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American says he won't stress over prospect of Steve Abraham or Bruce Berkeley going further...

On Saturday, Kurt Searvogel finished what he set out to do exactly 12 months earlier, setting a new Year record which now stands at 76, 076 miles – bettering the record set by Great Britain’s Tommy Godwin in 1939 by 1,011 miles.

The American ultracyclist, aged 53, went beyond the 75,065 miles ridden by Godwin last Monday, celebrating with a few beers, but has been back on the bike in the days since to push the benchmark further.

Talking to Boston radio station WBUR after surpassing Godwin’s distance last week, he said: “A lot of my fans are like, ‘Ride, ride, ride! Make it really hard, make it impossible to break.

 “It’s like, ‘OK, whatever. When the weather’s nice, I’ll ride. When not, I’ll do something else. Like a sane person'.”

Searvogel set off on his ride on 10 January last year, a week after British rider Steve Abraham launched his own attempt on the record on New Year’s Day.

In March, however, Abraham was knocked from his bike by a moped rider and broke his ankle.

Although, after just 10 days’ recuperation, he tried to revive his record attempt initially by riding laps of the Milton Keynes Bowl riding a recumbent using only his uninjured leg, he fell more and more off the pace.

Once he regained full fitness in August, however, he started his assault on the record afresh, and at the turn of the year was ahead of Searvogel’s pace.

Meanwhile, at the start of this month, London-based bike mechanic Bruce Berkeley began his own attempt on the Year record, starting in Australia although he plans to head back to the UK later this year to carry on with it.

The new record holder isn’t stressed by the prospect of either of them beating his distance, however.

“Ahhh, not really,” he said. “If they do, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. I don’t worry about things I can’t control.”

Yesterday was the first day in a year that Searvogel – who took the briefest of breaks from riding to marry his one-woman crew, Alicia, in August – was able to wake up without having to worry about getting some serious miles in.

> Kurt Searvogel takes time out of Year attempt to get married

Looking ahead to that prospect, he told WBUR: “I don’t know that I’ll step away from the bike.

 “I’ll step away from riding big miles.

"Pretty much on the way home [to Arkansas], Alicia and I plan on stopping at spots we’ve liked. Camp on the beach. Ride bikes up and down the beach for a while. Eat some good food. Go to the next spot. But not ride to the next spot. Drive to the next spot.”

According to unofficial stats of his riding on the website of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (which shows a slightly higher total distance than the 76,076 he claims), Searvogel averaged 208.65 miles a day with an average speed of 8.69mph across the year and a moving annual speed of 18.2mph.

Some – mainly from the UK, it has to be said – have questioned whether Godwin and Searvogel’s records are truly comparable, pointing out differences in the bikes they used, the terrain, the weather, that Godwin was a vegeterian, and claiming that Searvogel sought whenever possible to ride with a tailwind.

Records set decades apart will always attract debate – is Sir Bradley Wiggins’ UCI Hour Record at sea level in London last year on a state-of-the-art time trial bike more or less valid than the one Eddy Merckx set at altitude in Mexico in 1972? – but it’s easy to overlook that Searvogel is twice the age Godwin was in 1939.

Dave Barter, author of the recently published book The Year Record, pointed out to WBUR that whichever way you look at it, riding that distance in a year – which no-one bar Searvogel has done since World War II – is a phenomenal achievement.

While researching his book, he even undertook a couple of 200-mile rides himself to get a feel for what it entailed.

 “Well, I’ve done it a couple of times, and it has destroyed me both times,” he said.

“It’s a very long day. You’re looking at 12 to 14 hours in the saddle continuously turning the pedals out there in the elements.”

It wasn’t something he wished to do again, let alone every day for a year.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

14 comments

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DaveE128 [952 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

And I gather from facebook that an attempt by Alicia on the women's record may be on the cards at some point too! I imagine this would involve switching jobs!

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mike the bike [980 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

Can that be right?  Someone actually thinks that because Godwin was a vegetarian his record should still stand.  I stand in awe of their mental processes.

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iUpham [177 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Congrats to guy, that is one epic achievement!

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Jem PT [150 posts] 1 year ago
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Over 200 miles a day. Every day. For a year.

