Bicycling records come and go, but one that has survived for 76 years is Tommy Godwin’s record of cycling 75,065 miles in one year — 1939.
Now, 40-year-old Steve Abraham from Great Britain is trying to break that record.
Anyone who has set a goal for annual bike mileage in a year knows how difficult it is to achieve. Even on years when I set a very modest goal of 4,000 miles, I’m often cramming in cold, rainy rides in late December to finish.
I always find that a lot can happen during a year to offset the target of just 333 miles a month, or about 10 miles day.
To set the one-year distance record, Abraham has to ride 205 miles per day. That’s easy for us in the Seattle area to understand. That is the same distance as the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, except there’s no bus back to Seattle and you must repeat it every day.
As of today, Abraham is a little off pace. According to his website, One Year Time Trial, Abraham has covered 14,738 miles. That’s about 191 miles per day, a few miles off what he needs to set a record. He intends to pick up the pace in the summer.
To get an idea of what an impact this ride has on a person’s body. Godwin’s online biography says that he kept on riding after Dec. 31, 1939, until May 1940 when he set the 100,000 mile record in 500 days. Then, he stopped riding his bike and had to spend weeks learning how to walk again before he could go to war to fight the Germans.
Abraham is riding a Raleigh (Sojourn model) on his quest. It’s outfitted with aero-handlebars and equipped with GPS devices to track his progress. (You can see his daily rides at Strava. Also Godwin’s and Abraham’s relative progress is being recorded at Cycling Year Record on Twitter. ) Interestingly, Godwin also rode a Raleigh, although it was a heavier model with state-of-the-art four gears.
Obviously this is a costly endeavor, partly because he has to take a year off from work to accomplish it. Check out his website if you’d like to help out. Also, look for a link to his Facebook page where you can give him a shout out.
Interviewed in The Telegraph, Abraham says he gets up about 4 a.m., eats, checks his route with the aid of his volunteer crew members, and it on the road by 5 a.m. Many rides start at home, but some rides end at a host’s home in another city.
He’s used to the rigors of long-distance cycling, as he ridden in five Paris-Brest-Paris events.
“Success in this challenge is not just about fitness or determination, it’s also about some good fortune. I have to avoid illness, injury and incidents in order to get through this.
“It’s like facing all the pitfalls life can throw at you and finding your way around them.”
Good luck to staying the course and keeping healthy!