Mark Cavendish on what motivates him.
On Saturday 11 February 2012 I departed for Levin, with lessons learnt and a clear conscious. "Hollywood or bust", were my final words to Ruth.
The day was very similar to one week earlier, with "sunny with light winds" producing rain for three hours once again. Likewise, I once again got my gear ready upon arrival, did the warm-up, and then - finally - looked down the track. This time however I thought of nothing...but racing.
Plans for capping the speed off went out the window and early on I essentially had the same splits as one week earlier. Feeling good, I pushed on and as the minutes ticked by I knew that when I reached the time when the legs went one week earlier it would be time to find out if this was realistic.
In the midst of all of this I had a magical moment - and remembered the feeling I had in the darkness while cycling between Turangi and Hatepe during the Maxi Enduro. I recalled that I wasn’t doing "A Ride" - Instead, I was simply riding. All year in fact. Round and round. Never stopping. Never slowing. Never looking towards the finish. I worked out how many days I had been cycling, ('42' as it turns out), and how many until the end of the year, (over 300 days to go). No self pity. No regrets. No stopping.
The time then came. One week earlier my legs went completely - I couldn’t even stand for the last 90 minutes on that ride. I have however, no fear of trying something new, as I learn from any and all errors. Show me someone who has lost their way, but found themselves in the process, and I’ll show you someone who will fight to get the job finished. So it was then. On this day of the endless ride, things changed once again. Only this time I went faster. And I felt good. My legs. My mind. My soul. It was a shame to get off the bike at the finish. It really was. I even said those reserved words that seldom leave my lips. "Good ride Stu". Yes. April beckons.
I packed up, and left shortly thereafter. No chit chat, and no support crew. The Matt Olivers, Paul Rawlinsons, and Pete Fosters of this world would be back here soon enough. I recall the 805's cycling group, and chatting endlessly with Pete. We weren’t too worried about how the week had gone for most of the group, and together put the world right on those outings. They are the type of people who'll be there with me. In Levin. In April.
2011's conclusion had me left with a nagging feeling - One of confusion. I see now, that this game is about self belief, and I can't expect anyone to believe in me if I don't believe in myself. And I do.
I never felt lonely on this ride, and welcome back a friend who hadn’t been about in a while. And I know now that a part of me is still going around the velodrome, never stopping.
Next up would be the 'Ground Hog Week' - 50 hours on the bike over nine days. This had been Day One.
Back on trackRiding forever.
24 hours to go.
And never stopping.