Sunday, January 10, 2016

The New Highest Mileage In a Year Record

Since 1939 the most miles ridden in a year was 70,065 miles set by Tommy Godwin of the UK.  It was considered the "unbreakable" record.  Nobody has come close to besting this until this year.  In what can only be considered superhuman strength, courage and persistence Tommy has been bested.  On Saturday January 9, 2015, Kurt Searvogel pedaled his last stroke in his effort to set the new highest miles in a year record.  Tarzan, as he is known by, had to average 205+ miles per day everyday, 365 days in a row, to beat Godwin.  He averaged 208.4 miles everyday for a year.

It may seem easier to accomplish this these days.  Tommy's custom built bike and later his Raleigh Record, although high tech back in 1939, were heavy by today's standards.  Both his bikes had only 4 gears.  He had to carry his spare tires.  Despite all the advancements in bicycle technology, nutrition, communication, weather forecasting, vehicle support, clothing ect it still came down to saddle time and inner strength to carry on day after day, mile after mile and the sacrifice of everything in life for an entire year.

Kurt and Alicia.  Will she set the women's record?

Kurt played it smart.  Started away from his Arkansas home to begin the quest in the warm weather of Florida.  Flat land, too.  He calls himself the "hardest working lazy man."  Studying the weather forecast every night he chose routes that would take advantage of the wind.  He also carried a quiver of bicycles to fit his needs.  A road bike, a time trial bike for extra speed and a recumbent to keep saddle sores to a minimum.  He would switch bikes a few times a day.

Alicia was his crew chief and 1 person crew for the entire year.  She drove the van carrying his gear and extra bikes.  She would find places to sleep and run broken bikes and wheels to the shop whenever necessary which was quite often.  Alicia did a lot of videoing and rode with whenever possible.

It was not always easy.  When he broke out of Florida the rain caught up with him.  And the rain doused him on his last day.  He did note that after completing this that the temps in Florida dropped to the 30s.  Done just in time.  He rode through the hottest and most humid weather as well.  He had to change routes due to flooding.

Now that is a flat!

Then the mechanical issues.  Miles destroy bikes slowly.  75K in a year puts a decade a wear and tear on a bike in one year.  Flat tires and broken wheels.  His competitor from England, Steve Abraham, specifically road bikes with disc brakes in order to give his wheels a longer life since traditional brakes wear out the braking surface of the wheels eventually.  Kurt literally broke several bikes.  Other issues included a Garmin going bad on him.  The Garmin was required by the Rules for establishing the record.  No Garmin recorded miles, no official miles.  His support vehicle accidentally took a tankful of diesel instead of regular.  No bueno.

And the toll on the body.  He missed a day of riding because of a respiratory infection that had had him on a IV antibiotic.  Abraham was hit by a drunk on a moped and broke his ankle thus forcing him to restart his quest.  Kurt was hit a few times by cars but never suffered a serious injury.

Tarzan would often eat a pepperoni or meat pizza at the end of the day.  He lost 25 lbs at the beginning of this quest.

Finally, he had to take a year off of work.  He had to leave his software business behind so he could   do this.  Kurt only had a few sponsors and lacked the financial support of a professional athlete.

One of his few sponsors was for this energy drink.  Most of the time he lived on junk food.  He ate what he wanted to  which is easy when one is burning 10,000 calories per day.

Last but not least, the strength it takes to get out of bed every day knowing that you need to ride over 205 miles?  I think he averaged 12 hours every day to do that.  That does not include the 1 mile day he had because of illness or other days that were cut short.  Day in day out.  Over and over again and again for a year.  A day off puts him 205 miles behind.  There were times he considered dropping out.  Alicia would not let him.  There are many people that drop out of Ragbrai, a 7 day event of 80 miles a day.

I trust that Alicia and him slept well last night.  It has been a long adventure for them.  No ill will toward Steve Abraham.  I wish him luck.  Maybe he can take away Tommy's record as fastest to ride 100,000 miles while Kurt maintains the HAMR.  But my final thoughts of this I really have to salute Tommy Godwin for doing this back in 1939.

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