On January 1, 1939 Tommy Godwin and two other Britons set off to break the Highest Annual Mileage record of 62,657 miles. One of them crashed soon thereafter leaving the race between Bernard Bennett and Tommy Godwin. By the second month, Godwin was almost 1,000 miles behind the record pace, so he started increasing his daily mileage to 200+ miles per day, leaving Bennet in his dust.
The outbreak of World War II in September of that year imposed blackouts, forcing Godwin to ride ever-lengthening night hours with only a dull glow allowed to show from the headlight on his 30 lb, three speed Raleigh bicycle. More amazing for an Englishman, Godwin was a vegetarian. But food rationing soon depleted even his simple diet of bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. But on he pedaled! By October 26, Godwin broke the record set by the Australian. But he did not stop there. He continued riding until December 31, amassing an unbelievable mileage total of 75,065 miles in one year, a record with would stand for 77 years…until now.
Kurt “Tarzan” Searvogel, a 53-year-old American ultracyclist from Sheridan, Arkansas, has beaten that benchmark today with five days to spare, and looks likely to keep riding in the coming days to extend the new record even further.
75,065 miles, and counting in one year. To put that number in perspective, that’s roughly three laps around the Earth, or roughly 206 miles per day. Yes, a double century plus each and every day, rain or shine, regardless of how you feel.
Over the past 10 months, Tarzan has ridden an average of 12-plus hours per day across Florida, through Arkansas, into Wisconsin and back. He’s spent the last 6 weeks riding the majority of his miles on the 7 mile loop at Flatwoods Park, located in Tampa Florida, joined by a rotating peloton of cyclists which have traveled from across the state and around the country to help pace him.
My cycling buddies and I rode with him on numerous occasions during the Holiday break, both at Flatwoods Park and the Suncoast Trail. I like to think that our few hundred miles of pulling for him helped him, at least in a small way, to be part of history, shattering Godwin’s record. It’s definitely a great story to tell the future grandkids!
Congratulations to Kurt and Alicia.