Mike Hall interview: breaking the round-the-world record and Cycle A Difference

Round-the-world cycle record holder, Mike Hall, is preparing for his next adventure – and you could be riding with him.

Hall, who on Monday June 4 rode into London’s Greenwich Park to finish an epic 18,000-mile ride in world record time, will take part in a 10-day ride through Vietnam next May to continue his fundraising efforts for the charity, Newborns Vietnam.

Seven places remain on the 10-day, cyclo-sportive ride through rural north-west Vietnam , with participants required to raise or donate £3,000 to the UK-registered charity.

Mike Hall crosses the finish line in Greenwich Park on Monday June 6 to set a new record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle: 91 days and 18 hours. Picture: Rory at Upgrade Bikes

Hall raised funds for the charity, which trains nurses and equips a neo-natal unit at the Da Nang hospital, on his record-breaking ride after receiving support for his attempt from the charity’s trustee, Velobrands director, Luke Humphreys.

He told RCUK: “I was in the [round the world] race and doing the ride for its own sake really, for the sport of it, rather than raising money for charity.

“But it was such a focus for that sort of thing that to not raise any money would have been an opportunity wasted. I was looking around at various charities I could raise money for, because I don’t have a cause that’s close to my heart particularly.

“I got involved with Luke and Velobrands and Kask Helmets and Juice Lubes who support me and he asked if I would be happy to support Newborns Vietnam, because he and his mum are trustees; seeing how much it meant to them really made my mind up.”

The trip will be staged between May 14 and May 23 2013. Ten days will be spent in the saddle. Hall said riders who could manage a hilly 100-mile ride would be prepared for the ride, and said the roads would be of similar quality to those found in the Alps.

The Cycle-A-Difference ride will take in the breathtaking Vietnamese scenery

He first heard of the Round the World Cycle Race in March or April of 2011 and liked the sound of it, but wasn’t prepared to consider the challenge seriously until he had ridden a long-distance race.

The Tour Divide, a 2700-mile race from Canada to Mexico, provided the experience, and last October he began to train for the record attempt, initially with 150-mile-a-day jaunts on both days of the weekend, mid-week hill sessions, and latterly 120-mile rides on a fixed gear bike to build strength.

“It was good to have the Tour Divide under my belt. It was the biggest part of my training, if you like. “I found at the Tour Divide it wasn’t so much fatigue that was going to hold me back, it was injury,” he said.

Fueling was a challenge managed partly by slowing down when Hall hadn’t eaten enough. He began to recognise a taste in his mouth when carb stores had been depleted to a level when fat was burned for fuel.

Australia’s vast and arid Nullabor Plain provided the toughest moments of the record attempt, where he was forced to ride into a constant headwind. “The longer I spent on the flat, the slower I got,” he said. “It made my riding stale. When I got back to Adelaide and back into the hills made me feel more like a bike rider and made me enjoy the cycling more than when I’d been cycling on the flat, grinding into a headwind for days on end.”

Headwinds formed the primary logistical consideration: planning a route to minimise the debitating effects of riding into a wind. His eastward route was based on an understanding that a windblown crossing through Australia would leave him well-placed for North America.

Hall’s experiences on the Tour Divide informed his packing strategy. “There’s a saying on that, that if you only use it once, don’t take it. You need to take everything, but if you take nothing, you make do. I took two spare spokes.”

Enthusiasm levels of spectators ranged from “inquisition” from a constant stream of motorcyclists to indifference from the staff of an American bike shop.

“Of all the people I met, the so-called ‘normal’ people on the street were far more receptive and far more talkative than any bike shop people,” he said.

His return to London on Monday June 4 in the midst of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations reunited Hall with family and friends, but he had known in France that the record was his.

“I was picking my way through central London and I suddenly arrived at the park. I didn’t realise how close I was. I got over the finish line and people crowded round me, expecting me to say something.

“Lots of people were asking questions. I was probably there a couple of hours talking to people. I didn’t feel I could sit down and take it in. Then we were off in a taxi to TV and radio studios. It was all a bit full on.”

The record was initially logged at 91 days and 18 hours, but following a rule change to include transfer times, is now recorded at 107 days 2hrs and 37min.

Hall plans to write a book detailing the experiences of his record-breaking ride, and next May will cycle through Vietnam with Humphreys and up to 50 volunteers, each of whom must raise or donate £3,000 for Newborns Vietnam.

To find out more about the ride, visit Cycle-A-Difference.

To back Mike, visit

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