More than two dozen cyclists will next month set off to ride across Australia in tribute to the late Mike Hall despite the cancellation, announced this week, of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race (IPWR).
The British rider was killed in March last year as he headed from Canberra towards the finish at Sydney Opera House during the inaugural edition of the race, which was immediately cancelled.
An inquest into his death is due to be held later this year, and organisers Dragon Face Pty Ltd said “as more information about the potential outcomes of this process have become clear only very recently,” they were cancelling this year’s race.
Their statement on Tuesday prompted speculation in the comments that the inquest may be in some way critical of the race organisation, and the company made it clear that “Any person deciding to ride the IPWR course as their own endurance or bike touring challenge chooses to do so individually.”
It added: “No information to assist or facilitate such pursuits will be provided. Dragon Face Pty Ltd has no association with GPS tracking companies that riders may use while bike touring.”
However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that so far, 28 cyclists – more than a quarter of those who entered this year’s IPWR – have pledged to undertake a solo, unsupported 5,500-kilometre “people’s ride” from Fremantle to Sydney.
The event, billed as a ride rather than a race, will start on 17 March, with the riders departing from the port city in Western Australia at 6.22am, the time Hall’s tracker stopped moving.
Followers of the race, known as “dot-watchers,” will be able to follow their progress via GPS tracking.
Among those taking part will be Australian cycling journalist Rupert Guinness, who rode the IWPR last year and appeared in a documentary about it, as did Hall.
Another returning rider will be another Australian, Ryan ‘Rhino’ Flynn, while one of 2017’s dot-watchers, former Fremantle Dockers Australian Rules Football player Brad Bootsma, will also be taking part along with training partner Phil McCorriston.
Bootsma, aged 45, who has spent the last year training for the IPWR, said: "I just thought 'I've started something, I want to finish it'.
"I got the recommendation again from the wife to say 'no worries' so we're going to head off with 21 others at the moment. Hopefully there will be more to come."
Flinn, 31 years of age, said: "It's a nice thing to do in Mike's memory, to make sure the ride is kept alive and his memory is honoured.
"That's why a lot of people will still pitch up in Fremantle."
Speaking of last year’s IPWR Flinn, who was almost hit head-on by a car being driven by foreign tourists on the wrong side of the road on the same day Hall was killed, said: "It was extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.
"A lot of people were inspired by the race and by the individuals who were riding."
But he added: "I'd love to change the mentality where the most vulnerable of road users is perhaps given the most amount of respect.
"A truck is considered [to deserve] the utmost respect and has rule over the road whereas perhaps a cyclist doesn't really belong there. That needs to change."
A Facebook group, called Indian Pacific Wheel Ride (Dotwatchers) has been set up to help provide news about the ride, with the page’s creators making it clear it has no affiliation with the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.