Watch an Olympic Runner Race an Electric Bike on Foot

Olympian and pro runner Nick Symmonds loves to take on challenges. He’s tried to lift 1000 pounds. He’s run the Beer Mile. He’s gone toe-to-toe with a bodybuilder and shared how he got ripped. And he’s raced a Tesla, a scooter, and, somehow, a dolphin—though not at the same time. Suffice it to say, the man is up for testing himself.

So it was probably a matter of time before he asked whether he could outpace an electric bike. In his new video, Symmonds takes on a Rad Rover Six Plus fat-tire e-bike, which has a top speed of 20 miles per hour; Symmonds, you may recall, is a mid-distance runner who specialized in 800-meter and 1500-meter races. That sets up a very low-stakes, man versus machine, John Henry Irons-style challenge, and it’s off to the track.

As you might have guessed, Symmonds has the advantage when it comes to acceleration. He’s quick off the line and quickly hits his top speed, while the e-bike is still accelerating. For their first race, a 100-meter dash, that’s the difference: Symmonds crosses the line a second quicker—a pretty solid beat at that distance.

The human advantage pretty quickly evaporates as the e-bike reaches its top speed. In their next race, Symmonds holds onto the lead until about the 150-meter mark. Then he’s blown away, unable to keep up. One more triumph of machine over man.

All is not lost, though. Unlike Terminators, e-bikes are not (yet) sentient, and we don’t have to worry about their superior abilities rendering us completely obsolete. We can work with our e-bike overlords, as Symmonds does for his next race, taking the Rad Rover Six Plus for a spin around the track, clocking in with a three-minute mile that no human could hope to match.

Jesse Hicks is a Detroit-based writer and former features editor at The Verge who specializes in longform stories about science, health, and technology.

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