Jure Robic, world’s toughest, craziest athlete, dies

Simon Usborne
JureRobic 201x299 Jure Robic, worlds toughest, craziest athlete, dies

Jure Robic after winning the 2007 Ride Across America

Sad news over the weekend of the death of an insane man you probably haven’t heard of but who was, by many accounts, the world’s greatest endurance athlete.

Jure Robic was a Slovenian soldier turned long distance cyclist. In 2004, during the Ride Across America, a notorious, 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast race Robic won a record five times, the 45-year-old pedalled into the Guinness book by covering 518 miles in 24 hours. He slept for a total of eight hours as he cycled 350 miles a day to complete the race in  just eight days.

Robic trained almost every day, cycling far enough each year to circumnavigate the globe, and it was on his bike that he died when he was struck by a car near his home last Friday. He’ll be buried tomorrow.

I first learned about Robic, who was famous for riding for 40 hours or more before even taking his first break, when I stumbled upon a fascinating interview the New York Times ran in 2006. It seeks to get beneath the rider’s skin to discover how and why a man pushes through pain barriers hardly anyone even reaches – and how it drives him mad.

Robic also features heavily in Bicycle Dreams, a remarkable film that follows several competitors in the Ride Across America, considered to be the world’s toughest sporting event (watch the trailer here). Robic didn’t die rich or famous but his place as a legend of the sport is assured.

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  • Shanny Hill

    thanks for the article Simon. It is truly sad. It is even more tragic when I heard that his brother had died just last month. Certainly a difficult year for the family. I wrote about this yesterday on my blog –

  • Mark Raymond Jones

    Shame on you, Simon Usborne, for describing this amazing and gifted athlete as “crazy” and “insane.” He was dedicated to a sport that demonstrate the power of the human spirit and the victory of will over obstacles. There is nothing out-of-mind or odd about these qualities Jure possessed. That very few others even think about attempting something on a smaller scale than the feats he accomplished should not be used as detractors from who he was or what he accomplished.

  • Simon Usborne

    semantics, mark. I’d have thought my posting at all and the general sense of my post make my feelings about robic clear enough. Read the NYT piece I linked to. He was crazy. No bad thing.

  • S

    As a crew member for Rob Kish I had the luxury of witnessing Jure, Rob and all the other racers perform from the middle of the action. Literally an eight day front row seat of races that crossed America, followed the Tour de France route non-stop and circumnavigated Slovenia. All of them, not just Jure, are a little bit crazy, a little bit insane and whole lot of tough! What they do is not as much physical, but a whole lot of mental fortitude. As Rob says about pain — ” Ignore it… it will go away”.

  • crv gps 8 inch

    There is nothing out-of-mind or odd about these qualities Jure possessed.

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