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RAAM record holder will include cross-country race in schedule

Briton Steve Abraham isn't the only rider taking a crack at Tommy Godwin's 75-year-old Year Record in 2015. On January 10, American ultramarathon racer Kurt Searvogel will set out from his base in Arkansas and attempt to ride more than 75,065 miles in the following 12 months.

Abraham came out swinging yesterday with a 222.7-mile ride, landing a couple of Strava 2015 KOMS on the way. That's a bit less than the first day of Tommy Godwin's 1939 record ride, but still well ahead of the 207 miles per day he'll need to average to beat the record.

Searvogel plans to get off to a more modest start in what the Americans are calling the Highest Annual Milage Record (HAMR), then ramp up his speed and milage as his fitness improves over the year.

On his blog Searvogel writes: "I do have a plan and it’s based on going incrementally farther and faster as the year progresses and I have more daylight to ride. My plan calls for riding long six days a week and doing a century ride on the 7th day as a rest and recovery day."

Abraham was in the saddle for 16 hours yesterday, and set out at 5am this morning. Searvogel's schedule calls for a first ride of 10 hours, 170 miles. That 17 mph average is typical of Searvogel's strategy; he plans to build to a 20 mph average by June.

He writes: "I plan to increase my time on the bike to 14-15 hours during the summer and then taper it back down to about 10 hours a day by the end of 2015.

"My speed goal for riding is to start out riding my long days at about 17 mph which, for me, is actually a little slow. As my fitness improves, my average speed will get better and by mid year I should be riding at around 20 mph or better and should be able to hold that fitness level for the rest of the year."

Fans of meticulous planning and spreadsheets will enjoy the detail in Searvogel's ride plan.

With Joel Sothern, Searvogel set a record for the over-50 two-man category in Race Across America last year, riding the 3020 miles in 6 days 10 hours and 8 minutes.

Just as Steve Abraham included a race in his Year Record's first day, Searvogel will be taking in several races over the course of his 12 months on the bike, including Race Across America, the Texas RAAM Challenge and the Race Across Oregon.

Like Abraham, Searvogel will be tackling the record under the auspices of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association, which seems to be the first cycling organisation to ratify the Year Record.

He writes: "The record by Godwin was never officially certified by any sanctioning body, though Guinness Book of World Records did offer belated recognition of Godwin's remarkable achievement.

"So any rider making an attempt per the rules below can get a record certified at a mileage below that recorded by Godwin, but we all know that Godwin's mark is the target."

You can follow Searvogel's progress on his blog and on Facebook.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.