Super Steve still going the distance as Kurt sets new record

Steve Abraham is attempting to break the world one-year distance record

Super Steve still going the distance as Kurt sets new record

On New Year's Day 2015, Steve Abraham embarked on a bike ride. It wasn’t one of those 1st January outings to clear a hazy Hogmanay head, the type of excursion one or two of us might have tried a few days ago to see in 2016, but the start of a single-minded mission to break the world record for the furthest distance cycled in one year.

So when most of us sat down for a slap-up meal on Christmas Day, CTC member Steve was cycling the best part of 200 miles. Much as he did virtually every day last year and will continue to do for most of 2016.

When he originally set off, he had one of the most remarkable and long-standing records in cycling in his sights – the astonishing 75,065 miles pedalled by Tommy Godwin way back in 1939. That’s an average of over 205 miles every day for a year, the equivalent of three times around the world.

However, he will now have to cycle even further to become a world-beater, as 53-year-old American Kurt Searvogel overtook Godwin's ‘unbreakable’ record yesterday (4 January). Searvogel, nicknamed Tarzan, surpassed the magic mark at Tampa's Flatwoods Park in Florida and still has five days to go, having set off on 10 January last year. He said: “You can do anything you want to do. If you believe you can do it, you can do it.”

Steve’s attempt to set a new record during the calendar year that has just ended came horribly unstuck when he was hit by a suspected drunk moped rider on 29 March 2015, breaking his leg above the ankle. He was out of action for two weeks before resuming cycling gradually, initially using one leg to pedal.

It meant his 2015 world-record schedule went from unbelievably tough to realistically impossible, so he decided to launch a second attempt on 8 August 2015…while still trying to cover as much distance as physically possible up until 31 December.

I was about 15 when I heard about Tommy Godwin’s record and always wondered if I could do it."

Steve Abraham, CTC member and cycling marathon man

The end result is that the 40-year-old cycling superman from Milton Keynes had spent nearly 4,500 hours in the saddle and ridden 64,205 miles by the time most of the country was singing Auld Lang Syne shortly after midnight on 1 January 2016.

In the process, Steve had climbed a total of nearly 1.5million feet – the equivalent of 52 Mount Everests. That is quite something considering he is trying to keep his routes as flat as possible.

Those were the remarkable figures for 2015 as a whole. When it comes to his ‘new’ assault on the record, by the end of yesterday (3 January) Steve had covered a total of 28,472 miles since 8 August – and he will keep pedalling until 7 August 2016 in a bid to beat Tommy Godwin’s distance.

His cause was hardly helped in early December when his progress was temporarily suspended as he was stopped by the police for cycling on an 'A' road.

Steve, who completed his first 100-mile ride at the age of 13, is a life-long 100% cycle commuter, has never driven a car and rides everywhere. He’s very close to CTC and has been a member since his early teens, firmly believing in the aims and work of the national cycling charity.

Shortly before setting off on his gruelling challenge, Steve said: “I was about 15 when I heard about Tommy Godwin’s record and always wondered if I could do it. Then three years ago I decided to start planning. I thought I could spend another year working in a warehouse all day or I could be out on my bike. I have given up my job and saved up some money.”

Steve is backed by a team of volunteers who organise everything from sponsorship and donations to providing food, accommodation and maintenance each night.

While the average British person would have consumed 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, Steve was burning nearly double that – not that he was counting.

Idai Makaya, of ElliptiGO UK Ltd, is a key member of Steve’s support team. He said: “Steve doesn’t count calories, he just tries to eat sufficiently to get him through each day’s ride. He is used to riding long distances. He seems just to get on with it. He says it doesn’t require special strategies for him, it’s just about getting as comfortable as possible and focusing on each day’s ride.

“Steve rides in ways which will give the easiest wind resistance or the least climbing, whenever possible. That determines which route he will use, but he does go over the same courses numerous times because the wind tends to follow just a few set patterns.

“Steve has had a few ups and downs since the big accident back in March and also a few recent illness incidents. Autumn winds got in the way in November and his average riding distance reduced by 10 miles per day in December, from 205 to 195.

“He is working to get that back up to 205 miles per day again by March 2016 – and then even higher before August, when he is set to finish his attempt.

“We are constantly developing his database of volunteer helpers and at the moment looking for people around the country who are willing to assist Steve on windy days, by meeting him at the end of a ride and driving him and his bike back to a starting point where the wind is at his back. We would warmly welcome any volunteers to contact his team via his website.”

London-based bike mechanic Bruce Berkeley is also having a crack at the one-year distance record. Making the most of summer weather conditions, the New Zealander started his attempt in Australia on New Year's Day and will return to the UK in April to continue the challenge.

The women’s record for the furthest distance cycled in a year is also being challenged in 2016. Nottingham’s Kajsa Tylen set off on New Year’s Day at the start of her attempt to beat the 29,603.7 miles clocked in 1938 by London-born Billie Fleming – who died in 2014 at the age of 100.

Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes