"Michael Hurley" Conspiracy Theories?

The current leader of the Capital Bikeshare Winter Weather Warrior contest is named Michael Hurley and TBD did (a sort of) story of him, or at least his prolificness. He's taken almost 130 trips than his closest rival (as of February 6.) I don't mean to impugn Mr. Hurley (I'm doing the same thing as the WSJ, where I say the whole name than use Mr. thereafter. Its use in this story made me laugh) and the serious amount of biking he does, but there has to be at least some strategy in play here, right? Let's review the rules: 

Rule 1:  Must be an annual or monthly Capital Bikeshare member in good standing.
Rule 2:  Participants must opt in to the contest in order to be eligible for prizes.  Contestants can opt in at anytime during the contest, but keep in mind that your standings will be calculated from your opt-in date.
Rule 3: Trips of less than five minutes do not count.
Rule 4: Any trip on a bad weather day counts as double.  Since weather conditions and reports vary, determination of which are bad weather days ultimately falls with Capital Bikeshare staff. Bad weather days are defined as the following:

  • any day with a high temperature below freezing
  • any day with frozen precipitation
  • any day with rain and a high below 50 degrees
Note: In case of severe weather, Capital Bikeshare may close down service temporarily until conditions improve. Any day that includes a Capital Bikeshare closure is not counted in the "perfect attendance" category. Any ride taken on a day affected by closure when the system is still open DOES count towards the overall Winter Weather Warrior, Long Haul Rider and Saddle Time contests.
Rule 5:  Participants must play fair.  We’ll be able to tell if you are “gaming” the system.  Unfair players will be immediately disqualified. Gaming the system includes the following:

  • Dummy trips - undocking a bike, standing still and then redocking with no purpose other than just recording a trip.
  • Key sharing - recruiting friends to use your key and make trips.
Rule 6:  By opting in to the contest, participants are agreeing to have their name released on the contest leader board and in promotional messages.
Rule 7: The “Long Haul Rider” competition will be calculated by the distance between stations, not distance ridden.
Rule 8:  Have fun.  This contest is designed to encourage more usage of Capital Bikeshare and reward those that use it often.  It is meant to be fun, so please play nicely.

First off, let's assume that "Michael Hurley" is just one guy named Michael Hurley and not a group of people using the same key. If that were true, it would be a "say it ain't so, michael hurley" moment and Bikeshare would forever lose its innocence. Let's also discount rule 8- there's no room to both have fun and bicycle. It's scientifically proven
In order to maximize your trips, the trick seems to be taken as many just barely 5 minute long trips as possible and as many of these trips on bad weather days as possible. CaBi makes sure that you can't just stand with a bike for 5 minutes and re-dock, so it's clear that he's actually moving from station to station. I surmise that Hurley is, unlike most CaBi users, docking multiple times between his two destinations (home and work, or wherever) rather than just biking straight through. He averages, according to the story, around 13 trips a day. If we assume that he just goes from home to work and back (though I think he might also do an evening trip or one at lunch time), he'd have to have 6 or 7 dockings on the way for an overall 30 to 40 minute commute. (This doesn't even include any bonuses he gets from bad weather days- I don't know how many there have been and I'm loath to check old weather reports to hazard a guess).  Is this the most direct way to get anywhere? Nope. But, based on the relatively density of downtown stations (which are close, but not too close), I could easily see this happening. Here's a crazy (but not too crazy) route that he could take from Dupont Circle to 10th and Constitution: 

Sample Route
This route does require a little meandering (and might even require some wrong ways down one ways, so sorry), but with stop lights and traffic, I think you could probably take 5 minutes between each stop. Or, Michael Hurley could do 3 or 4 rides in Crystal City, get on the Metro and then do another 3 or 4 in the District. In any case, it's not hard to imagine how to use opportunistic docking in an area relatively dense with stations to build up a substantial number of trips, even when all you're doing is going back and forth to work. The rules don't say that something like this is "gaming" the system, so as far as I can tell, it's all inbounds and totally legal. 
So, to all aspiring Michael Hurleys out there, here's how you can do it. If you want to take an extra hour coming home from work, or maybe stay up all night, fearlessly and manically riding CaBis from downtown station to downtown station, wearing down the plastic on your bike key and alienating yourself from loved ones, you can follow these steps and catch up Michael Hurley and win a three year extension of your membership. You could even give one of the two other annual memberships to Michael Hurley, because if he's putting this much effort into this contest, he really deserves it. 

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