September 30, 2010

"Once he imagined he was being pursued by men with black beards on horseback — mujahedeen..."

"he explained to his support team, who encouraged him to ride faster and keep ahead of them."

Jure Robic, the endurance bicyclist, who pushed himself beyond sleep and beyond reason, rode 50 mph down an unpaved twisty hill and who knows what he was hallucinating when he hit that car and entered into the final, endless ride that is eternity.
[H]e once rode 518.7 miles in 24 hours....

One occasional feature of his training regimen, which included daily rides or other workouts stretching between 6 and 10 hours, was a 48-hour period without sleep: a 24-hour ride followed by a 12-hour break followed by a 12-hour workout. ... [He] rode 28,000 miles — more than the circumference of the Earth — every year.

His five victories in the Race Across America, an approximately 3,000-mile transcontinental ride that has been held annually since 1982, are unequaled....

The winner generally sleeps less than two hours out of 24 and finishes in less than nine days....

In 2005, Robic won the race and two weeks later won Le Tour Direct, a 2,500-mile European version with a course derived from Tour de France routes that included 140,000 feet of climbing — almost the equivalent of starting at sea level and ascending Mt. Everest five times. His time was 7 days 19 hours.

As each race went on, Robic’s temper grew shorter and occasionally exploded. He was prone to hallucinations. More than once he leapt off his bicycle to do battle with threatening attackers who turned out to be mailboxes.
Amazing. With races like this, somebody has to be the guy that can go to the greatest extreme. Robic was 45, and it's hard to see how he lasted that long.

47 comments:

Pogo said...

"He once rode 518.7 miles in 24 hours."

Now, the big sleep.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You should also add the tag: stupid.

Darwin award candidate.

Meade said...

Lived young, died fast.

k*thy said...

Insane OCD. The guy had a spigot he couldn't turn off. RIP Jure.

Zach said...

There was a really interesting article on him in the NYT magazine a few years back:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/sports/playmagazine/05robicpm.html?pagewanted=print

Pogo said...

I myself prefer the occasional nap.

But here's Cindi Lauper:
I drove all night.

The Crack Emcee said...

This is a great idea for what to do with delusional types:

Give 'em a sport!

The Devil's after you - RIDE!

Sea Monsters - ROW!

God is really pissed - RUN!

Pogo said...

"God is really pissed - RUN!"

Where???


VW: pabibled =)

k*thy said...

Crack - you're not that far from the truth.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

As each race went on, Robic’s temper grew shorter and occasionally exploded. He was prone to hallucinations.

Was his middle name Quixote?

peter hoh said...

Twice in my youth, I waited along the Black Horse Pike (or maybe it was the White Horse Pike) to see the leader of the RAA ride past.

peter hoh said...

Thanks to Google Maps, I'm pretty sure it was the White Horse Pike.

Anyway, waited a long time once for nothing. The other time, I managed to see the lead rider and his support vehicle.

Clyde said...

How do you say "Darwin Award" in Slovenian?

Pogo said...

How do you say "Darwin Award" in Slovenian?

Zaupati v pokoj.

(RIP)

Michael said...

The Darwin Award is an easy laugh but how, exactly, does it apply here? Was his accident due to the number of miles he had ridden thus increasing the probability of his number coming up? I don't see that. Do extreme efforts automatically qualify one for the award? Usually the award is given to something that is manifestly stupid and nearly certain to cause death. I wouldn't find that the case here with this extreme athlete. The fifty mile ride that ended his life wasn't of the duration that created the hallucinations that are not uncommon to ultra distance participants so why the connection?
Is it because most of us cannot ride a bicycle at 21.6 miles per hour for ten minutes much less 24 hours and therefore it is a relief to see that he killed himself thus preventing us from trying for the ten minutes? There is a reflex sneering that mystifies me. Seems beneath the usual views of this crowd.

Ann Althouse said...

"Black Horse Pike (or maybe it was the White Horse Pike)..."

