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Six hours and 15 minutes into what would be a 45-hour stationary bike ride, Robert “Rob” Sturm was chipper and talkative as he simultaneously pedaled and watched a bad action movie to stay alert. The 33-year-old, San Francisco-based Littler Mendelson partner — determined to break the Guinness World Records for endurance and distance on a stationary bike — was full of energy and worried mostly about the effects of sleep deprivation deeper into the ride. “I’m stubborn enough to suffer through the pain,” he said as his legs moved nonstop on the afternoon of May 26. “But I don’t know how I’ll deal with being awake 45 hours.” As it turned out, Sturm should have been more concerned about the pain. The next afternoon, 30 hours into the attempt — with his knees burning and his rear end aching — Sturm just about threw in the towel. But friends who had gathered in support urged him on. Sturm said that if any of his friends had supported his desire to quit, he “probably would have hopped off right there. But everybody kept telling me to keep going and get to a rest stop where I could think rationally.” Sturm followed their advice and at 3:31 a.m. on Memorial Day, he passed the old endurance record of 42 hours and 15 minutes, as well as the distance record of 938 kilometers. By the time he quit at 6:15 a.m. that same day, he had pedaled 45 hours and ridden 941 kilometers. And in the process he raised big bucks for the Special Olympics, which is the beneficiary of a nationwide fund-raising effort by 24 Hour Fitness health clubs. As of last Thursday, Sturm’s tally was $3,500 and growing as friends and family made good on pledges for his ride. Sturm accomplished his feat — videotaped for Guinness — at the 24 Hour Fitness on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, where he has been teaching spinning, which is group cycling on stationary bikes to music. In keeping with Guinness requirements, he got only a 15-minute break every eight hours during the ordeal, and he used it to shower, change clothes, change bikes and answer Mother Nature’s calls. He would have eaten then, too, but unexpectedly lost his appetite and ended up eating only one Power Bar, a banana and a slice of bread during the ride. He essentially lived on Gatorade he had in a water bottle attached to his handlebars. “When I finished, I took a four-hour nap and when I woke up I was absolutely ravenous,” Sturm said Thursday. “I went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and inhaled as much food as I could.” Sturm lost nine pounds during the ride, dropping him to 153 pounds. That makes 42 pounds he’s lost this year while biking. He had lost 33 pounds earlier while training for a 200-mile bike race in Davis, Calif., but he ended up abandoning that ride for the Guinness event. “I had no delusions I’d be able to do both,” Sturm says. He also gave up on breaking the Guinness record for distance traveled on a stationary bike in 24 hours. According to Guinness, that record was for 325 miles, but Sturm felt that if he had pushed himself for that record, he might have failed in getting the endurance record. “And that’s the one I wanted to beat,” he says. Sturm’s wife, Van, was at his side the entire time. Friends, co-workers and hordes of media types descended on him over the two days also. But his most famous visitor was San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. As it turns out, Guinness requires at least two people of some standing in the community to authenticate a record-breaking event. “He stayed a full 25 minutes,” Sturm says, “and he talked with people.” Sturm still needs to get his videotape and documentation off to Guinness in London, but he looks like a shoe-in to be awarded the record. Meanwhile, he spent last week healing and doctoring the blisters that developed on his backside, and he has no plans to try breaking any other Guinness records for the time being. “At this point,” he says, “I’m just nursing my knees back to health.”

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