Dennis Bock . . . Believe Him or Not

A few headlines you will never see in a newspaper:

“Man Runs Mile In Nine Seconds.” “Horace Jones Ignores Frigid Weather, Climbs Mt. Everest in Bikini Briefs.” “Accountant Swims From Cape Cod To Australia--And Back.”

These are impossible tasks, of course, unless you’re one to believe check-out stand whoppers like “Alien With Two Brains Claims To Be Father Of Pia Zadora’s Baby.”

Of course, there is only so far a man can bend without breaking, only so fast he can sprint without splitting, only so long he can run without dropping.


Yet, we ceaselessly push ourselves toward the edge. So at what point do we say enough’s enough?

Well, you might want to start here.

There’s a guy in Costa Mesa who’s looking to run his way onto the front page of the National Enquirer.

And though he has put out a pretty slick-looking press packet to hustle the idea, Dennis E. Bock, a.k.a. Professional Cyclist, swears this is no publicity hoax.


Bock is a 38-year-old engineer who is head-deep into the ultra-endurance marathon experience.

And in case you’re just not with it, these days you’re almost a sissy if you can’t do anything better than the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

So Bock, for lack of something better to do, is going to do this:

On July 6, he will board his bicycle in Huntington Beach and compete in the Race Across America, a 3,120-mile race across, well, America.


That would be enough to knock the pep out of most guys. But not our man Bock.

After the 11-day bike race, he will stay back east, take a shower and a short nap and then head to New York to compete in the 28.5-mile New York Manhattan Island Swim on July 20. A tough swim, for sure, but what makes the race interesting is sloshing through the slime and the trail of dead rats that often line the waterway (Note: a shot of penicillin is recommended).

But that’s not all you get in this marathon package.

After the swim, Bock says he’ll head west and rest up for the 146-mile, Death Valley to Mt. Whitney Run on Aug. 2.


Presumably, if he is still with us, Bock will then take a breather.

Of course, inquiring minds want to know why, why, why?

“Nobody’s ever done it,” Bock says.

Has anyone ever wanted to?


“I want to set a record,” he says. “It’ll go in a book. Some book.”

So for the last six months, Bock has been training hard. Let it be known that he is no amateur at this sort of thing. He has been doing triathlons since 1979 and has completed 36 of them in the last four years.

But Bock’s latest stunt is worthy of the likes of “That’s Incredible.”

Just how can he do it, Cathy Lee?


“It’s all up here,” Bock said, pointing to his brain. “If you start saying you’re not going to make it,” you won’t.”

Bock takes pride in his mind control, a by-product of his days in the Navy. Bock, for 12 years, worked in submarine sonar technology and spent as many as 120 days at a time submerged. There he learned a mental toughness that has carried over into his training.

“If you sat in the submarine and thought about your friends, you’d go crazy,” he said. “You had to keep it out of your mind.”

Bock also was taught that a submarine is no place to build friendships. If fire or flood broke out on board, men were instructed to shut the nearest latch, regardless of who might be trapped on the other side.


So Bock learned to be a loner, a great thing to be on those long, 3,120-mile bicycle rides. Last year, in the cross-country bike race, Bock was so tired he began hallucinating somewhere near Albuquerque (a common complaint among tourists). In the rain-stained windshield of a following car, he swore he saw the Mad Hatter Tea Party from “Alice in Wonderland.”

But he talked himself out it. Bock has talked himself out of a lot of things, such as the need for sleep. He goes to bed at 9:30 each evening, rises at 2:30 a.m., and begins the 36-mile bike ride to work in Pico Rivera. At lunch he swims a mile and runs six, and after peddling home from work he trains some more. And that’s cake compared to his weekends.

Bock has little time for reading, writing or television. Only training is important. He uses these scientific gizmos (Electro Accuscopes) that electrically stimulate his muscles during a race. He has a helmet that can zap his brain into the instant state of Alpha, the deepest stage of sleep (15 minutes of sleep can feel like six hours).

He likens himself to a human guinea pig, a running heap of wires and electrodes.


Just how far can he go?

“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Bock says.

Gee, maybe he can make it? If he does, I want to write the headline.