good line in self deprecating humour.

This weekend, he’s guesting with the a team in the Tour of the North in Northern Ireland; we had the pleasure of his company for two days and it gave a good insight into why the best guys are the best guys.

Hamish Haynes
Hamish in his new for 2010 team strip: Van Goethem – Prorace.

Hamish came to cycling late, after he did a degree in ‘Interactive Art’ at university, this involved street performances and saw him sport a bunch of dreadlocks.

A love of the outdoors saw him gravitate towards our sport and it was at this stage that reports of this mad hippy-esque guy who was knocking lumps out of the Manchester chain gang, began to emerge.

He discovered that Belgium was the heartland and with this discovery lodged in his mind, it was only a matter of time before he was off, across the North Sea – and according to my stats, he’s been winning there since 2003.

It was late when Hamish arrived at the door; to get him to Ireland on time, he had to fly in from Belgium on Tuesday night, spend Wednesday and Thursday with us, then head off to the Emerald Isle early on Friday.

He was dressed every inch the pro – fleece hat, big anorak, fleece top, Craft polo neck under vest, track suit bottoms over long johns – just like Sean Kelly; always be cosy, look after those muscles.

It’s just a pity that muesli eating isn’t an Olympic sport, David Brailsford would have Hamish on The Plan in a trice – a week’s worth of the crunchy stuff lasts our boy one day.

There’s very little fat allowed in the diet – plenty of protein, though.

No tea, coffee, fizzy drinks or alcohol, either.

Hamish [as well as being a Marxist] was a vegetarian, then a vegan in earlier days, but when he was exposed to the realities of pro team life in Flanders, he realised that starvation was a real possibility and has suspended his vegetarianism until his cycling career ends.

As with all other aspects of his life, nothing is left to chance diet-wise; on Thursday night, before he was heading off to Ireland in the morning, a concoction of cous cous, tuna and Branston pickle had to be constructed; ‘just in case.’

The Irish guy he shares accommodation with in Belgium bought Hamish a little box of four Ferrero Rocher for his birthday, last month; Hamish made a deal with himself that he would only eat one after a race which he thought he’d performed well in – there’s still one in the box.

He does 45 minutes stretching every day, the routine involves a hard foam roller and tennis ball to work deep into the muscles.

His new digs don’t have TV yet but it’s not problem because it stops him from getting distracted and gives him more time for said sado masochistic stretching rituals.

Hamish Haynes
Hamish beat some very respected pros to win the British Championships.

He carries a spray of ‘Vanish’ with him for washing his shorts so as there no possibility of them not coming out of the washing machine in sparkling (day-glo!) condition.

He did a wash in our machine and stuck in a load of our clothes, so as not waste water.

He did a couple of runs up into East Lothian and the bike was a little dirty – not on Friday morning though, shining like a new pin, and the tyres had been off because he’d ridden through a flood; ‘the water gets into the rims.’

Hamish Haynes
Hamish takes delivery of his nutritional bits and bobs from us at last year’s British Champs in Wales.

On Friday morning when it was time to go, there was nothing left to chance, as well as the ’emegency’ rations, there was the ’emergency bag’ for the neutral service car – with a full compliment of cosy gear in case anything went wrong; ‘a cracked bike and you can’t go on, so you don’t want to catch pneumonia!’

If I was starting a pro team and wanted a real pro – I know who I’d be giving a ring.

Martin!, can I have three ‘just one more t’ing sirs’ please? [ok Ed, since Hamish has got the lead in the Tour of the North today!…]

* * *

Just tree more t’ings

1) The Guardian, Friday; ‘David Millar scored one of the biggest wins of his career in the Three Days of De Panne, after taking the final 15km time trial to seal overall victory. It was the Scot’s first stage win since he returned from a two-year ban for doping in 2006.’

First up, we’re missing a word, surely it should read ‘stage race?’ And being the saddo that I am I checked out ‘spent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act,’ unless it’s a heavy duty offence for which you spend two-and-a-half years or more behind bars for, your conviction is ‘spent’ after five years.

If you’re lucky then, David, maybe journos will drop the ‘doping’ references next year; meantime, congratulations from VeloVeritas on a great ride. Vanderaerden, Bartoli, Ballan, Devolder, Van Petegem, Mattan, Ekimov – that’s not a bad list to join.

Hamish Haynes
David gave the time trial the berries, knowing that a good ride would secure the overall. Photo©Tim Van Wichelen.

2) The UCI is ‘radging oot’ about the GB super bikes – I’m not surprised.

Whilst I don’t agree with a lot of the UCI regs, I can see where they’re coming from. On the issue of road bike weights and aerodynamics; the manufacturers don’t spend the money for nothing – sooner or later it will trickle down to the bikes that we can buy and ride.

But it’s different on the track, what you have there is a National Federation funded arms race, with the Beijing skinsuits shredded so as no one can copy the technology; frames that will never be commercially available and carbon handlebar/stem combinations being made specifically for one girl – crazy!

Hamish Haynes
The handlebar arrangement for the British sprinters.

3) On the subject of the Track Worlds; my favourite moment was when the Lithuanian girl Simona Krupeckaite won the keirin.

As the Federation clad, immaculate staff from the big budget teams frowned; the Lithuanian coach, clad in lumber jack shirt and coal man’s leather waistcoat beamed and gave the cameras a huge smile through his bushy moustache – you just know the Lithuanians would be on the vodka that night.

Hamish Haynes
Simona celebrates her world title.