Scarborough cyclist to complete cross-country ride in memory of ‘legendary’ rider

Damian van Loon of Scarborough. Picture: Jon Hewson d479190
Damian van Loon of Scarborough. Picture: Jon Hewson d479190

A SCARBOROUGH cyclist is taking on an epic 5500km cross-country ride despite the cancellation of the official event following a rider’s death last year.

Damian van Loon will ride the solo and unsupported journey from Fremantle to Sydney in memory of “legendary” British cyclist Mike Hall, who died during last year’s Indian Pacific Wheel Race following a collision with a car.

The race had been scheduled to run again in 2018 but organisers decided this month to cancel it because of “potential outcomes” of an inquest into Hall’s death likely held later this year.

Mr van Loon and many fellow riders have decided to complete the course themselves, leaving Fremantle on March 17.

“I was originally devastated to hear the news that the race had been officially cancelled,” he said.

“I was always going to do the ride to be part of a great adventure and to have a shared experience with the other riders.

“I think this will still mostly be achieved.”

His goal is to finish the route in less than 20 days and cycled more than 21,000km in 2017 in preparation.

“I will be riding as fast as the weather conditions and fatigue allow but most importantly, I won’t be taking any unnecessary risks and I will also be getting a decent amount of sleep every night,” he said.

“Mike Hall was an inspiration to me, so in some ways I think he will be in my heart and mind as I ride.

“I want to reflect on his achievements and how they have inspired and encouraged so many people like myself to give ultra endurance cycling a go, that basically anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”

Mr van Loon competed in his first ultra-distance cycling race in 2016 and said he enjoyed testing his physical and mental endurance.

“I love the meditative aspects of cycling,” he said.

“It allows me to easily go into my special place of total focus, forgetting the worries of the world and soaking up the atmosphere of the natural environment around us.

“When you get to the end of a long ride there is such a high sense of personal achievement, that it was all done on your own, I guess it replicates our natural urge to discover the world and to challenge ourselves in ways we never thought possible.”

Follow Mr van Loon’s journey on Instagram

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