What’s it like to compete in your first National Interscholastic Cycling League race? Here’s how Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Team student athlete Chris Boucher experienced it.
At my first Minnesota High School Cycling League race, I had so much support from my team. One of the main things I remember from it was an experienced racer telling me “The worst part is waiting in line. As soon as you start peddling, that will all go away and you will just be in the moment of the race.” I found this to be so true. The race in St. Cloud was my first ‘real’ race. There were so many people, and the sights and the sounds were amazing. All the kids and adults performing maintenance on their bikes. You could hear squeaking brakes, tire pumps, hubs spinning, and anything else you could think of. When my coach took us out to warm up just before the race, I again heard my all-time favorite sound: tires on pavement. As you’re speeding down the road with your peers, you hear that glorious sound of your tires humming. It’s amazing. Then the race began.
The first lap is the worst lap
I actually don’t remember much of the first lap. It basically went by in a blur, but the second lap I remember like it was yesterday. I can’t explain the feeling you get when you call out: “Hey, can I pass?” I just love the feeling of knowing you will finish without coming in last. It’s like I proved something to everyone; I’m here to win. I knew going in I wouldn’t podium on my first ever race, but every race I will be a little stronger, be called up a little sooner, work a little harder. Sixteenth place out of fifty-nine I think is amazing. I was the last rider to be allowed up to the starting line, and when I saw the stats and realized I passed forty-three people, it was one of the happiest moments of my life, and one I will remember for a long time.
Bring on Rochester
I am very excited for the next race in Rochester. I know a few people on our team say they love the course, and as many new trails I can ride, the better. St. Cloud was the only trail system I have raced on in the High School League. Once, back in August, I rode the Maple Lag trail, but mainly I train at the Cuyuna Recreation Area trails. It is a great gift to have such an amazing trail system right in my backyard. I also know how much mountain biking influences people’s lives. Our top rider, Sam Elson, drives nearly an hour to practice with the team. When I attended the mountain bike camp at True North Base Camp which Bruce Martens and many other NICA volunteers were willing to put on for us, some kids were traveling three hours, and I only had to drive fifteen minutes. I do have to thank NICA, IMBA, and even more the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew for putting so much effort into giving us the gift of the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trails. I also wish to thank everyone who helps in putting together these amazing races. I have met a few of you, but I barely scratch the surface at how much effort goes into these races. Most of all, I want to thank my coaches Shaun Anderson and Brandt Elson, as well as all of the ride leaders and team members that have taught me so much over the last few months. You all have jobs and families, but you still find time to mentor us and push us to succeed not only in biking, but also in life. Go Cuyuna Lakes Team!