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Million mile man
September 17, 2005 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Freddie Hoffman is a geek. He's ridden one million miles on a bicycle, and he's still at it. More here (pdf).
posted by fixedgear (31 comments total)

 
Respect.
posted by cleardawn at 7:16 AM on September 17, 2005


I woud rather see him on a Wheaties box, too.
posted by oflinkey at 7:18 AM on September 17, 2005


:D
posted by drezdn at 7:21 AM on September 17, 2005


I've often wondered how many miles I've biked over my whole life. My current bike probably has over 50,000 miles on it at 4 or 5 years old. It might be less, it might be more, but it's somewhere in that magnitude. I've met cars of the same age with less mileage.

*flexes quads and shin muscles, wincing slightly due to soreness from a ride yesterday*

A million miles, though? Sheesh. I used to do 500+ a week for almost a whole year. But not 200 a day, every day, for a month or year straight. Respect.
posted by loquacious at 7:23 AM on September 17, 2005


800 miles a week, every week, for 30 years?

Unlikely. To be kind.

And if he did, he wouldn't look like a middle age slob, he'd make Lance Armstrong look flabby by comparison.

He's estimated his mileage going back to age 5, when his riding consisted of 1/2-mile laps around the block on a tricycle, sometimes adding up to 15 miles in a day

Bullshit. Anyone who believes a 5 year old is doing 15mi a day on a tricycle deserves to believe anything.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:34 AM on September 17, 2005


Way to kill the feel-good, ynoxas.

Ass.
posted by jmgorman at 7:53 AM on September 17, 2005


Dont feed the troll.
posted by stbalbach at 8:12 AM on September 17, 2005


I remember this article from back when I used to read BuyCycling Magazine. This guy is a fanatic.

[Oh, and Ynoxas ignorantly claims to know about bicycle exercise but doesn't ride, except a stinky cycle]
posted by caddis at 8:43 AM on September 17, 2005


I WANT TO BELIEVE!
posted by drezdn at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2005


I'd be proud to be a Fred.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:23 AM on September 17, 2005


Astounding...it would be even more so with a little less chest-beating from Freddie Hoffman. And true, he really does not have the body of an endurance cyclist.
posted by philmas at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2005


I'd be proud to be a Fred.

Fred.
posted by fixedgear at 9:50 AM on September 17, 2005


does not have the body of an endurance cyclist.

From the sounds of his bike and routine he is the Olympic weight lifter of the cycling world.
posted by stbalbach at 10:13 AM on September 17, 2005


He strikes me as being partly autistic and partly strung out on that euphoria that runners get after a bunch of miles. Honeslly, I have no idea what would motivate a person to ride that many miles year in and year out -- so I'm groping for theories.
posted by bicyclingfool at 2:02 PM on September 17, 2005


It's astounding. On an ergometer test he took in his mid-20's, Hoffman endured a staggering 33 minutes--top racers of the era such as Davis Phinney and three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond typically held out for around 20 minutes."


I suppose the author of the article could have glanced at his odometer briefly. Still, really impressive. I'll never be that dedicated to a single thing my entire life, other than avoiding hard work.
posted by craniac at 2:47 PM on September 17, 2005


I worked in bike shops for years and years, and still bike a lot. Many good friends of mine biked constantly, raced, even, and still had guts. The reason? Well, for some, it was was probably genetics. For others, the gut remained because they just drank a lot of beer and ate whatever the hell they wanted. Biking makes you hungry!

Tell you what... If I won the lotto or some shit, I would do what this guy does. Bike all the time.
posted by smithnine at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2005


Mefi is usually one of the more skeptical communities around. But, since this is BIKE POWER!!! I guess everyone can suspend their disbelief for a while.

Seriously. 15 miles a day on a tricycle at 5 years old?

Come on.
posted by Ynoxas at 4:06 PM on September 17, 2005


Yeah, once you do the math, it's bullshit.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:28 PM on September 17, 2005


ynoxas, the guy wasn't right in the head. Don't think of it as 15 miles, think of it as 30 laps. I can see kid who is regressing into himself to avoid his reality doing that. Hell, I was doing 4 or more miles at that age and didn't have those kind of issues.
posted by jmgorman at 4:30 PM on September 17, 2005


Seriously. 15 miles a day on a tricycle at 5 years old?

Seriously. He's a savant, or has some kind of OCD or is autistic or something. So he retreats into his little world where he just pedals. Even if he rides at three mph - walking pace - it takes him five hours. What else does a five year old with developmental issues have to do? Think Rain Man here, folks.

SweetJesus, let's do the math. In 2001 he was at 1.2 million, so at his pace lately he's probably up to 1.36 or something by now. Say 40K per year. Throw out his tricycle miles and allow for error and he's still gone over a million any way you slice it.
posted by fixedgear at 4:47 PM on September 17, 2005


From the PDF:
The first year, he pedaled to Wyoming and back. One year he rode 506,900 miles.

That would put him at an average of over 1300 miles per day for the year, or a speed of 57mph if he never slept. I believe the world record in 24 hours is around 530 miles. Needless to say, the claim is not true.
posted by recursive at 6:33 PM on September 17, 2005


Do the math fixedgear, it's possible, but it's highly unlikely. 1.3 million / 30 years = 43,333 miles per year. 43,333 / 365 = 118 miles a day, every day for thirty years.

