I think deep down, if we are completely honest there has always been a fascination with extraordinary people doing extraordinary things, these are people we only ever get to read about in the press or glimpse in the National Geographic, I feel quite often that our dreams are lived through following such people and the extraordinary things they do and achieve.
On Tuesday 20th March 2012 having tracked Mike Hall’s progress regularly over the previous couple of days I made plans to try to meet with him as he passed through Bunbury Western Australia, like many other people I am fascinated as to why and how people like Mike push themselves to a level of endurance that I would imagine only a few percent of the world population will ever achieve.
With military precision needed due to the race tracker update time, a 15 minute window of opportunity was the most I would have to intercept Mike as he passed through in the night, naively I thought that Mike would be stopping in Bunbury as it was now 7.45pm, it was dark and the highway he was on was unlit and still reasonably busy from all the mine site trucks that operate through the night, I headed north for a few km’s before crossing over to the south bound lane so as not to miss him as he passed in the dark, I waited no more than 5 minutes before a light appeared from behind the trucks, it looked like the glow of LED lighting but the speed looked more consistent with a moped, as it got closer it was clearly a cycle, I recognised the bike from Mike’s press pictures, unsure how to attract his attention in the dark on an unlit stretch of highway I called his name, he stopped as I approached him you could see a far away look that only someone in what I imagine is there zone would have (I genuinely felt guilty for stopping him), I quickly explained I had been following his progress and would love to ride with him for a few km’s, Mike quickly explained he was hungry and needed a re fuel, Pizza was the order of the day and directing from the back we headed to the nearest pizza shop.
So many questions so little time……
Any questions you have are quickly forgotten, there was an awareness of time when in Mikes company, he has clearly had to manage his time efficiently and you really do get a sense of this from him, Mike kindly explained the route he had taken, the difference between drivers in different countries (always a popular subject with cyclists) who would have thought that France would have the win there! how he had seen poverty and things that made him question peoples actions towards there own environments in India, also the way in which different people received him as a cyclist throughout his journey.
I asked what it takes to get to this point, Mike casually replied that anyone could do it…… he is very reserved about his own ability’s, I’m not sure he really knows just how out of the ordinary his achievements are to us mortal folk, this and his willingness to share his experience will I’m sure take him a long way in whatever direction he chooses.
Mike was looking in great shape, he said he felt good and was managing any problems and injuries on the bike as he went, he went on to say that managing these problems efficiently and having your mine straight is essential to a strong ride, even more so than physical ability.
After a quick re fuel it was straight back to the saddle, a picture, sign his book to say he was here ,a explanation of Quick Energy, his sponsors (a true professional never misses an opportunity) and back on the road, I’m grateful Mike allowed me to ride a few km’s with him before we parted company as he disappeared into the darkness doing what he does best, pumping out the miles.
Mike, thanks for your time it was a real pleasure to meet you and an inspiration to hear what is possible as a normally aspirated human.