Judging by the number of people who sign up every month for the latest Strava Gran Fondo challenge, completing a given distance within a set time is a popular addition to the cyclist’s armoury of boast-post material. Over the festive period I’ve also been inundated with updates and reports on people’s progress in the similarly organised Rapha Festive 500. Put in the miles and get a little digital (or actual one in Rapha’s case) roundel by way of a pat on the back. I don’t usually give too much attention to these ‘challenges’ but when I heard that Steve Abraham was going for a distance/time challenge recently I had to take notice. Why? Because Steve Abraham is going for Tommy Godwin’s record.
Steve Abraham beginning his One Year Time Trial. Photo via cnn.com
In 1939 Tommy Godwin set the record for the most miles covered by a single cyclist in a year. Riding an average of over 200 miles every day for twelve months his record of 75,065 miles (120,805km) has stood ever since and is considered by many as unbeatable. Even the start of World War II wasn’t enough to put Godwin off his pace and, partially for reasons of nationalistic pride, he kept on riding after December 1939, finally climbing off his bike in May the following year after reaching the 100,000 mile mark. He then a had few weeks off “to learn how to walk again” before joining the RAF and going off to fight.
Yesterday, whilst most of us were struggling with New Year’s hangovers and post Christmas bellyaches, Steve Abraham, an experienced long distance audax rider, began his quest to beat Godwin’s mark in what he is calling the ‘One Year Time Trial’. The 40 year old Milton Keynes man will be out in all weathers for hours and hours on end for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. January 1st marked the first day of Steve’s ultra challenge and he had a great day on his steel Raleigh bike and Brooks saddle, putting in 16 plus hours for 222 miles.
It’s an incredible undertaking requiring lots of support, loads of calories and an unmeasurable amount of grit and determination. The existing record is set so high that beating it by even the smallest amount will be an amazing achievement. And should he achieve it Steve will be worthy of receiving something considerably more impressive than a digital roundel.. Chapeau indeed!