Are you nervous about your first ever Minnesota High School Cycling League Race? Don’t be.
We asked League student athlete and staff writer Chris Boucher to pen a a letter to “First Time Racer Chris.” What sage counsel could he offer himself if he could set the clock back? Here the advice “Experienced Racer Chris” opined to First Time Racer Chris.
Dear First Time Racer Chris,
I know this isn’t as simple as it sounds, but since nerves will only hurt your performance, why not just get rid of them? You don’t need to be nervous going into your first race. You and your team have prepared all season for this moment. You have pre-ridden the course. You have seen what you need to do and what not do. You’re stronger physically and mentally than before the season. You are sooo ready for this race. What do you need to worry about? A good night’s sleep is the best thing for you at this point, so just relax.
Nutrition is key
Next, nutrition is something you will need to figure out for yourself, but I can at least tell you that it’s something I still have to work on myself. One big tip I had to learn the hard way is don’t stop eating, just change what you eat. Don’t have a hamburger 10 minutes before your race. Leave the hamburger to the night before, then something a little lighter (eggs) in the morning, then some calories (Cliff Bar) an hour or two before the race. You can choose to have a GU or a shot block right before and during your race for some quick instant energy (I personally “lick ‘em and stick ‘em” to my frame). You will have to learn what to eat when based on your own performance, but remember to continuously fuel your body. Usually what you eat only lasts about half an hour, and most races are longer than that. Plan ahead. Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty. A varsity rider I know pretty well told me to pretty much stuff yourself otherwise you won’t make it through.
Race your own race not someone else’s
If this is your first ever race or first high school race, don’t worry about how you do. Just worry about improving your position. I was the very last person through the gate in St. Cloud (our first race). Every race I improved my position by one or two places. I didn’t quite end the season in the top 10, but I have learned a lot through it all and haven’t been passed in a race since May. Don’t worry about where you start. Where you finish is more important. A very experienced rider I know told me to not race someone else’s race. Push yourself to get ahead so you can race the race you have prepared for. You haven’t prepared for someone else’s race, so don’t race it.
Racing is an experience you will have to figure out for yourself, but I hope my trial and error will help you out a little. I’ll see you at the races.
Experienced Racer Chris