Shortly after I started cycling, the second edition of the Transcontinental began a mile from my home and completely captured my imagination. At the time I considered anything beyond 20km as a big ride and was in awe of the superheroes taking part and the exploits of race organiser, Mike Hall. Two years and 4,000km later I’m standing in a cobbled square in Turkey, shaking his hand and thanking he and Anna for their inspiration and the life-changing opportunity they gave me.
In the early hours of the final day of the 5,500km Indian Pacific Wheel Race across Australia Mike lost his life in a collision with a vehicle.
The TCR and the unsupported ultra-distance races it inspires are rare opportunities for adventure in a largely sanitised time. Risk is an inherent part of adventure but that’s not to be confused with recklessness. One of Mike’s great qualities was his perspective and incredible wisdom. He could persevere and endure like nobody else but was never afraid to stop or turn back when the risks became too great, no matter the prize; The mark of a truly wise man.
Mike championed our right to assess risk and make our own informed, considered choices. This must be celebrated and continued in his passing. During race briefings Mike would confront the risks head on and made sure that every rider understood exactly what they were taking on.
With the enormous collective mileage of our ultra-cycling community we must accept that there will be accidents. This should be viewed in context, remembering that almost 1,000,000km were ridden during the 2016 TCR alone. We all roll the dice every day of our lives (even the seemingly mundane days) and our responsibility is to consciously, actively manage those risks against the rewards as we strive to live a life worthy of the time we’re given.
It was impossible not to like Mike. For a man of such world-beating accomplishments he was modest and unassuming. He didn’t chase wealth or fame. He was quietly charitable. He ran the TCR and raced simply because it was his passion. Along the way he and Anna created and inspired an incredible community of riders and dot-watchers that I know will continue his legacy.
“Mike’s now riding on the other side. He’s probably already scoping out sketchy gravel sections and vicious climbs for when we get there.”
I am a happier, healthier, wiser man for Mike’s influence and will always strive to ‘be more Mike’.
Ride in peace Mike. Thank you.
I would encourage you to show your love for Mike by supporting his family and the causes that were important to him through this JustGiving page. At the time of writing (barely a few hours since it was launched) the fund has already gone through the roof. This is an ongoing demonstration of the huge love, respect and admiration the world has for Mike. It is also proof that even death can’t slow the man down!