Thursday, April 27, 2017


Spring was proceeding with its usual vigor.  I was amped up and ramping up while watching, or dot-watching, the IPWR. The Indian Pacific Wheel Race is an annual self-supported bike race across the southern coast of Australia and attracts the world's top level ultra endurance athletes.  This includes one of my personal bike mentors, Nathan Jones, the organizer of the TransAm bike race, inventor of a little race called the Steens Mazama 1000, and a badass athlete himself.

Nathan had tucked the IPWR into the back pocket of his own personal trans world quest.  So I dot-watched and cheered and commented and was inspired by the derring-do of Nathan and these other cycling legends.  I watched MH chase KA across the map, and enjoyed the comments theorizing on why and how and where every rider was.  The MH dot stopped moving for a while.  He must be sleeping.  I kept checking and finally saw an ominous yet vague announcement from the race organizers that they'd keep us updated on an incident.  Later that evening, the race was called off and the incident was  reported as the death of Mike Hall.
There's a certain gripping grief that comes when a stranger you admire dies.  When the stranger is a celebrity to you, a legend of your own sport, a friend of many of your friends, and the loss is tragic and unnecessary.  A car crash.  I don't care about the details, I only care that someone good is gone and that cars continue to take away good people, whether from the inside or the outside, and it's all normalized into "accidents".  F that.

"The show must go on" often translates to athletic events, but in this case, the IPWR organizers decided to fade to black.  Drop the curtains, the show is over.  There's no more going on now, we've lost one of our own and he'll never come back.  Fin.

I have utmost respect for the racers that did continue to ride, and can barely imagine the pain and emotional trauma this whole story created.  Everyone reacts differently.  For me, blubbering publicly about a man I only met once seemed perfectly appropriate.
The following week, Velocult hosted a sweet memorial get together for Mike.  They had a slide show with inspirational pictures of this heroic rider, and a book to sign, which would be sent to his family.  I was honored to receive a small sticker, which I immediately put on my bike.  Tailwinds, MH, and thanks for the inspiration.

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