Forth Edge brand Ambassador Hayley Simmonds is a woman on a mission on the Gold Coast, as she prepares to represent Team England in the Commonwealth Games cycling time trial in just a few days' time. She spoke to us about her pathway to the games, training through a very British winter, as well as her dreams, hopes and expectations!
Hi Hayley! Was the Commonwealth Games qualification always a key goal for you?
Yes I had Commonwealth Games qualification in the back of my mind certainly for a lot of the 2017 season but probably for a few years now. I've loved watching both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games ever since I was young and so to take part in a multi-sport event has been a dream for many years!
How has preparation gone leading into your first Games, and what are you hoping to come away with?
I started my winter training block in late November and with the exception of a minor cold I think my preparation has been very good. The British weather did its best to disrupt things but I actually managed to avoid missing too many sessions, though a few races I had planned to do were cancelled. Before leaving the UK I raced Buxton Mountain Time Trial and was happy with my ride which was a big confidence boost before flying to Australia. I'm really hoping for a good performance in the TT, which is definitely the more 'predictable' event. As a team we will hopefully be able to have an impact on the road race too.
How does it make you feel putting on the Team England colours?
I'm incredibly proud to represent England and I always feel a little bit emotional pulling on the team kit. It has always been a dream to participate in a multi-sport event and I really do feel like I'm a part of something much bigger than just the cycling squad. I just hope I can do the team proud.
What (if any) key changes have you implemented to make the step up to this level?
I've always trained pretty hard but this year I've made a big effort to address areas where I know I have weaknesses. Understanding my body is crucial and I've used biomarker testing from Forth Edge to provide me with insight that I have never previously had. The knowledge gained from my test results has enabled me to make changes to further optimise my training and recovery.
What made you get into cycling in the first place, and what was your first race? (Did you enjoy it?!)
When I was at school I rowed to a relatively high level and I continued during my undergraduate degree at Cambridge, competing in the women's boat race in 2009. The following year I didn't do any sport as I had my finals and I became really quite unfit. In 2011 my boyfriend suggested that I try cycling as he had been a competitive cyclist since his teens and it went from there! My first race was a local evening 10 mile time trial. I remember my chain coming off at around the 6 mile mark and I had to stop and put it back on! I was pretty slow back then but my competitive nature spurred me on to train harder and get faster.
If you had to pick only one, what would you pinpoint as your proudest moment in sport so far?
It's really hard to choose just one thing! I'm extremely proud of both of my Elite TT titles (though the first one was particularly special) and also of my first UCI road win at Lotto Thuringen Ladies Tour last July, which also resulted in me taking the leader's jersey. Riding the TT stage the following day in yellow was an experience I'll never forget.