NPR logo 1 Year, More Than 75,000 Miles: Cyclist Breaks 76-Year-Old Record

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1 Year, More Than 75,000 Miles: Cyclist Breaks 76-Year-Old Record

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Seventy-five thousand miles is long enough to cross the United States about 25 times. Long enough to circle the equator — three times.

And for 75 years, 75,000 miles was long enough to be legendary. Or more specifically, it was 75,065 miles — the miles-biked-in-a-year record set by Tommy Godwin in 1939 and never broken since.

But on Monday, a man named Kurt Searvogel pedaled past that mark. On Saturday — the last day of his year of extraordinary biking — he is pushing toward 76,066, a full thousand miles farther than Godwin's legendary feat.

Kurt Searvogel on Day 1

"He him-haws that 76,000 is good enough," Alicia Searvogel, Kurt's wife and and one-woman support team posted on Facebook Saturday morning. "No! He's done but he's not done. ... 223 MILES TODAY!!!!"

It's just 223 miles in a day, after all ... only 15 miles more than the average daily pace that 53-year-old Searvogel, aka Tarzan, has maintained since Jan. 10, 2015.

How exactly do you go about biking 75,000 miles in a year? "Only A Game," at member station WBUR, spoke to Searvogel and shared a day in the life of a man tackling the HAM'R — the Highest Annual Mileage Record:

" 'Normally I'll wake up around 5:00 and get some breakfast,' Searvogel said, 'and be on the bike around 6:00, pretty much ride until about 8:00 or 9:00 at night. Keep it to a 14-15 hour day and then — and then get enough sleep to keep going for the next day.'

"This has been Searvogel's schedule for 365 days in a row. Wake up. Ride 200 miles. Upload the data from his GPS. Eat and sleep."

Searvogel's planned itinerary called for a "rest and recovery" day every seventh day: a mere 176 miles. But his records show he usually blew past 200 even on those "rest" days.

Alicia, Kurt And Company on Day 358

It was an eventful year. Searvogel got in two collisions with cars, was diagnosed with asthma, had a heart scare, traveled through eight states and went through multiple bikes, the Tampa Bay Times reports. And in October, he and Alicia, his crew chief from the start of the journey, were married. He still clocked 175 miles that day.

Searvogel is not the only one avidly pursuing the HAM'R. The record first set by Godwin — a vegetarian Brit who battled foul weather and World War II food rationing, in a feat well worth reading about over at WBUR — is also being chased by Steve Abraham. Abraham was hit by a moped and broke his ankle — but kept riding. He restarted the year counter in August and is continuing his effort.

But for now the HAM'R is Searvogel's, and the only question is how high he'll push the record mark.

The final stretch is a ride from Jupiter, Fla., to St. Augustine, Alicia Searvogel said on Facebook. You can watch Kurt Searvogel's progress through his GPS tracker.

Correction Jan. 9, 2016

Owing to a boneheaded math error, this story originally suggested the U.S. was 300 miles across. Seventy-five thousand miles is, of course, equivalent to crossing the U.S. approximately 25 times, not 250.

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