Words of wisdom from Sven Nys

Gavin Haley draws inspiration from 'cross star

Participating in EuroCrossCamp XI has been a blast. The riding, bakeries, racing, and company is awesome. I hope I get the opportunity to do this many more times. I came on my own to Belgium earlier in October for racing but this trip has been different, a good different.

One difference for me is what I am learning off the bike to improve on the bike. A couple days back the other camp members and myself had the privilege to have a group Q&A with cyclo-cross phenom Sven Nys. Talking with him was truly inspiring. There were many questions asked about training, eating, mental toughness, racing tactics, and so on. It's one thing to get answers from coaches and local elites but to be listening to the best in the world is something different entirely. Every time Sven would answer there was just so much passion in his voice, he loves the sport. Although I may not be a Sven "fan" I took away so much from what he told us. I was eager to take the things I had learned into practice in my upcoming race.

It was race day and the first thing I did was eat four pieces of toast with jam. I wasn't the only one as we all learned two days prior that that was the "breakfast of champions" of the champion himself Sven. I packed my pre-race food for the day: pasta with cheese, which was also recommended by Sven. I arrived to the race in Beernem and pre-rode the course keeping in mind three things Sven told me: 1-tire pressure, 2-lines, and 3-tire selection. I did all these and was confident that my pressure and line choice was the best it could be. Now it was up to my legs.

I ate my pasta three hours prior. Not too much because you want that energy to be in your legs, not your stomach. I checked that off my mental list. Now it was on to the warm-up. Sven told us he prefers not riding the trainer as he feels it doesn't get all of your body truly "warmed up." I found this very interesting because every warm-up I do is on the trainer. So I tried it. Checked that off the list. All through this process I was thinking positively. I believe this was the key to the whole day. Geoff is also so persistent on this topic. If you stay positive you are ready for any situation.

When I got to the line I was the most calm I have ever been before a race. I started far back but was confident, and I knew what I had to do. Stay calm, and be patient. Sven said if you go too hard to move up you won't have anything once you make it there. Watching him at World Cup Namur he executed what he said perfectly.

So the race was off. I did what I could and made few mistakes finishing 6th in a field of 35. The race was good, but people are always reading the race reports of a rider and never what he/she did to get there. All the things I learned from Sven I took into practice. The mental and physical preparation was key in my race and will continue to be in the ones to come. I hope to continue to race with this confidence for the rest of the season. Stay positive, calm, eat right, warm up, and race hard. Words from a champion.

Thank you to all my supporters back home, it has been awesome to hear from all of you. Lastly I would like to thank my savior Jesus Christ. At the end of the day I'm just racing a bike, and I'm blessed that I can do this. Soli Deo gloria.

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