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 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.
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.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson 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 editor Tony Farelly, 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 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.