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“The Year”- Amazing Ultra-endurance Cyclists

The Year by Dave Barter is the amazing story of cyclists through the years who have ridden as many miles as possible in a year. To start out he describes his own attempt to ride a double century (200 miles) in a day. This is clearly a grueling task, including grinding it out riding in the rain (the furthest I’ve ridden in a day is a century, or 100 miles). It sounds like something you might want to do, scratch off your bucket list, the rest for a week or so. Now put your head around the fact that Tommy Godwin of Great Britain rode an average of 200 miles a day, every day, for a year, in 1939. He then continued on to 500 days to set the record for riding 100,000 miles. This is of mind-boggling difficulty, especially considering he rode through the British winter, And during the last part of the ride, after September 1 when war was declared, it was awkward to ride at night because of blackout restrictions.

The history of this goes way back to the late 1800s when the “safety bicycle”, similar in design to modern bicycles, came on the scene. First there was a craze to see how many centuries someone could ride in a year, then riders started completing double and even triple centuries. Then in the early part of the 20th Century the British publication Cycling came up with the idea for the year record, and offered to keep track of riders’ mileage if they sent in signed verification cards for each day. There followed a steady onward progress of the record, and the fascinating stories of the men and women who attempted them, culminating in Tommy Godwin’s amazing performance. The story of that record is thrilling because it involves a competition between Tommy and another British rider, Bernard Bennett. Though they rode in different areas, they were aware of each other’s progress, and this clearly egged them on to further distances, with Tommy finally pulling away towards the end of the year (Bernard also broke the previous record though his effort was eclipsed by Tommy’s ride). This 1939 record stood until 2015 when it was broken by an American, Kurt Seavogel. Then it was smashed in 2017 by an American woman, Amanda Coker, who rode an astonishing 237 miles a day on average for a total of 86,573 miles for the year.

All of this is quite inspirational for me. I have no idea what the year record for a 70 year old plus rider, but I’d be interested to see how much I could do in a year without getting too crazy. I can cruise at about 14 miles per hour, so something like 15000 miles might be feasible with the kind of hours I do per week. I decided to try for a mileage personal record for one day, one week, and one month. I think a double-metric century (just over 120 miles) would be doable in a day. 400 miles might be achievable in a week, and about 1500 in a 30-day month. I’m going to give it a shot starting April 1. That will give me several weeks to ramp the length of my rides up a bit. After that I’ll see if I want to continue at a high volume or drop back to something more reasonable, but in any case I’ll monitor my miles until April 1, 2025. I’m sure if I tell my wife I’m going to start something like this on April Fool’s day she’ll agree that’s appropriate! The trick is to do this without interfering with other activities in our lives, which means just get up earlier and finish most rides before lunch. I will start posting my rides every day on Strava as rich king (Morgan Hill, Ca) and will also post them here.

Yesterday’s ride: 37 miles on my Bacchetta Corsa recumbent, in 2 hours 42 min, average speed 13.7 mph (22 kph) and avg heart rate 127. This felt like a nice cruising speed. Here’s the link to Strava.

At Start of Ride, Interesting Wisps of Fog in Front of El Toro

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