As we are all still digesting the tragic news of Mike Hall’s death while competing in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, we decided that we weren’t in the mood for any April Fool’s frivolity today. Instead we thought you might like to sit back, or ride out, and remember what it was about him – and not just his incredible endurance achievements – that earned him this Legend award.
We published this brief profile of Mike Hall in Issue 109, following his receipt of our Singletrack Legend award last year.
Mike Hall is a quiet, unassuming rider, happy to chat tyre treads, or pies, or great trails. But he’s also capable of turning round and smashing out 200 off road miles, day after day, carrying fewer possessions than we’d take on a day in the Peaks.
Having only seriously got into 24 hour endurance mountain bike racing in 2009, in his late 20s, Mike quickly showed that he had the focus and absolute discipline to prepare for the longer, blue riband events like the Tour Divide.
Preparing through cold, dark winter, often riding a hugely geared fixie through the lanes of Yorkshire, Mike racked up the miles, pared down his equipment and finished 11th on his first attempt at the Tour Divide. This was followed by a first place in the World Cycle Race (around the world in 91 days…), a first at the Tour Divide in 2013 (that wasn’t officially a record due to a forest-fire diversion) and another first in the 2016 Tour Divide, smashing the record while he was at it in 13 days, 22 hours and 51 mins.
We caught up with Mike at the Singletrack Awards night, last October, to get some insight into what makes him tick and what keeps him motivated.
Mike: Having that big scary goal certainly helps, but I also like mixing up riding styles. I actually don’t do a huge amount of miles through the winter and just enjoy riding. It’s very difficult to simulate a multi day race without taking off for multiple days but you don’t really need to if you have the previous experience and ‘form’ from previous events. The form that three months at 200 miles per day gives you, lasts years also, so the effect of one big race one year carries over to the next year and after 48-72 hrs on the bike the ability to push onward day after day seems always to come back and from there on in the riding part is business as usual and it’s a game of not staying still for too long.
After races is where I usually suffer for motivation [but] whenever I really struggled for motivation on a ride I take the opportunity to go explore those lanes and trails I’ve never been down to see where they go. If you go and get lost on a ride it’s very difficult to cut it short and head home.
Singletrack: You’ve racked up some impressive results so far. Until they start riding on the moon, what is next for you?
Mike: Since the Round the World thing I think I’m finished with bigger and bigger mileages, Tour Divide I think was more satisfying because there is an established prestige to that race, so you are likely to meet a strong field and some of the best racers. For me next year I am looking forward to getting back to some more singletrack, so the Arizona Trail Race 750, which is the longest singletrack race in the world, is likely to be my focus. I am lucky to have great support from Pivot who are based in Phoenix and I have not yet had a good excuse to take full advantage of their suspension bikes, so two birds and one stone and all that.
Mike was not only a prolific endurance rider but he also wrote too. Here’s a feature he wrote for us way back in year one (Issue 4 2001) of the Singletrack magazine history about our sport and lifestyle. Should I stay or Should I Grow – By Mike Hall – 2001