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Every honest driver who competes at the National Truck Driving Championships strives for victory.
A national title in a vehicle class, or the overall best-in-show, is a most notable achievement. Veteran FedEx Express driver Roland Bolduc, this year’s Connecticut Grand Champion in the sleeper berth division, has devised a system to prepare the mind, body and soul for competition.
Bolduc, 2017’s national Grand Champion, affirmed that his training will increase a national qualifier’s chances of winning a trophy at NTDC. The event will be held in Indianapolis on Aug. 16-19.
Bolduc’s five-step plan consists of studying, repetitiveness, difficulty, focusing and learning.
On studying, especially the Facts for Drivers guidebook, the basis for the tournament’s written exam, Bolduc explained: “Reading the book is always important because your backroom, what we call the backroom, being your written exam and your pre-trip, really makes a difference. It’s how I won Grand Champion back in 2017.”
He continued: “We’re all truck drivers, so while we’re on the road we can get the audio version of Facts for Drivers and listen to the audio version while we’re driving. What works for me might work differently for others. But what works for me is I listen to one chapter all day long until I can recite it word for word. So then when I’m out the next day I’ll listen to another chapter. If I can recite that chapter by halfway through the day then I’ll put on another chapter. And I listen to one chapter for quite a long time. Now, when I go take my written exam [at nationals], I go and take my test, I can actually hear that person talking to me while I’m taking the test.”
Keys to Success
Roland Bolduc says success can be attained by adhering to these five steps:
3. Difficulty (Don't take the easy way out)
Practicing for pre-trip inspections, another discipline at nationals, requires repetitiveness.
“At least a half hour every morning, that’s how I pre-trip my vehicle every morning. I get a good look, top and bottom, and while I’m going over my pre-trip, I think about the competition every single morning,” Bolduc said.
“The competition to me is not just a couple of months before the actual event in August. The competition to me is 365 days a year,” he added. “And what I do on road and what I do in pre-trip is [to] think of that all year long.”
Bolduc insists on embracing difficulty to prepare for the skills driving course at nationals.
“During the day, we try to stay as far away from items as we can, or objects; you try to stay away from things. When we’re in practice, we try to get as close as possible. So it is a totally different mindset when you are practicing for the [National Truck Driving Championships]. We do have a location in the back of our property that we have coined the Rodeo Research and Development Facility.”
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level who have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and driving skills
When: Aug. 16-19
He said making things harder on himself can pay big dividends.
“We actually make up problems. We want things more difficult than what we’re going to find at the National Truck Driving Championships,” he added. “The more difficult the better.”
Focus on the moment, or as he put it, “You block out everybody there. You focus on the next problem. You focus on the lines that are on the ground.
“I usually draw out the course, and I will block out everybody and just concentrate on how I’m going to attack that course. Which way am I going to turn the wheel at certain places. Where does my trailer need to be at all times versus where the tires are on the course.
“And that’s the footprint of my vehicle. I concentrate on the footprint of my vehicle and where my vehicle needs to be—spatial awareness — where the vehicle needs to be on this course at all times.”
Bolduc said it’s about being in control of your destiny.
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“Make it happen. Get the points,” he said, emphasizing mental toughness. “There is no competitor. It’s you against the course. No competitor can change your score. You need to put up the best number that you can put up. Period.
“I don’t worry about someone else that’s in my class. I don’t worry about someone else that’s in another class. It’s not worth the worry. I worry about putting up a good score and doing the best of my ability. … There’s not one person that can change my score. Only I can do that.”
Learn from mentors, colleagues and peers with insight and observations about performing at the safety tournament.
“When I first started this,” Bolduc said. “Somebody came up to me and said, ‘You see the people with the gray hair.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I had hair at the time. ‘Pay attention to those people. They have the experience. The people with the gray hair will give you the most information.’ And I had fantastic mentors.”