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I have a dream. A dream of racing my motorcycle. I want to do a big race someday, maybe the Baja 1000, I’m not sure yet. A year ago I bought my first bike, a shiny new Yamaha WR450 and just about fell off the back of it the first time I wrapped my hand around the throttle. It was a lot to handle. I started out on dirt roads and learned the controls. I found a place where I could go back and forth and back and forth and practice turning and breaking. It was scary at first but slowly I felt more and more comfortable. After some time I headed out onto the trails and after completing my first bit of singletrack I thought I was the next Travis Pastrana, minus the back flips. Since those days last year of first and second gear riding I’ve completed six enduro races. I’ve still got a lot to learn and regularly get a gut check when things gets out of control but now I can hang with most guys around here, until things get really hairy.
This past weekend I went to race my final enduro of the Arizona spring series and it was cancelled due to a freak snowstorm. Such a bummer since I had really been working up to it. But the time off let me reflect on a few things. Things like where I was, how I got here and where I was going. I don’t mean the BIG question of how did I get here because I think my parents answered that a long time ago. But instead I mean the smaller question of, how did I get right HERE, and where do I go now? Simple, it all has to do with goals and what we want in life.
Because of my job I have the opportunity to meet some interesting people. Over the years I’ve gotten to meet celebrities, politicians and of course pro athletes. One of the athletes that I got to meet and talk to was Mark Cavendish. For those of you non-cycling types, Mark Cavendish is one of the fastest sprinters in the world. This is his resume of current major wins, impressive for a 27 year old.
Tour de France - Points classification (2011), 20 stage wins (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Giro d’Italia - 7 stages, 2 TTT (2008, 2009, 2011)
Vuelta a España - Points classification (2010), 3 stages, 1 TTT (2010)
Single-Day Races and Classics
UCI World Road Race Champion(2011)
UCI Madison World Champion(2005, 2008)
Milan – San Remo (2009)
Grote Scheldeprijs (2007, 2008, 2011)
So one year before the Tour of California I sat with Mark in a hotel lobby. What do you say to such a person? Nice weather, you’re fast? Do you like……cheese? Awkwaaaard. During the couple moments of awkward silence I noticed Mark’s watch. I really like watches and Mark was wearing a beautiful stainless Rolex Daytona. With confidence in my knowledge of watches I leaned over and said, “nice Daytona.” Dale Carnegie would have been proud. Mark said, “Oh, you like watches?” I told him I did, then about a couple of my favorites and that someday when I feel I’ve “made it” I’m going to get a stainless with white face Rolex Explorer II. This watch wouldn’t be for show or anyone to think I was of a certain ilk. To me it is something special, a reward for a job well done, something to make me feel good for all the hard work.
After Mark told me about some of the other watches he had, he asked me, “How do you know when it will be the right time to get it?” I told him that I wasn’t exactly sure but that I thought I would know when the time was right. He leaned in towards me, looked me in the eye and said sincerely, “You just have to set some goals.” He told me about watches he had won at races and that he rewarded himself for certain wins with a watch he wanted. He has a large collection. Here I was sitting with, arguably, the fastest bike racer in the world, Tour de France stage winner, future World Champion and he is explaining to me about setting goals and rewarding myself. Priceless.
Before the Tour of California that year I had been looking at a book by landscape photographer David Muench. He shoots a lot in the southwest and has amazing images. In this book he talked about how he got on this theme of shooting through things. He’d find an archway in Moab and shoot through it to frame what was on the other side. He had a beautiful photo of a full moon that he shot through a canyon wall. So with that inspiring me I set the goal of trying to get a shot like that during the race. What were the chances right? But you gotta set goals.
With my goal in the back of my mind, far back, I saw it as we came around a corner and up a rise. It was a hole eroded out of some rock set off in a field. I just about leapt off the back of the motorcycle to get to it. My driver, Leon, kept us calm and brought me over to the side of the road so I could get through the barbed wire and to the rocks. Just before the race got there I got into position and ready to shoot. I didn’t get a watch but I did make a nice photo out of it. What were the chances?
Of course I already knew what Mark said about setting goals. But better than any self help book you could download or buy from Amazon, Mark and his watch helped reinforce the idea of setting goals. Motorcycle racing, photos, it’s all the same, just little goals along the way to feeling like I’ve “made it.”