Highest Mileage

The UMCA certifies attempts to break records for the Highest Mileage over the course of a year or a month, the Highest Annual Mileage Record (HAM’R) and Highest Monthly Mileage Record (HMM’R) respectively.

A brief history of the background for the HAM’R competition (also known as the one-year-time-trial):

In 1911, a weekly cycling magazine began a competition for the greatest mileage cycled in a single year, with the first record established at 34,666 miles by Marcel Plaines. And that record stood until the 1930’s when the record was broken six times in quick succession until the record stood at 62,657 miles, with the record being held by an Australian. So, three English cyclists set out to reclaim the record for the mother country. They all started riding on January 1, 1939 to see who could log the most mileage in one full year. One of them crashed soon thereafter and the race was now between Bernard Bennett and Tommy Godwin. Before two months were up, Godwin was almost 1,000 miles behind the record pace, so he started increasing his daily mileage. Bennett was soon left in the dust as Godwin upped his average to 200+ miles per day.

In September of that year, Great Britain declared war on Germany and blackout restrictions were imposed, forcing Godwin to ride in the ever-lengthening night hours with only a dull glow allowed to show from his bicycle headlight. More amazing for an Englishman at that time, Godwin was a vegetarian. But food rationing soon depleted even his simple diet of bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. But on he pedalled! 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. But even then, he did not stop. He wanted to get to 100,000 miles in the fewest days possible, so he rode on and in May 1940, he hit 100,000 miles in exactly 500 days.

When Godwin dismounted he spent weeks learning how to walk again. Then he joined the RAF for the war effort. And his record stood unchallenged until 2016.

Note: The record by Godwin was never officially certified by any sanctioning body, though the Guinness Book of World Records did offer belated recognition of Godwin’s remarkable achievement.

In 2015, a number of riders set out to challenge Godwin’s record, under the auspices of the UMCA. The competition was dominated by a duo, riding on two separate continents: Steven Abraham in the UK and Kurt Searvogel in the US. Starting out first, Abraham was on course to challenge Godwin’s record, but during this attempt, Abraham was struck by a drunken moped driver, breaking our rider’s ankle. But Abraham bravely continued by riding a recumbent pedalling only with his good leg while his broken ankle healed. Meanwhile Searvogel, who started a few days after Abraham, was pushing the boundaries of daily mileage and on January 9 2016, successfully ended his year of riding with a grand total of 76,076 miles. Searvogel planned his attempt to hit his final mileage of 76,076 miles exactly. Kurt wrote: “The number is significant in that it took 76 years and 76076 miles to take the record from the British – The spirit of 76 lives on”.

The current UMCA record is also recognized as a Guinness World Record.

However, all that could change in May 2017, as superstar Amanda Coker is averaging a higher daily mileage than Searvogel.

Up until the end of 2016, the corresponding target for women was the mileage of 29,603.7 miles logged by Billie Dovey in 1938.

On December 31 2016, Kasja Tylen completed her own “Year in the Saddle”, surpassing Dovey’s total with 32,326 miles. Tylen is awaiting confirmation of her record attempt from Guinness World Records, under whose rules she was riding. Although Coker is set to obliterate this distance (her mileage after 8 months stands at 56,231 miles already), Tylen and Coker’s records are expected to be recognised separately due to the different guidelines by Guinness and the UMCA.