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Steve Abraham's crew chief calls comments "ridiculous", Kurt Searvogel throws down challenge after Year Record war of words

National pride & tradition fuels social media "trash talking"...

The battle to break the record for the most miles ridden in a year has inflamed passions between supporters of the two main contenders. After a heated exchange on the road.cc Facebook page earlier this week, American contender Kurt Searvogel has thrown down a challenge to "trash talking" supporters of Briton Steve Abraham to go come ride with him and see if they can keep up. Abraham's crew chief said some of the comments were "ridiculous" and commenters knew "nothing".

Just seven weeks into what will be a year-long battle, the contest to beat Tommy Godwin's 75-year-old distance record has captured the imagination of many cyclists. For some, it's more than a contest between two riders, it's GB v USA, old technology v new and plucky British grit in lousy weather v calculated American organisation and sunshine.

When we reported on Monday about Searvogel's longest ride of the attempt so far, our Facebook page was flooded with responses, many skeptical of how hard the riding was for Kurt Searvogel.

Searvogel was slated for riding flat roads, using a recumbent and not doing the record in the UK.

Neil Taylor wrote: "Is he competing with the British weather and dark nights?"

Steven David James Wilkes said: "I'd like to see him do the same amount of climbing. He's cycling on flat all day."

Jonathon Dixon said: "Steve will beat him. He's got British grit. This Yank will quit."

Gary Cameron posted: "Amazing effort but record doesn't count if set outside UK …  record was set in UK under UK conditions so has to be done here."

Dan Baxter said: "He's also using a recumbent. Now, I think what both of them doing is pretty impressive, to say the least, but not sure that Tommy Godwin used a recumbent."

Searvogel's supporters weren't taking all this lying down.

Cole Tininenko said: "Kurt rules and your Brit only wishes he could do it in Florida too. Kurt's going to win it."

Chris Ressler added: "Stuffy Brits still pissed (mad not drunk) we booted there ass back to England. Go Kurt."

All good fun, and calmer voices did point out that it was solely a distance record, and the location, weather and amount of climbing were irrelevant.

Steve Abraham's crew chief, Chris Hopkinson expressed his disappointment with the tone of some of his rider's alleged supporters, calling the comments "ridiculous". Hopkinson is himself an accomplished long-distance racer who has ridden the Race Across America.

Hopkinson wrote: "I've never seen a more ridiculous set of comments from a supposed bunch of "Steve's supporters"

"I am actually ashamed!

"I am Steve's Crew Chief and would like to distance myself from these comments, as most of them seem to know little or nothing about what they are talking! I am the only person that has ridden with both Steve and Kurt this year and they are both looking super strong and doing a fantastic job!

"Florida is not flat in the least - I have just raced the Sebring 24hr in Highland County out here, I did 430.4miles and both my legs and my Garmin 810 say it wasn't flat!

"Both these riders deserve everybody's respect and kudos for even attempting to do what they are doing!

"Good luck to both Kurt and Steve, and for goodness sake get a proper or informed perspective on this before posting, or hey, just don't bother!"

Searvogel had a more tongue-in-cheek response critics. He posted: "I need to raise some extra cash and I heard that alot of brits were trash talking - so I've come up with a little game for all the big talkers. If anyone is willing to put up $200, they can come ride with me for a day. If they can keep up with me for the day they can keep the $200. If they can't I get to have a great room, dinner and beer on them ;-)."

We'd love to hear how they get on if anyone takes him up on it. We suggest going for one of his

The Year Record

The recognised mark for the greatest distance ridden in a year was set in 1939 by Tommy Godwin. He went on to set a record for the shortest time to cover 100,000 miles and after learning how to walk again joined the RAF.

The Year Record is now run under auspices of the Ultramarathon Cycling Association and there are two serious contenders taking a stab at Godwin's record. 

Steve Abraham is a star of the UK Audax long-distance riding scene and started on January 1. You can follow Steve through his website, on Strava and via Twitter.

Kurt Searvogel holds an age-group record for the Race Across America and started on January 10. You can follow him through his website, via Strava or on Facebook

For those who love a good spreadsheet (and who doesn't, really?) Abraham's crew chief Chris Hopkinson Abraham's and Searvogel's progress against Godwin's record

Trackleaders has live tracking of Abraham and Searvogel, and there's a Strava club where you can join to express your support as well as tracking their milage.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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25 comments

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BKD23 | 8 years ago
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I don't consider a recumbent is a bicycle. Both doing amazing but not going to follow "Tarzan" now after finding this out. Shame

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BKD23 | 8 years ago
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I don't consider a recumbent is a bicycle. Both doing amazing but not going to follow "Tarzan" now after finding this out. Shame

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blablablacksheep20 | 8 years ago
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Been looking at this record for a while and a couple of things.

