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Words of wisdom from Sven Nys

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Gavin Haley getting after a fast descent at World Cup Namur.

Gavin Haley getting after a fast descent at World Cup Namur.
(Image credit: Gavin Haley)
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Gavin Haley suited up for a training ride in some rare December sunshine in Belgium.

Gavin Haley suited up for a training ride in some rare December sunshine in Belgium.
(Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Wheelie! Gavin Haley popping off another one-hander.

Wheelie! Gavin Haley popping off another one-hander.
(Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Do you have this on your white board at work? These guys do at EuroCrossCamp!

Do you have this on your white board at work? These guys do at EuroCrossCamp!
(Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Sven Nys talks tactics, pre-race prep, nutrition, mental preparation and more with the crew at EuroCrossCamp XI 2013.

Sven Nys talks tactics, pre-race prep, nutrition, mental preparation and more with the crew at EuroCrossCamp XI 2013.
(Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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It is hard to stay awake for the ride home from the race. These guys were up early to make it out for their Junior race.

It is hard to stay awake for the ride home from the race. These guys were up early to make it out for their Junior race.
(Image credit: Gavin Haley)
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Gavin Haley chasing down a 6th place finish at a National B race in Beernem, Belgium

Gavin Haley chasing down a 6th place finish at a National B race in Beernem, Belgium
(Image credit: Gavin Haley)
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More one-hand wheelie antics with Gavin Haley. This is their neighbor's "house" in Vorselaar.

More one-hand wheelie antics with Gavin Haley. This is their neighbor's "house" in Vorselaar.
(Image credit: Gavin Haley)

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.