ARCHDALE — A teacher from Archdale has returned home after riding 1,240 miles on a one-man bike-a-thon to finance ChromeBooks for his middle-school students.
Michael Hatfield mounted his steel-frame mountain bike at 6 a.m. early last month, along with 100 other riders preparing to cycle 4,200 miles from Astoria, Ore. to Yorktown, Va.
“Each person was doing it for their own reasons,” said Hatfield, who posted the “Mr. Mike on a Bike” blog from his smartphone. “Some for charities, some for fun, some were running from the darkness in their life, some were chasing excitement. I was doing it for several reasons. Mostly to see if I can and to try to raise money for chromebooks.”
A Trinity High School 1983 graduate, Hatfield served in the military and worked as a software engineer before deciding to become a teacher in his 40s. A Randolph County Schools teacher for six years, he currently teaches eighth-grade science and math at Southeastern Randolph Middle School.
In 2012 Hatfield earned his bachelor’s degree in Middle School Education with a concentration in Math and Science from ECU. His teaching skills have extended beyond Randolph County and the continent of North America. After a four-year stint at Southwestern Randolph High School, he spent a summer teaching physics and math in China.
Hatfield, who started biking while he was earning his teaching degree, likes to challenge himself — and his students.
“My goal was always to go a little farther or faster,” he said. “Once I did a 100-mile ride in one day I was hooked. I started looking for longer and more challenging rides. The longest ride I did was 225 miles in a 24-hour event in Florida.”
Hatfield began planning for this summer’s cross-country ride about a year ago. While training for the long-distance ride, he lost 80 pounds. He also did research on gear, equipment and best methods to camp while on the road. The cross-country coast to coast route he chose is a popular one used by the American Cycling Association.
His ride ended much sooner than he planned however.
On June 20th Hatfield made the following post on social media.
“My ride ends this morning (after 1240 miles and 60,000 feet of climbing) in West Yellowstone. As you know on June 9th I was clipped by a car and shoved off the road. X-rays taken in the ER showed nothing broken so after resting a day I continued on. The soreness in my shoulder soon went away but the pain in my right knee only grew worse each day. I only have one functioning kidney so I always had extra water in my bags. All this weight (water, gear, food) and the climbing took its toll. My knee has only gotten worse over the past week.
“A physician in West Yellowstone confirmed my fears this morning. Damaged ACL from the accident aggravated by stubbornness to keep going has my knee inflamed and aching. Each pedal stroke yesterday was excruciating. And, he said, if I keep going it will likely result in permanent damage to my knee. Waiting it out is not an option. I'm in a knee brace for two weeks minimum.
“While I am truly disappointed in having to stop, I do have to say that the last 3 weeks have been incredible. I met a lot of awesome people and saw amazing places. It has changed me a little for the better I think and even with the pain it was definitely a great experience.”
Before he began his ride, Hatfield’s students signed the bags used to hold his gear. More than anything else, that was what motivated him to keep going.
Hatfield is a favorite among his students and school administrators. He credits the exemplary benchmark and EOG scores achieved by his students to two factors — differentiation and feedback.
“I may have some [students] that are on a sixth-grade level and some that will be able to pick up the material very quickly,” he said. “If I give them all the same work, I have some kids that can do it, complete the assignment right away. And they are good students, but when they get bored that’s when trouble starts. Then there are lower students who can’t do it or won’t try. With ChromeBook technology, I can put that carrot at the right place for every student.”
At his school, Hatfield said teachers have very few Chromebook carts to share. On the one day a week when he had access to the computer cart, differentiated assignments made a huge difference in his students’ accomplishments. He thought it would be great if he had Chromebooks for his students to use every day.
“With technology, it’s possible to create 32 different assignment using online resources that are already out there,” he said. “Without technology, it could be done, but it would be extremely difficult.”
Although he wasn’t able to reach his destination, Hatfield is still hoping to earn enough to buy 30 Chromebooks for his classroom. As of newspaper deadline, he had only reached $2,415 of his $13,500 goal. To pledge visit
Support Mr. Mike On a Bike on PledgeIt.org.
Staff writer Debbie Hightower may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-888-3576.