Setbacks give us character and make success more fulfilling

Elation: A feeling of great happiness and excitement about something that has happened.


This is the feeling I woke up with on Monday morning after an unexpected weekend. This year has been a big one, where I have set many training and competition goals. One of these goals was Queensland’s Flight Centre Epic 92km marathon mountain bike race. I felt good as I went across the finish line, but it wasn’t until I heard my name called as the Winner of the Masters Men category later in the day, that this emotion really kicked in.

I guess the emotion was there as last year I broke three ribs and cracked my scapula leading into this race, and the following year’s comeback was not easy.

It is not an easy road for anyone that sets their heart on self-achievement. Firstly, it is riding in the height of the summer heat with sweat oozing out, stinging the eyes to a point where you can’t see. After this comes periods of fatigue which haunts us consistently as we juggle work, family, training, and numerous additions just to mix it up. We then come into winter. Now I am grateful I live in Brisbane as riding in sub-10 degrees celsius is rare here, but for anyone that lives in the south, I pity your fingers and toes as well as other extremities that cop the big chill. As we approach the ride or competition we have been aiming for, we now hit that last fatigue barrier, where the body just does not want to play. The muscles are tired and sore and any excuse not to train comes out. It’s that little voice that says, ‘I will ride later,’ knowing that quite often it doesn’t happen.

I approached all of these on my journey leading up to this race. I am lucky being a shift worker and able to get out in the middle of the day where it’s not cold, but most times there is no one to ride with, to spur me on or to even help me get motivated to get on my bike. I tend to ride solo in the bush a lot, being at peace with nature, or lonely, as some would say.

Three weeks before my triumphant race, I hit a major body fatigue stage. This was an extremely difficult time to get through. I looked at my TrainingPeaks program and there is a lot of red (TrainingPeaks is a cycling monitoring app/computer program and red means a failure to complete). Work, family, and being time poor were excuses easily used when really it was a mental barrier I had to overcome.

However this last week I was inspired. I was inspired by all of the Australians competing in the 2017 World MTB Championships in Cairns. This gave me the last little bit of drive that prepared me for my race. I am sure that performance can be broken down to 60% mental and 40% effort.

So when I reflect on last weekend’s self-achievement I felt it meant so much more to me because I wasn’t even aware that I won until about an hour after my race. Due to the fact that I wasn’t even going for the win but for a PB. One of the best parts of all came from the other cyclists and great mates that all had their own goals to achieve. They sat and supported everyone even though they could have had their own setbacks they had to get through.

Setbacks just give us character and make success more fulfilling.

Mark Brockwell – Masters MTB Racer, Pushys Sponsored Athlete

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