"I have hosts of friends, but not more than half a dozen the news of whose death would spoil my breakfast." - Lord MacAulay
Woken earlier than normal today thanks to a reminder for a dental appointment, I groped for my 'phone beside the bed and couldn't quite believe what I was reading. I was back in May 1994, with a sick feeling in my stomach, for the loss of a man I never even met.
|By Cm2white - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, |
Mike Hall and Ayrton Senna were both extraordinary men. Both died at almost my age, doing something they loved, doing it flat-out, at the top of their game, and in days where they had expressed concerns about safety.
On reading with disbelief of Mike's death, hit by a car near Canberra, Australia, in a part of the world where cyclists are by all accounts pretty poorly esteemed, I was reminded of the moment, sat in the back of my parents' car on the way back from church all those years ago, I heard the radio news announce that Senna had died. It couldn't be true - he was one of the greatest. He was only 35. He was an inspiration. It wasn't right.
There are those that have died during heroic feats of human endeavour, where the risk of their activity was created by nature - but Mike was doing something we do. He was riding his bike. He was better at it and more dedicated to it than most of us can hope to be, but it really hit home that this was a man-made danger to which he had succumbed. An avoidable loss.
Today's devastating news cuts to the heart of the long-distance cycling community - our community. As a family we offer our condolences to Mike's family, and to his friends and ours who today mourn his untimely loss. A fund has been set up to support his family, and the love and respect from the cycling community towards one of their own, a true one-off, is palpable. He lived life to the full and inspired so many.
Mike Hall won the 2012 'Round the World Cycle Race' in 91 days, 18 hours. He went on to win other ultra-cycling races, and to organise them. He was chasing the leader of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race when he was killed.
As the dentist drilled my teeth earlier, I heard the Divine Comedy on the radio. "You have got to love what you do". We have the consolation that Mike, like Senna, did just that - and he leaves as his legacy a challenge that we should do the same - and do it to the full.
I wasn't privileged to have met Mike Hall, but I didn't have any breakfast this morning.
That smile. Ride in Peace Mike Hall. RIP pic.twitter.com/TlFyTG3i4d— Sean Conway (@Conway_Sean) March 31, 2017