During race, I am going crazy, definitely,’’ [Jure Robic] says, smiling in bemused despair. I cannot explain why is that, but it is true.’’ The craziness is methodical, however, and Robic and his crew know its pattern by heart. Around Day 2 of a typical weeklong race, his speech goes staccato. By Day 3, he is belligerent and sometimes paranoid. His short-term memory vanishes, and he weeps uncontrollably. The last days are marked by hallucinations: bears, wolves and aliens prowl the roadside; asphalt cracks rearrange themselves into coded messages. Occasionally, Robic leaps from his bike to square off with shadowy figures that turn out to be mailboxes. In a 2004 race, he turned to see himself pursued by a howling band of black-bearded men on horseback.
Mujahedeen, shooting at me,’’ he explains. So I ride faster.’’
The whole piece is worth a look.