Yes, I can imagine that might be a little challenging! indecision

 

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Eg3ftp1 [70 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

It's an amazing achievement, but Godwin's record was set in a calendar year. You can say the start date doesn't matter, but in that case he still doesn't beat Godwin, as in a period from May 16, 1939-May 14, 1940, while going on to set the fastest time to 100,000 miles, Godwin rode further than Searvogel in his 365 day period. I think that's a far more significant qualifier than the difference in bikes, terrain, weather and diet the article quotes.

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atlaz [255 posts] 1 year ago
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Do you have a breakdown of Godwin's mileage? 

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crazy-legs [941 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
atlaz wrote:

Do you have a breakdown of Godwin's mileage? 

There's a Twitter feed of it whihch tweets his mileage each day in the format "on this day TG rode [x] miles from [place] to [place]"

https://twitter.com/yearrecord

 

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Simon E [3154 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Incredible.

Chapeau.

Strange to think Steve Abraham, who originally started before Searvogel, is still plugging away while Bruce Berkeley has only just begun his effort.

Another person who has just started is Kajsa Tylen, who is attempting to beat the women's record of 29,603, set by  Billie Fleming in 1938.  http://www.ayearinthesaddle.com

Interestingly, there's a CW article about Kurt's ride. A commenter has pointed out that he broke neither (a) Godwin's calendar year record nor (b) Godwin's 365-day record of 76,800 miles, set between May 16, 1939 to May 14, 1940 (Godwin set another record of 100,000 miles in 500 days).

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3peaker [1 post] 1 year ago
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<p>Good point SimonE and the crux of the Record! Kurt has provided an "any 365 day year" figure which falls short. An absolutely superb achievement but......!&nbsp; I was absolutely gutted for Steve Abs after his 'Take out' fall in March and (as one of his 'AUK Crowd-Sponsors')&nbsp;sincerely hope he can succeed for a year after the (any 365/6 day year) restart. At least Steve&nbsp;was initially going for the 'Pure year'.</p>

<p>Perhaps, now,&nbsp;the 76,800 miles needs to be identified in the same breath to provide clarity.</p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>

<p>Stephen Poulton</p>

<p>(Three National Peaks by Bike Record Holder)(NB Totally unassisted during Bike phases, whereas others have accepted pacing)</p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>

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DaveE128 [952 posts] 1 year ago
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So someone rides 78078 miles in a year, beating the figure that has always been accepted as the record, and yet some people still want to pick holes! kiss

Congrats to Kurt and Alicia! A fantastic achievement!

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Danger Dicko [282 posts] 1 year ago
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Having read more and heard more from Searvogel I have more and more respect for him.

 

To get on a bike everyday for 365 days and ride on average more than 200 miles a day  is both an incredible physical and mental acheivement.

Chapeau Kurt.

Good luck also to Steve and Bruce in their attempts.

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tommysdaughter [1 post] 1 year ago
4 likes

Congratulations to Kurt on successfully completing his challange on Tommy Godwins 76 year old "Year Record."

The controvercy between the two attempts will no doubt be discussed for some time to come.

There can never be a true comparison between the two attempts how could you replicate WW2, poor roads, food rationing, the wortst winter in decades, a heavy bike and the "blackout"

But one thing I am very sure of, the first person to shake Kurts hand would have been Tommy Godwin, my hero, my father.

Barbara Ford Tommys daughter

 

 

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ianrobo [1213 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Tommysdaughter wrote:

Congratulations to Kurt on successfully completing his challange on Tommy Godwins 76 year old "Year Record."

The controvercy between the two attempts will no doubt be discussed for some time to come.

There can never be a true comparison between the two attempts how could you replicate WW2, poor roads, food rationing, the wortst winter in decades, a heavy bike and the "blackout"

But one thing I am very sure of, the first person to shake Kurts hand would have been Tommy Godwin, my hero, my father.

Barbara Ford Tommys daughter

 

 

Lovely comment and the records are what they are and to do that for 200 miles a day is amazing. 

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Paul__M [39 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Apparently around 1/3 Kurt's mileage was on a recumbent HR - smart to mix'em up.

Respect to both.