The Definition of Success May Not Be What You Think It Is

The Mak Parshall after a Belgian kermesse in 2022


It’s been a while….
I decided to give up bike racing at the conclusion of the 2023 racing season. I got my GED, in my evenings I am now studying business management at Purdue Global online. I have also started a job as a Paralegal. Yes I also got a haircut.
I appreciate all the kindness and support I have received from everyone over the years! Special thanks to my wonderful coach @thejoeholmes I owe most of my success on and of the bike to him.
The above is from a post on Mak Parshall’s Instagram (@themakparshall). I started coaching Mak in March of 2022 when he was in his final season as a junior. Mak’s goal as a young rider was to become a professional so that was where I turned my “coaching dimmer switch” up to when it came to working with him. I encouraged him to race as much as he could (within reason of course) because if you want to be a professional bike racer you need to learn how to race and the best way to do that is….race.
Mak being Mak – went full gas with that advice making his own arrangements to travel to every local race possible as well as Tour of America’s Dairyland in Milwaukee and to Nationals. Never mind that he was only 18, he booked a flight to Milwaukee, arranged to stay at some race provided housing and was planning to ride to every race. The one race that was too far to ride to he was planning on taking the bus. When he told me that my first comment was “Dude, you might want to rethink that.” My second comment was “Let me make some calls and see if I can get you some transportation there,” while in my head I was thinking “Right on kid!” You see, Mak didn’t wait around for someone else to figure something out for him – he dove in himself and tried to figure out a way to accomplish something he decided he wanted to do. Now sometimes his “solutions” weren’t completely thought all the way through but at least he was giving it a shot. And, although at times that made it (really) challenging to work with Mak I also appreciated that he was trying to find solutions rather than come up with excuses. Later in in the summer of 2022 he also took part in the three week kermesse block that I directed along with three other juniors. He continued with that theme last year, his first as a U23 including another trip to Belgium to try his hand at more kermesse racing. 
During my time working with Mak a lot of the “coaching” had more to do with general life stuff and less of a prescription of volume and intensity. I stressed to him the importance of finishing his high school education as he had dropped out and also encouraged him to do things in moderation (when Mak jumped into something he was all in, and I mean ALL IN – something that would on more than one occasion come back to bite him in the ass). As is often the case the lessons learned can take awhile. At one point last year in Belgium Mak was staying with another group of young riders in the same complex as me and the group of juniors I had with me at the time. On a ride he came to me and said “Now I know why you had us do a lot of the things you stressed to us when we were here last year.”
Back during my time directng the Hagens Berman Domestic Elite team I would always start the first meeting with the guys with the following:
“The goal with this team is to get you to as many races as possible with the resources that we have available. My goal is to have as few of you sitting around this table as possible next year. That means one of two things, either you continue to develop and improve and take the next step to a professional team or you figure out that this life is not for you and you go on with your life’s work in another direction either school or a career. And either one of those things is a success as far as I am concerned.”
Mak put himself out there and did as much as he could with what he had in the world of bike racing. Then he made a decision to finish his education and pursue a different goal. And all of the things that he learned trying to go as far as possible in one of the toughest sports in the world are going to do nothing but help him in his new pursuit.
Congratulations Mak. I could not be happier for you.
And remember, there will always be time for a bike ride.