For nearly two weeks now, fans of ultra endurance cycling have had a tab open on their internet browsers,watching little dots move across a map. On Thursday, one of those dots stopped moving when Mike Hall, the ultra cycling legend, died in a collision with a vehicle. His GPS transmitter left a tragically poignant reminder of his incredible legacy: Hall died just a day away from the finish of the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race in Australia.
The 35-year-old's unassuming image and soft spoken nature never communicated the fierce competitor and driven athlete within. That only came out when Hall was halfway across a continent, riding hundreds of miles a day. Hall won the first world cycle race in 2012, finishing weeks ahead of his competition in just over 92 days. Since his debut in the 2011 Transamerica race, Hall won self-supported races that crossed the USA from north to south and east to west, and helped create the Transcontinental ultra endurance race across Europe. Despite his incredible abilities, he was always humble and ready to talk to anyone. .
Details of Hall's death are still emerging. He was entering the last day of his race across Australia. It seems that Hall was hit by a vehicle in the early hours of the morning and died at the scene. It was a clear night on Monaro Highway near Williamsdale in Australian Capital Territory, with no fog. The driver of the vehicle was taken to the hospital, and police have yet to release more information. The organizers of the race immediately cancelled the event and issued a statement. "The tragedy is a great loss to the global cycling community," it read, [and] he leaves an incredible legacy." Hall had been competing for the first time with ultracycling’s other dominating force, Belgium’s Kristof Allegaert, for the overall victory. Allegaert only discovered that the race was cancelled when he finished.
For Mike Hall, no challenge was insurmountable. Continents, mountain ranges and vast deserts were just distances to be ridden and experiences to be enjoyed. He never looked at a map and said something was too hard or too far. His Yorkshire grit and quiet strength came from growing up in a community of coal miners and factory workers. Hall took that same mentality into his cycling; he never grumbled or complained — he just got the job done, even when the “job” was truly remarkable.
When I think of Mike Hall, I think of his Instagram bio line: "the mountain won't climb itself." He was a man of few words, incredible strength and unique ability. He inspired so many others to share in the sport he loved. Hall was a pioneer and evangelist for ultracycling and it will never be the same without his pinched cheeks, Yorkshire accent and trademark moustache. He is survived by his partner Anna and mourned by the cycling world.