Dan Bilzerian is famous for living a cartoonish teenage dream of a life. There are naked women by the bushel, non-stop parties, enough guns to take over a small country, and money — stacks on stacks of money. Bilzerian, who calls himself a venture capitalist, is known for playing high-stakes poker and making big-ticket bets. He boasts, for example, that he once lost $2.3 million on a coin toss. You might also know him for throwing porn actress Janice Griffith off the roof of a house for a Hustler magazine photoshoot. She was supposed to land in the pool, but hit the deck instead.
Bilzerian's latest stunt is a 300-mile bike ride from Las Vegas to his home in the Hollywood Hills. Of course, there's money involved. But unlike most celebrity rides, the pot is going to someone's bank account, not a charity. Bilzerian and hedge-fund manager Bill Perkins each put down $600,000 on the ride. Bilzerian also bet his G4 and $250,000 with Rick Salomon (famous for starring in Paris Hilton's sex tape), a regular at high-stakes poker tables. The bet required Bilzerian to do the ride by March 31, and finish the 300-mile distance in 48 hours.
Known for his hard-partying lifestyle, Bilzerian is not exactly the image of a cyclist. After a four-day blowout in Vegas in 2005, for example, Bilzerian suffered a heart attack at the Bellagio. In classic Bilzerian style, he claims he tried to bribe his way to the front of the emergency room line after taking a cab to the hospital. Some reports suggest Bilzerian has since suffered two more heart attacks. But that's fine, the recreational cycling world is filled with middle-aged (and older) men looking to improve their heart health.
Before he began training, Bilzerian estimated he'd spent fewer than 20 hours on a bike in his life. During his preparation, Lance Armstrong reached out to offer help. In exchange for the disgraced Tour de France racer's expertise, Bilzerian agreed to donate $25,000 to one of Armstrong's cancer charities — good on him for that. Bilzerian's Instagram shows the two men out on a training ride. More typical of Bilzerian's training posts, however, is an image of him riding his bike on a stationary trainer, while a pair of models bask behind him.
Bilzerian's ride turned out to be anything but normal. Instead of taking off from Las Vegas on one of the many high-end carbon-fiber road bikes he bought for the journey, he sat down on a recumbent. As Perkins put it to the NY Post, "he was not riding the kind of bike that I thought would be correct for getting this done. The bike was what you'd see a grandpa riding on the boardwalk in Santa Monica."
Yes, the sometimes-stunt performer and playboy, a man that lives to exude masculinity, chose to ride the most widely mocked style of bike made, short of a tricycle. But to be fair, despite the reclined position, a solo 300-mile ride would still be a difficult ask of any cyclist — if they were actually doing all the work themselves. But instead of riding with the wind in his face, he spent the first 200 miles drafting behind the open doors of a van. The strategy virtually eliminated any wind resistance, so it's no surprise that the video clip above of him rolling down a highway shows him coasting.
Though reports from the road were spotty — you could get full coverage on his website for a $10 fee — by early Thursday morning, Twitter congratulations began rolling in for Bilzerian. Perkins attributed Bilzerian's likely success to "a few drugs and adrenaline." Several high-stakes poker players had placed side bets on Bilzerian's ride, and early Thursday morning, Brian Rast was among those celebrating that Bilzerian had "earned me a little something."
It looks like Bilzerian will get to keep his jet. He'll also take home nearly a million for his 48 hours of pedaling. That's not a bad haul, though apparently Rick Soloman is keeping his checkbook closed over the drafting. And if Bilzerian is serious about cycling now, let us offer some suggestions about that next bike.