I've spent a lot of time on those pikes! My parents lived in south Jersey when I was in college and I had to come home for the summer and find a damned job there.

Had one job at a Burger Chef looking out on the Black Horse Pike. Oh! That was bleak.

Had another at a diner on the White Horse Pike. What pain! Oh! The 25 cent tips!

edutcher said...

Agree with Michael. Darwins are for those who do something that marks them as unfit for the gene pool as well as removing the from this Vale of Tears.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Usually the award is given to something that is manifestly stupid and nearly certain to cause death.

And you don't think that

"who pushed himself beyond sleep and beyond reason, rode 50 mph down an unpaved twisty hill "

isn't manifestly stupid?

Going 48 hours without sleep, hallucinating and riding a bike at 50 mph isn't stupid?

If he was a redneck truck driver hallucinating from lack of sleep racing down a slick hill and did a crash and burn, I assume you would have no problem with the potential Darwin award.

Is it because this dope was participating in a sport that has 'things yuppie white people do' written all over it, that people somehow think what he was doing was smart or normal?

It's too bad he died. But....he did it to himself so I have zero sympathy. At least he didn't take anyone out with him.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ditto for mountain climbing and morons who kill themselves on top of an icy peak.

Do it if you want, but don't expect me to be sorry when you kill yourself doing something stupid and useless.

The worse thing about the mountain climbing suicide wanna be's is that they then involve other people risking their lives trying to save their sorry asses.

No sympathy.

Richard Dolan said...

Fanatical, singleminded behaviour so over the top that it qualifies as freakish. You need some of that to excel at anything. Too much and life imitates a black hole, with everything being sucked down and crushed into a singularity. Like Bolero, after the long, rising crescendo, it all ends in an ugly mess.

k said...

These types are risk takers and adrenaline junkies. They're pushing envelopes. Are they selfish and self absorbed? Yeah. Pretty much, they only harm those closest to them, as was in this story. Darwin award? Hardly.

Ankur said...

By DBQ's standards, other candidates for Darwin award: Christopher Columbus,Edmund Hillary,Tenzing Norgay,Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin,Dr. David Livingston, Roald Amundsen, Robert Frost, Magellan, Marco Polo..and on and on.

In other words, anyone who has knowingly taken on unknown risks and advanced human frontiers, rather than doing the bare minimum to stay safe and human.

All I can say is: thank God for stupid.

Ankur said...

And another egregious comment -

"Do it if you want, but don't expect me to be sorry when you kill yourself doing something stupid and useless."

Do you seriously believe any of the people who push themselves to the extremes expect you to be sorry? expect your sympathy? That is probably the last thing they care about.

The megalomania here is sometimes stultifying.

Donald said...

Robic, who was going downhill on a mountain bike, may have been traveling as fast as 50 miles per hour on a narrow, winding stretch of unpaved road where it was impossible to see around the next bend.

"taken on unknown risks"...?
"advanced human frontiers"...yeah, right

mrs whatsit said...

"More than once he leapt off his bicycle to do battle with threatening attackers who turned out to be mailboxes."

I am not ordinarily disposed to praise the writing in the NYT, but THAT is a great sentence.

Ankur said...

I suppose the only frontiers worth expanding are the ones that meet your approval. There's that megalomania again.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Christopher Columbus,Edmund Hillary,Tenzing Norgay,Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin,Dr. David Livingston, Roald Amundsen, Robert Frost, Magellan, Marco Polo..and on and on.


Most of these explorers and adventurers had a purpose, goals and either discovered or created something of use to the human race. Tell me what use or purpose Robic's extreme sport/biking had other than to stroke his own self indulgence and ego?

"Do you seriously believe any of the people who push themselves to the extremes expect you to be sorry? expect your sympathy?"

No, but they sure expect my tax money to be used to rescue them and expect other people to put themselves in jeapordy to save them when their selfish, indulgent whims get them in trouble.