Why are both parties using "aero tucks" and tri bars??

Tommy Godwin's record was done using a right sh&^ of a bike and him carrying all sorts with him.

I think in good sporting manner riders attempting to break this record should ride road bikes (and yes il allow carbon! ).

Using Aero tucks and tri bars is pretty much the same as using a non-FINA approved swim costume to break a world record...
we all know what happened to those records...they mean jack sh&^ now as those suits are banned.

Records need to be set and broken using the same rules not different ones.

On a side note, fair play to both parties for giving up a year and cycling non stop thats a achievement BUT it isn't breaking Tommy Godwin's record its setting a new record of their own.

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glynr36 replied to blablablacksheep20 | 8 years ago
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blablablacksheep20/ wrote:

TL DR

The 1930's called, it wants its whiny bitch back.

It's moving with technology, and pushing the human limits of endurance still.
Still very hard, still very difficult to do.

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dotdash replied to blablablacksheep20 | 8 years ago
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blablablacksheep20 wrote:

Tommy Godwin's record was done using a right sh&^ of a bike and him carrying all sorts with him.

I think in good sporting manner riders attempting to break this record should ride road bikes (and yes il allow carbon! ).

Using Aero tucks and tri bars is pretty much the same as using a non-FINA approved swim costume to break a world record...
we all know what happened to those records...they mean jack sh&^ now as those suits are banned.

Records need to be set and broken using the same rules not different ones.

On a side note, fair play to both parties for giving up a year and cycling non stop thats a achievement BUT it isn't breaking Tommy Godwin's record its setting a new record of their own.

Fair point about the tri bars but I bet Tommy broke the record with all the latest gear and techniques at the time, and if we had the internet people would be saying he should do it on a penny farthing, etc.

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jsabine replied to blablablacksheep20 | 8 years ago
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blablablacksheep20 wrote:

Why are both parties using "aero tucks" and tri bars??

Tommy Godwin's record was done using a right sh&^ of a bike and him carrying all sorts with him.

Well, they're using aero tucks and tri bars because that kit's available now. Just like Tommy Godwin used a 4-speed Sturmey hub (for a bit anyway ...) because that was the latest and greatest kit at the time.

Just like he got sponsorship from Ley Cycles for the first five months, then was sponsored by Raleigh with their latest road bike.

(And have you seen the amount of stuff Steve's carrying ...? Rack, Carradice, charging kit for all the lights and electronics ... (not to mention that Kurt's got a whole campervan full ...))

blablablacksheep20 wrote:

Records need to be set and broken using the same rules not different ones.

On a side note, fair play to both parties for giving up a year and cycling non stop thats a achievement BUT it isn't breaking Tommy Godwin's record its setting a new record of their own.

If you're going to use that argument, then Tommy Godwin's record might have been a successor to Ossie Nicolson or Bernard Bennett, but it sure as anything wasn't the same as the one Marcel Planes set in 1911, unless you reckon the nearly 30 years of kit development and road making in between counts for nothing.

And how about Walter Greaves? Only one arm, but he did 45,000 miles in 1936. Maybe Steve'll have to do 45,000 miles *per arm* for it to count for anything.

Sure, this isn't the same record. It's being validated by the UMCA, not by Cycling magazine. Steve or Kurt can take it with less than 75,000 miles in the year, and it'll still be the new UMCA annual record, set for the very first time.

But everyone knows 75,065 is the mark to aim for, so they're both aiming beyond that, using kit that's currently on sale and dealing with roads and traffic as they currently are. Chapeau to the pair of 'em.

(And all the best to Kurt, but Go Steve!)

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dotdash | 8 years ago
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They should do a dance off

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MKultra | 8 years ago
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I remain bemused as to where the money comes from to take a year off work. The problems us mere mortals face eh?

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jsabine replied to MKultra | 8 years ago
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MKultra wrote:

I remain bemused as to where the money comes from to take a year off work. The problems us mere mortals face eh?

In Steve's case, living frugally, doing this on a shoe-string, and building up to it for years. In Kurt's case, having built up a company that's successful enough to let him take a year off.

Not impossible. Not beyond mortal dreams. Just way beyond anything I could conceive.

I'm not sure whether I wish I wanted something *that much*, or whether I'm glad that I don't.

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jimbo2112 | 8 years ago
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If we are going to get anal about record classification, they should both ride a 3 speed like in the original record and no lycra or fancy sports supplements.

