Kurt Searvogel has broken the highest annual mileage record held by British rider Tommy Godwin since 1939

British rider Tommy Godwin’s 1939 record for the most number of miles ridden on a bicycle in a single year has been broken by American Kurt Searvogel.

Searvogel rode through Godwin’s long-standing record of 75,065 miles (120,805 kilometres) on Monday (January 4) to reach 75,270 miles (121,135 kilometres), having started his attempt on January 10 2015.

>>> Comment: Why Kurt Searvogel’s annual cycling record deserves our respect

The 53-year-old from Sheridan, Arkansas, who is also known by his nickname of ‘Tarzan’, broke the record in Flatwoods Park, Tampa, Florida, with five days to spare and averaged just over 209 miles ridden per day and 12 hours per ride.

If Searvogel continues to ride at the same pace for the next five days, he could set a new mark of 76,315 miles.

Not only has Searvogel broken Godwin’s 77-year-old mark, but he has also beaten British hope Steve Abraham to the record. Abraham commenced his attempt on January 1 2015, but suffered a setback when he was hit by a moped in March, breaking his ankle.

Although Abraham continued to ride, the 42-year-old only reached full fitness again in August, and decided to restart his record attempt from August 8 – and therefore still has 215 days left to beat Searvogel’s new record.

>>> Long-distance cyclist Steve Abraham stopped by police for riding on A47

A new challenger has also joined in: New Zealander Bruce Berkeley commenced his attempt from January 1. Berkeley, who is based in London, currently holds the record for most miles ridden on a bicycle in a week and a month.

You can follow Searvogel, Abraham and Berkeley‘s progress via Strava.

Update on January 11: Searvogel posted a year-end total of 76,076 miles (122,432km), and therefore that is the new Highest Annual Mileage Record

  • harry

    I believe it is a physical ordeal, my point is more the geographic layout of the event, I can only guess that Florida is a lot flatter than the East of the UK, and that the weather is more accommodating, but the cycling around a park in circles doesn’t really represent real world cycling.

  • Michael

    The whole record is a bit of a “cop out” from that point of view.

    Riding slowly for a long time is not really difficult. It’s not a sign of great athleticism. It’s not really a surprise that the people doing this record are not fit, young athletes, but middle-aged men.

    The challenge here is not really athletic or physical.

    You’ve got to overcome the weather. You’ve got to overcome realising that the record is a waste of time. You’ve got to overcome potential issues of fit causing discomfort or injury. What you don’t really need to worry about is fitness – because you’re basically riding all day without getting out of breath – and if 200 miles is a stretch when you start, simply starting to do it will make you fit enough.

    Most training plans for easy riding to hit 100 miles are around 8 weeks. But if you’ve already cycled for a couple of years, you’re good to go. I think the tricky thing for most cyclists would be reining in the temptation to go too fast because the actual pace you need to go at feels so slow and so easy.

    And that is perhaps why some people think it’s harder than it actually is, – because mentally they compare how they feel after shorter rides where their heart rate has been higher and then imagine that “200 miles” must be really difficult.

    It would get tedious for sure, and fatigue is going to build day after day after day. It would be miserable in the winter. But what it wouldn’t be is taxing in athletic terms. If you’ve ever struggled to reach the top of a hill with your lungs and legs burning then you’ve done something this challenge doesn’t require. If you’ve ever sat behind a fitter guy pushing at 20mph and you’re puffing and panting to keep up then you’ve done something this challenge doesn’t require.

    If you’ve ever ridden a bike slowly, barely getting out of breath, then that’s it. That’s what this is about.

    Compare with RAAM, where the riders average speed is measured over the whole event, i.e your average speed includes the time you are sleeping or stopped. They get around 13-16mph. Whereas if you look at these guys average speed over 24 hours, it’s more like 8mph or something.

    So significantly less effort than RAAM requires – and, as you note, you get to pick your route, so you can ride with tailwinds and downhills as much as you want.

    If you ride with a tailwind, get someone to drive you back and ride the same route with a tailwind again, that counts.

    But anyone motivated to do it could do it.

    If you want a difficult cycling challenge. Try finishing the TdF, let alone winning it. Or winning a mountain stage. Or breaking the hour record. These are things that are significantly less mileage, yet nevertheless require significantly more training and fitness to do. But they’d be completely impossible for these ‘ride a long way slowly’ middle-aged cyclists to do.

    Maybe it’s me, but I’m not impressed by a “world record” that I could do if I could be bothered to do it but that, otherwise, requires no special talent, skill or fitness.

  • harry

    I’m not saying this isn’t a big deal, but riding in circles around a park, gaining less elevation over 200+ miles than I do on my 8 mile commute seems to be a bit of a cop out. Would the record be valid if Steve Abraham chose to ride around a Velodrome instead of going out and covering real world miles?

  • SirWobbly

    Not sure what point you’re trying to make. A two wheeled recumbent is a
    bicycle in the same way a three wheeled recumbent is a tricycle. What on earth a “hip crowd” has to do with the price of fish is anyone’s guess.

    Oh, and congratulations Kurt! The article failed to mention he also found time to get married during the year too!

  • Ronin

    I don’t know. Should that record count if a portion of the miles are ridden on a recumbent?

    I suppose if the record is for the most miles ridden in a year on a bicycle, it should count, since a recumbent is a bicycle. But, if a recumbent is not a cycle, this term being reserved for bikes that are hip with the in crowd, then maybe the record should not count. Or, should we now use the phrase, “recumbent cycle”, and describe this record as the most miles ridden in a year on a cycle.

    But, that could be problematic, since a cycle could be a unicycle or tricycle, no?

  • J1

    Joke.

  • Giles Cudmore

    Man done good. Nice weather to do it in most of the time too!

  • The Awakening

    Congratulations to Kurt Searvogel on an epic effort.