And, according to him, that math wouldn't even be correct. As recursive pointed out, to bike 506,900 miles in a year he would have to bike 1300 miles a day at 57 miles per hour.
posted by SweetJesus at 6:45 PM on September 17, 2005


It's not that unlikely. A hundred or more miles a day is beyond reach for a at couch potato but for someone who rides it every day, it does not have to be all that taxing. The key is how fast do you go. Riding slowly is about as taxing as walking if you are fit, but you cover more ground. This guy builds his miles on consistency. He's not that slow though, according to the article he's riding 20 mph. Get your fat ass out on a bike and try that for 20 miles Mr. Couch Potato. See you in the ICU. Do it every day for decades and the story changes.
posted by caddis at 7:13 PM on September 17, 2005


He sure doesn't look the part. 18 mph crusing speed is hardly world class, but if that is his average speed, he should be looking a bit more buff.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:25 PM on September 17, 2005


The (non-pdf) article claims 506,900 miles in a *decade*, not a year. Which makes a still effin' impressive 130 miles a day, but it's not physically impossible.

Well, it probably would be for me, but I'm lazy.
posted by arto at 8:32 PM on September 17, 2005


130 miles a day is not only possible, for a rain man obsessive compulsive disorder gentleman from New Jersey with nothing else to do but ride bikes, it seems highly probable.
posted by stbalbach at 9:22 PM on September 17, 2005


Can I move my "I Want to Believe," to this point in the thread.

Also, what's the deal with anti-Bicycling magazine sentiment, it's hinted at above, and I've seen it mentioned on bikeforums but with no explanation. Is it to Noobish? Is it to friendly towards its advertisers?
posted by drezdn at 10:31 PM on September 17, 2005


Do those of you who believe this think the quality of the equipment makes any difference? It sounds like he is riding very heavy and inefficient equipment. Kind of like saying you raced the Baja 1000 in a '87 Tercel.

What if he was riding a top-of-the-line, truly "professional" bike? How much do you think he could ride then? 600 miles a day? 700? More? Could he be at 2 million by now?

(In other words, does equipment make much of a difference in DISTANCE biking?)

Also, it is not the doing 130 miles in "a" day that is so hard to believe, it is doing it day, after day after day after day, for a decade. Surely in New Jersey there are days that you simply cannot ride due to the weather. So, each snow day put another 130 to be made up somewhere.

Day after day after day. For 3,650 days in a row. Doesn't sound reasonable. *shrug*

If he really is this mentally deficient, is there no chance his recollections or mileage calculations could be off? Could he ride 20 miles in a different direction and believe he did 120 because he got there via a different path?

Too many questions, and no answers except "he's special, so he could do it".

If that makes me an ass, then so be it.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:18 PM on September 17, 2005


From the PDF:
The first year, he pedaled to Wyoming and back. One year he rode 506,900 miles.

That would put him at an average of over 1300 miles per day for the year, or a speed of 57mph if he never slept. I believe the world record in 24 hours is around 530 miles. Needless to say, the claim is not true.


The pdf is not that well written and should have been proofread. The 506,900 has a misplaced decimal point, making it 50,690. So 130 (avg) miles per day at 18 mph is a little over seven hours per day. He doesn't post to MetaFilter or play X-Box or go to Starbucks or watch Survivor, he rides bikes, sleeps, eats and works a few hours a day at the church.
posted by fixedgear at 3:20 AM on September 18, 2005


Um, I don't think he's quite at the "rain man" level of autismm kind folks. He seems reasonably smart. But in America I know being a standard deviation or two from the mean marks you for abuse.
posted by snoktruix at 10:44 PM on September 18, 2005


what's the deal with anti-Bicycling magazine sentiment

I can't speak for any one else, but for me... The writing style sometimes tends to the juvenile and article content tends to be shallow. It has a strong emphasis on racing, fitness and body image, ignoring, or only ocassionally paying lip-service to, the wider culture of cycling for transport and pleasure amongst every-day folk (despite how it bills itself). In articles and reviews it always emphasises whatever are the latest and greatest shiny bits from Shimano, Campagnolo, et al, giving the impression you have to own them to be a 'real' cyclist, whilst perpetuating technical myths of sometimes dubious engineering merit. And yes, one gets the strong impression it panders to its advertisers - you won't read a critical review of a Shimano component in it.

is there no chance his recollections or mileage calculations could be off?

The accuracy of his calculated mileage is very suspicious, in my opinion. There's no doubt he's ridden a huge distance, quite possibly more than anyone else ever, but I'm suspicious of specific numbers. After all, there's no way to check and we only have his word for his own record-keeping diligence. Not that the accuracy really matters that much, but the press likes numbers and absolutes, and so does he, it seems, so that makes the story.

In other words, does equipment make much of a difference in DISTANCE biking?

Yes, a huge difference, but in very different ways than, say, in professional racing. In distance biking, comfort and reliability are much more important. Long-distance cyclists are generally unsupported - there's no team mechanic to jump into action with a spare when that super-lightweight part fails. People who like to ride long distances tend to use tried and tested equipment with a reputation for reliability being more important than shaving a few grams. They also tend to employ a more upright position. A long road-race might last 4-6 hours, but a 200-400 Km event might have one on the bike for 12 hrs without much break. Distance cycling is more about efficiency than pure speed and power. Steel touring frames with relaxed angles, steel-spoked wheels and leather saddles remain popular with many non-racing long-distance cyclists because they consider the reliability and comfort advantages override a slight weight increase.

If you really want to get long-distance cycling nerds excited, start a conversation about lighting systems.
posted by normy at 11:58 PM on September 18, 2005


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