Despite his cane, which he explains is for identifying obstacles, and Pelham, which he says is for avoiding them, van Hall says he’s taken falls and broken bones as a result of what he calls overconfidence in his blindness. The avid cyclist blames his pride for his hesitancy to try a tandem bicycle as well.
“It took me a year to realize I would never ride again and should sell my bike,” he says. When a friend challenged van Hall to complete a 100-mile ride with him on a tandem bike, he was not enthused about the invitation or the lack of control he’d experience.
“The ability to accept help has been a process for me. I was used to being independent, so it was a difficult transition.” Van Hall says he finally decided he could be proud while sitting on the couch or getting on a bike, so he bought a tandem. He’s now completed Ride the Rockies six times—four times when he could see and twice blind on a tandem. He has ridden for Team Samaritan House, helping to raise $120,000 for the Denver homeless shelter.
Riding without sight gives van Hall the opportunity to engage his other senses.
“I could smell the pine forest and hear the rivers running next to us, and the huffing and puffing of other riders,” he says.
Van Hall devotes his time to motivational speaking engagements and, grilling. His talks center around the idea of approaching life with an attitude of curiosity, something he’s done through this life transition.
“Instead of simply continuing with life,” he shares, “my curiosity pushed me to flourish.”