be interested in hearing about a recent cycling event which I believe
represents the best and worst the sport has to offer. The best includes drama, fun, challenge, and
interesting characters. Unfortunately,
this event ended in tragedy.
being described was the inaugural running of the Indian Pacific Wheel
Race. The race entails cycling 5,500 km
(3,400 mile) across Australia, from Perth to Sydney. The event organizer (and participant) was Melbourne
cyclist and bike shop owner Jesse Carlson.
Roughly 70 cyclists entered the event.
The key characteristic of the event was its unsupported nature. Cyclists were not allowed to accept any aid. They carried their own food and water. They were permitted to purchase supplies
along the route, but only those that were available to everyone. Most of the cyclists carried sleeping gear
and slept in the scrub along the roadway, although some chose to stay in motels.
aware of this event by virtue of following the Youtube channel of Melbourne
cyclist Mark Ferguson (aka The Cycling Maven).
Mark has been putting out a cycling vlog for the past year or so. I have found his videos to be well made,
interesting, and often humorous. Mark put
out a number of videos relating to the IPWR in the months leading up to the
race. As the starting date approached,
Mark made the bold decision to quit his regular job, enter the race, and devote
his energies to his cycling channel on a full time basis.
participants in the race included some world class endurance cyclists (among
them Kristof Allegaert, Mike Hall, and Sarah Hammond), famous cycling
journalist Rupert Guiness, and a smattering of other cyclists from around the
world. Social media coverage of the race
was excellent, with a sophisticated GPS tracking service that allowed race ‘watchers’
from around the work to follow the progress of participants. There were also frequent and excellent
updates provided on various Facebook and Youtube pages.
began on March 18, and it was quite interesting to follow the daily adventures
and travails of the race participants.
Many dropped out along the way, due to fatigue or medical issues. One participant was struck and injured by a
car early on. Another suffered an
allergic reaction to medication, and had to be hospitalized (she subsequently
returned to the starting point and restarted the race). Kristof Allegaert and Mike Hall quickly
forged to the front, and raced ahead of the remainder of the field. Sarah Hammond maintained a strong 3rd
place. The leaders approached Sydney on March
31, with hours to go to the finish.
in the pre-dawn hours of March 31, Mike Hall was struck and killed by an
automobile. The authorities are still
investigating the cause of the accident.
The driver was taken to the hospital in shock. It is clear that the race leaders were
extremely fatigued and riding at the limits of mental and physical endurance at
this point in the race. There is sure to
be some public outcry regarding the level of risk taken in an event of this
was cancelled shortly after Mike was killed.
Some riders continued on with their ride, while others decided to
abandon. Various Mike Hall Tribute rides
occurred on Saturday, April 1, throughout the world, including the city of
Sydney. It is very unfortunate that such
an exciting and entertaining event ended in such a tragic way. RIP, Mike Hall.
IPWR Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/IndianPacificWheelRace
IPWR website, with Tracker:
Cycling Maven Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB5vTUmuLCWqiTRDOApgR-g