If the powers that be say there's a huge difference between recumbent and upright, then maybe we could split the 2, although I would not fancy doing those miles on busy UK roads in the dark on a recumbent!

Stick to the positives, they are both superheroes.

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Jamminatrix | 8 years ago
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Steve has corporate sponsors, Kurt is using a lot of his personal money. Way I see it, Steve already has an advatantage... Kurt could go broke and have to quit.

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Leviathan | 8 years ago
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2p'th> Kurt can't help being in the US, its where he is from, this shouldn't be a UK only record. Saying that, it isn't a recumbent or track cycling record either. It IS one man vs the road. Steve's challenge is more authentic, this is undoubtable, no matter how many times they bring up the War of Independence. After all we put those loonies on the boat in the first place.

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fenix | 8 years ago
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As far as I can see Tarzan is riding a conventional bike.

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darrenleroy | 8 years ago
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Riding a recumbent makes a mockery of the challenge. I say hang his Yankee ass high!

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gypsumfantastic | 8 years ago
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There's some ugly tribal cock waving going on here, can you not keep that twaddle on Strava?

Actually that's a good idea two Strava clubs Steves supporters v Kurts supporters highest average miles for the year wins irrespective of eventual outcome (total mileage / number of group riders). The prize? Bragging rights until some other crazy sod takes a pop at the record (no arguing about hover bikes though)

In the mean time, stop talkìng bollocks and leave the athletes to do battle with the road

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Gkam84 | 8 years ago
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I wish Steve would distance himself for his "crew chief". He's just after publicity for himself

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Magic | 8 years ago
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Larry Hagman in Dynasty? I know there was some cross over but wasn't J.R in Dallas. Maybe you meant Joan Collins!
Shed have flown to Vegas on B.A first class covered in Cinzano,

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chihuahua | 8 years ago
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I'm with some others here - no issue where but using a recumbent is stretching it a bit - no pun intended of course.

I rode my sittie up road bike beside someone riding their recumbent and I definitely required a significant increase in my power output if I was to continue to keep up and that was just after a mile or 2.

Ok Kurt - it appears that you haven't expereinced the joys of Las Vegas yet but my understanding is that you put up $200 and I put up $200 and the winner takes all i.e. $400 minus federal taxes of course. I'll have to take my chance with my Canyon Speedmax CF with Zipp 404 Firecrest and Zipp Sub-9 Disc and of course a skin suit and ably supported by my support team. I'm sure you will understand that I need to take every advanatge that I can if I'm to try and keep up with you regardless of what you might be riding.

So despite having a little endurance riding expereince please be assured that although you might, I'm not taking this matter lying down so when I win the $400 I'll be straight over to Las Vegas to win my fortune and become even richer than Larry Hagman was in Dynasty.

Or, if I'm less selfish I could contribute to a Lance Armstrong Driver Re-Training Programme.  39

In the meantime, I applaud your effort but when comparing both efforts I'm with Steve on this one.  41

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DrJDog | 8 years ago
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If he's riding a recumbent I'm sure I wouldn't be able to keep up (not that I'd be able to, anyway).

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Leodis | 8 years ago
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What trash talkers on road.cc!!

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Jicky72 | 8 years ago
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personally I hope they both fail and Godwin's record stays unbeaten . Then these two clowns could attempt a tougher challenge like trying to find a girlfriend  21

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pruaga | 8 years ago
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They are both doing something I could never even consider, so they both have massive respect.

Weather, location, hilliness are irrelevant but a recumbent seems to me to be not a 'bike' but a HPV instead.

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Chris James | 8 years ago
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This American chap doesn't seem to have got the hang of betting. Any naysayers get to keep their $200 if they keep up, but give him the money otherwise?

I can't see many crossing the Atlantic to take that bet on. Surely Kurt should be coughing up if the critics are right?

Anyway, it sounds like a fantastic effort so far by all concerned (except perhaps by Willain IronOx Pruett!).

(On the other hand, my mileage halved in January due to snow and ice, so I think Steve is going particularly well).

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Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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As the year rolls one, the decisive factor will likely be who suffers less from illness and injury. What makes this fascinating is that neither can 'take it easy' in case they fall too far behind.

While I agree that its about distance, not location, weather, climbing* etc - recumbent? Really?

* Could either of these riders be on course for a 'most climbing in a year' record?

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backflipbedlem | 8 years ago
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Good luck to both of them!
I'd love to be able to comfortably ride once the distance they cover each day!
Both very inspirational!!!  41

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