Exploration, invention, artistic edeavors are all fine and good. The human race would be nowhere without them. Stupid sports such as extreme biking are a useless waste. Even climbing mountains is pointless once it has been done a few times for exploration. You found the top. Yay, goodie for you. After that it is just ego stroking.

I have no sympathy for dopes who put themselves and others in danger for NO good reason. He died a stupid and useless death.

Oligonicella said...

Ankur --

"Christopher Columbus,Edmund Hillary,Tenzing Norgay,Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin,Dr. David Livingston, Roald Amundsen, Robert Frost, Magellan, Marco Polo."

You're comparing those to a bicycle rider and you say DBQ is egregious.

wv: sanies - what he wasn't.

Ankur said...

His motivations aren't my concern. I don't claim to know them, just as I don't claim to know Amundsen's or Columbus's motivation. They all might have been doing it for their own egos or for riches. We don't really know and to claim otherwise is silly.

As for his death - sure its stupid. Just like it has come to light now that Mallory's death on the everest was because of a stupid/bad decision.

But a stupid death doesn't make the life preceding it a stupid one, or one deserving of armchair derision.

Some people want to explore the boundaries of space, some want to explore the boundaries of the soul, some want to explore the boundaries of their influence - and some people simply want to explore the boundaries of the human body. You and I don't know yet what learnings can arise from his life.

Ankur said...

"a bicycle rider" - how easy it is for people sitting at their computers to dismiss the achievements of others.

Again, I suppose the only achievements that matter are the ones sanctioned by your omniscience?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You and I don't know yet what learnings can arise from his life.

Here's one learning.

Don't ride a bike down hill on a curvy unpaved road at 50 miles per hour when you are exhausted and possibly hallucinating.

Here is another. Take things in moderation.

Explore away. Hold your breath until you turn blue. Do what you want. Don't demand that I have any sympathy or care when you do something stupid and get killed.

Michael said...

DBQ: "I have no sympathy for dopes who put themselves ...in danger for NO good reason."

I would agree with this, especially in relation to people who over eat, smoke, fail to exercise, do not routinely see physicians or drive while drunk.

I get as pissed off at the over eaters as you do at the show-off biker and like you I have no sympathy when they die of heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, diabetes, or any of the myriad other diseases that knock off the stupid and self absorbed.

Ankur said...

Again, why do you imagine that Robic even remotely cares about your sympathy?

and 'moderation'? That sounds like another word for mediocrity.

It's very telling that your instinctive response to an athlete dying in slovenia is "No", and "Mine! Taxes!"

Ankur said...

"Hey Janko Tabei! The everest has already been climbed! You moron!"

"Hey Bill Gates! IBM already makes computers! What the heck do YOU think you're doing? dolt".

Yup - you're right. Once something has been done, it is useless to do it again. Been there, done that. Is this what they call the malaise of postmodernism?

Sixty Grit said...

I used to ride a lot, have even ridden through the forest in the moonlight, it was good, but I don't recommend it if one wants to live.

The RAA is less a race than a sleep deprivation contest.

I used to date a randonneur - she could ride hundreds of miles at a stretch. Wasn't bad on her bike, either.

traditionalguy said...

I cannot believe anyone ever stiffed Ann Althouse for her tip...unless she corrected their orders and rearranged the plates better as they ate.

traditionalguy said...

This dude was a world class endurance hero. May he rest in peace.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I get as pissed off at the over eaters as you do at the show-off biker and like you I have no sympathy when they die of heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, diabetes, or any of the myriad other diseases that knock off the stupid and self absorbed.

Agreed. 100%

Especially now that WE have to pay for their health care by Obama's system in mandating that insurers cover everyone despite their self infliced ill health.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Hey Janko Tabei! The everest has already been climbed! You moron!"

Yes it has already been climbed. Is there a purpose to doing it again and again other than to say you did it?

