Early in 2016, I finally sat down to watch Inspired to Ride, the documentary about the inaugural TransAm Bike Race. I had heard a bit about it, but I had no idea the kind of impact it would have on me. Well after watching it once, and then again the next day, I was in love with the TransAm. To my wife’s major annoyance, I talked about it for months on end. I pouted when she reminded me that there was “no fucking way I was racing across the country while we still had kids in school.” I daydreamed about sleep strategies. I pored over endless pictures of racing rig setups. I wondered if I could bunny hop the curb at the Newton Bike Shop like Mike Hall did.
Mike Hall. That dude was a machine.
Here I was, a middle-aged man, and I wanted to be Mike Hall. I wanted to get on a bike like he did and race across the country with little to no sleep while snarfing down the shittiest slash tastiest convenience store food in America. By all accounts, he was just a ridiculously fast human who also happened to be an incredibly nice guy. He was doing what he loved and he was damn good at it. How many of us can honestly say that? I would be happy with just half of that equation. Not only did Mike win the first TransAm, but he also won the Tour Divide (twice) and founded the Transcontinental Race (TCR).
During the last few weeks he had been riding in the very first Indian Pacific Wheel Race (IPWR), a grueling unsupported race across the Australian continent. And I had been following along, blabbing about the race to anyone even remotely interested in bikes. I was all in and had already added it to the mental list of SHIT I WAS GOING TO DO. Of course Mike was among the leaders, battling it out with the great Kristof Allegaert and Sarah Hammond. Until he wasn’t.
Mike was hit by a car and killed this morning. The Indian Pacific Wheel Race has been cancelled.
It’s a weird feeling to shed tears over someone you never met and who doesn’t know who you are. You feel silly and immature and embarrassed. I can’t really explain my reaction, but it was an honest one. I just wish I had a chance to thank him for living a life that inspires me.
Thank you, Mike.