When someone is killed in a terrible accident a normal and completely human reaction would be to get angry and look for someone to blame for the terrible grief and loss that you feel.
Except that isn’t what happened after the death of Mike Hall.
His friends and family pulled together to ensure that his legacy of the Transcontinental Race lived on. They were also compelled to set up a weekend in his memory that really captured Mike, the countryside he called home and the ethos by which he lived.
This weekend was called TINAT – this is not a tour. A number of rides run over two days in Audax format in what was Mike’s back garden of mid Wales. The Highland Moors Hotel in Llandrindod Wells served as a base for Audax HQ and the end of weekend hog roast.
The weekend was everything that is good about cycling.
There was something for everyone, with everything from a gruelling 600km, populaire events for those wanting to camp out to shorter (relatively speaking) 100km events for all the family. With mothers, sons, fathers, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends all fettling with their bikes the night before excited to be part of the weekend. Some people who weren’t up for riding were helping out at control points and provided friendly faces and yummy cake at regular intervals throughout the weekend.
Anyone who spends enough time hanging around long distance rides whether Audax or races will know that big egos are few and far between. Instead there are understated characters, chatty types, quiet types, not quite sure what they’ve signed themselves up for types. Our motley crew from Audax Club Bristol assembled for the 400km brevet populaire. A unique opportunity to ride a 400km ride over two days with time for sightseeing and a hillside bivvy, maybe this was a tour? Peter, recently retired was the subject of a few geriatric jokes. Doug earned the name of the Duracell Bunny for his rapid climbing on his 1990s repurposed steel rigid mountain bike. Ben, a frame building engineering documentary maker was riding on his own handbuilt road frame with his kit packed away in a trusty Carradice. Myself with my handbuilt steel bike with more traditional bikepacking setup. They were such a merry band of men to ride with. As night drew and the temperature drop Peter started to regret bringing very minimal sleeping kit so he borrowed the pizza box that my dinner came in as a sleeping mat! By the end it felt like we’d been on an odyssey together and they proclaimed themselves my adoptive uncles. As someone who lost their father to a road accident as a child this was really touching.
Audax Club Bristol spent months (I’m not joking, MONTHS!) discussing the best tyre options for a long ride that was mostly hilly country lanes with the occasional gravel section, what gear to bring, what to wear (Peter mostly, not me). Discussion was so intense it warranted its own WhatsApp group. Some built up bikes for the event, Doug gave his old Marin a new lease of life, others just switched their tyres, some got busy and didn’t get around to building what they wanted and rode on their usual road/Audax bikes on 23mm tyres. Some total headcases also rode fixed wheel bikes. At the end when all the bikes were leaning up against the back wall of the hotel there was a lot of window shopping going along!
Hard Riding and Hills
Wales is not flat. This was a challenging and relentless ride taking us to some of the most remote places in mid Wales. Nothing that is worthwhile is never easy and there is always a view from the top (if it isn’t raining).
“You can keep your nice, your leisurely and your convenience” Mike Hall 2016 (The Bugle by Brooks England)
Self Supported Adventure
Mid Wales is stunning, remote and quiet. We almost forgot about cars and on the gravel we really could! There is nothing better than riding through what feels like middle earth with pockets full of cake, the sun on your face and miles in your legs. My words will do the beautiful views horrible injustice but thankfully we weren’t taking the riding too hard and I took lots of photos!
Different to people. The people are amazing but this community is greater than the sum of its parts. With organisers, riders, supporters and friends you’d be forgiven for forgetting that this was an event put on in memory of someone who had died. Yes, there were moments of sadness and grief at the loss of an inspirational rider that had great influence on the lives of so many. However, more powerful than this was a sense of strength, forgiveness and humanity. There are lots of life lessons to be learned from long distance riding. A lot of these lessons are to do with managing our own minds, efforts and sense of perspective and gratitude but more important are the lessons of humanity.
I’m saving the date for next year http://tinat.cymru/