"Hey Bill Gates! IBM already makes computers! What the heck do YOU think you're doing? dolt".

Gee. I don't think that very many people have been killed in creating new inovations in computers. You certainly aren't trying to compare inventing something new or improving on a product with riding a bike until you die or climbing the same mountain for no purpose?

JAL said...

Is here a "He died doing what he loved" comment in here?

I hope not.

How about he died of obsession. Or while possessed.

Carol said...

What I have been wondering is, why don't all these Xtreme sports junkies, marathon manics, fitness freaks and adventure racers do something USEFUL with all that energy and health - like go find bin Laden?

Michael said...

Carol: Bin Laden is, and has been, dead for quite a while. Ever seen anyone decide to go from television personality to radio? Me neither. OBL used to be on video all the time. As much as Obama, or almost. Then, poof, he went to radio. Taped stuff. He's gone.

I have known a few ultra runners and most of them did useful stuff. Two were doctors, one was a builder, one was a teacher.

invancouver said...

I'd like to know how often he had to change his tires

Skeptical said...

I'm thinking that DBQ has no clue what it is like to be really great at something, and to absorb the punishment that it takes to be even greater.

This guy Robic is the sort of person that makes the human race impressive.

Allez, brother.

Jim said...

One of the Netherlands' greatest modern writers, Tim Krabbe, wrote a book about a long road race called "The Rider." It is almost entirely about the interior monologue, and the little things that happen second by second in a race - with passing allusions to the months of hard training and privation that preceded it and preconditioned his success. A whole lot goes into turning the pedals well. Two hundred pages to describe 3 hours of bike riding. At the start, he rolls into town to begin the race and says "Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me."

Robic would have felt pretty much the same way about the people who think that hard competition of the sort he undertook, is foolish and stupid. He enjoyed a fullness of life that a lot of people evidently don't enjoy, by indulging his competitive instincts. The only difference between Robic and a NASCAR racer is the choice of vehicle; it's still racin'. Why race? The same reason you'd box, or become a surgeon in a challenging medical discipline, a top symphony conductor, or go to law school and try to become the world's greatest appellate lawyer. Life simply tastes sweeter when it's fully lived, and it demands a fuller commitment (and maybe an extreme and not quite balanced attitude) to achieve greatness, to really live. You appreciate more if you've taken some risks, worked beyond the point of exhaustion, or had to fight for your life.

Robic died because he was out on a road on his bike fully living. A lot of people who don't have at least an intuitive grasp of what drives competitive people probably died a long time ago, it's just that their bodies don't know it. Non-racers. The emptiness of their lives shocks me.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

The same reason you'd box, or become a surgeon in a challenging medical discipline, a top symphony conductor, or go to law school and try to become the world's greatest appellate lawyer

These things are not the same and have no similarities.

By your standards the people who shove needles through their cheeks, swords through their tongues, beat themselves bloody with chains are some sort of examples of why the human race is exeptional.

I think it is representative of insanity.

The idea of watching someone beat themselves up or in the case of boxers get beaten up for absolutely no good reason is mentally ill.

If you want to push yourself to extremes, commit suicide by bike and exhalt those who do so, it is your world view.

Don't get me wrong I have nothing against violence or physical mayhem (when necessary...war is often necessary). I have nothing at all against pushing the limits of endurance (when necessary and NOT to the DEATH). I've been known to do both. I think it is like hunting. Killing some deer or some geese to eat is a good thing. Even doing it so you can have killed THE deer that year with a good rack for a trophy or the largest Elk is normal. Slaughtering 20 deer or a hundred geese to show you can do it is sick and preverted.

Driving a NASCAR vehicle at 150 miles into a wall is risk that they take and when they die is is a useless death. It is a risk that they take but it doesn't elevate Dale Earnhardt to sainthood or this bike rider guy either.

I note that the most vociferous defenders of these ideas of over the top "useless" sports that kill the participants are men.

Perhaps it is a gender thingy.