NICA hosted its fourth race in Wausau, WI, at the 9 Mile Recreation Park. This race was the closest to me, and I was grateful for the shorter drive. I was feeling significantly better going into this race than Lowe’s Creek, and was excited to be able to give this race 100%.
Repetition is something that has always been important to me, whether it was in training, fixing my bike, or nutrition. Having a set routine for race day helps me to stay mentally focused and not get anxious over the race to come. The night before a big race, I make sure I have everything I’m going to need for the next day ready to go— my kit, jacket, water bottles, etc.
I eat the same thing every morning before a race, I always have. What goes into my body has always been important to me, and racing bikes has taught me that the proper fuel makes a huge difference in performance.
With proper preparation, I was ready to ride. It was time—the announcer called up the front row one at a time, all of us wishing each other good luck and getting ready to race. The atmosphere during the NICA events is one of my favorite parts of racing; I have made countless friends, with my new teammates and high-schoolers from other teams.
One of the biggest differences between this race and Lowe’s Creek was that, right out of the gate, I was leading alone. Whether this was due to the course, or how much better I was feeling, I knew I needed to focus on keeping the lead and not worrying about where the 2nd place racer was.
I felt more focused than before, not looking back to check where everyone else was, just pushing myself to do my best. Crossing the finish line, I was excited but nervous; not knowing how big of a gap I really had.
Looking at results later, I learned that I had won with my biggest time gap this year. I was shocked but stoked, and I learned an important lesson that day: hard work always pays off, and your best is always good enough.