Safe to say I absolute hate riding on a trainer/rollers/stationary bike.
Putting mettle to pedal
Determined Aurora man rides again for stationary-bike record
- 11:32 PM CDT, May 8, 2008
After 64 consecutive hours on a stationary bicycle, this is what desire looks like: face grimacing and flushed red with sweat, fatigued arms slumped over handlebars, legs rhythmically pumping mile after imaginary mile.
For the last year and a half, a retired drug-enforcement officer from Aurora has been on a quest to get his name inked in the Guinness Book of World Records. Twice in 2007, George Hood set a world mark for consecutive hours riding a stationary bike, only to have a clerical error and a rival from Tasmania take the titles from him.
It takes a certain kind of superhuman strength and, yes, obsession to pursue an endurance record that only a handful of people around the world probably care anything about. But Hood doesn’t do anything halfway. And when he jokes about taking back the record, he doesn’t joke too long.
This week, the 50-year-old climbed into the saddle at a YMCA in Naperville for his third and what he said is his final attempt for the obscure record. By Thursday night, he had ridden for close to 90 straight hours, 42 shy of the record. That is the equivalent of about 1,000 road miles or nearly a third of the way across the U.S.
If all goes well, Hood will break the record sometime Saturday night. But this time he wants the record to stick, so he is planning on pedal- ing another 20 hours, taking his painful and exhaustive personal journey into Sunday.
“This is a genuine human effort being done for all the right reasons,” Hood said. “This is the final chapter of this trilogy.”
Guinness rules allow riders to rest for five minutes for every hour in the saddle, time riders typically use to stretch, go to the bathroom and sleep. But riders don’t have to stop each hour and are able to stockpile five-minute breaks for longer periods of rest. When Hood began riding at 9 p.m. Sunday, he rode 15 hours in a row without a break, maintaining a minimum speed of around 12 m.p.h.
His bike is perched on a small stage at the top of a converted aerobics studio. The YMCA has put a second stationary bike beside him and scattered others around the studio so people can help keep him motivated by taking a spin for an hour or two. Rock music blares from the room’s speakers, and a limp towel hangs over the sweat-soaked handlebars.
Team of helpers
Hood rides alone, but this is far from a solitary effort. A team of volunteers monitors his time and makes sure he stays alert. Every four hours or so, paramedics stop by the gym to check on his condition. And when it is time for a break, volunteers gingerly lift Hood off the bike and carry him down a wooden ramp built near the stage.
Bathroom stops are brief because Hood is on a mostly liquid diet. Volunteers then help him to a fold-out table near the bike where he stretches his strained muscles. Sleep comes the instant Hood closes his eyes but never lasts more than 10 or 12 minutes at a time.
The record may be the ultimate test of physical and psychological endurance. But the divorced father of three hopes it also inspires others to take on challenges that seem out of their reach. In that way, the record is as much about others as it is about him, Hood said. Previous attempts raised more than $60,000 for various charities, and this week he has brought in about $16,000 for underprivileged families to participate in YMCA programs.
“There’s so much negativity in the world today, so much stuff on the news that you want to shy away from,” Hood said from atop the bike. “I’m awed by the number of people who’ve stopped by, just to peek in the doorway, to see how I’m doing it. I think that really speaks to people wanting to see something good in the world.”
‘High and extreme goals’
Hood grew up in eastern Pennsylvania and joined the Marine Corps after college. The eldest of four children, Hood said he always was obsessive about discipline and high achievement, traits that served him well in law enforcement and, he acknowledges, partly explains his pursuit of this record.
“There’s a lot of psychological things here that could be looked at,” said longtime friend Kathy Lewandowski. “He’s a goal-setter and he sets really, really high and extreme goals.”
In 1986, at age 28, Hood set a Guinness record by skipping rope for 13 consecutive hours, a mark that stood less than a month. Motivated once more to stamp his name in the record book, Hood rode 91 straight hours on a stationary bike in January 2007, breaking the mark held by a Danish man. But a bookkeeping error kept the time from being certified.
Six months later, Hood officially set the record at 111 hours, 11 minutes and 11 seconds, only to have a Tasmanian rider named Eddy Kontelj best him with a mark of 132 hours a couple of weeks later.
By Thursday morning, exhaustion and a strained left knee threatened to derail Hood. That is when he grabbed a microphone and implored onlookers to jump on bikes and help him power through it. He cranked the rock music on the stereo and began to bop his head up and down. He chanted, then stood up off the seat and pumped his legs harder. He had slept a combined three hours and 57 minutes since Sunday night and burned an estimated 23,000 calories.
“If you don’t witness something like this, you couldn’t imagine it could be done,” said Marvin Paysen, Hood’s friend and training partner.
As he sailed past the 80-hour mark, Hood grabbed the microphone again.
“This is more than just an event,” he yelled, “it’s an experience you’ll remember the rest of your lives. And I’m loving it!”
Here’s the original article. Click on the pic above to go to his web page.
He’s expected to finish at 9am on Sunday, 11 May. Good on him!