A crash left Briton Steve Abraham far behind his US rival in the race to cycle the greatest number of miles in 12 months. But hes not a human to give up easily
The last day I considered Steve Abraham , he had a gigantic sporting dream: to smash the world record set in 1939 by Tommy Godwin of the greatest number of miles cycled in one year. After Godwin set his total, “hes to” teach himself to walk again.
It seemed unlikely , not because he didnt appear as if he could do it Id been chasing him in a Skoda all day, from Stroud to Milton Keynes, and couldnt get near him( this was partly traffic ). It was because he was so modest: he would never even think of telling you what a legend he already was on the long-distance( audax) cycling circuit. Everything about him so unassuming: his spartan living room full of motorcycles, bare lightbulbs, another motorcycle fancier building his dinner in the kitchen. That was at the end of January, and hed been running since New Years Day.
On 10 January, Kurt Tarzan Searvogel, a different kind of beast altogether, set off on the same bid across America. Abraham softly backed himself.
In March, calamity: a mope( careless moped, corrected one of Abrahams supporters, who by coincidence living on my road) hit him from behind. Abraham doesnt go in for recriminations. Oh, he stopped all right. It was me that fled the scene. It was either lose five hours in an ambulance in hospital when I was all right, or keep going when I wasnt all right. But he only got about 10 miles before the ache stopped him. So began an arduous process of one-legged recumbent cycling, total refusal and bitter disappointment.
In January, I satisfied him at the end of a 196 -mile day. This week, I caught him at 7.30 am, waiting for his breakfast to be ready, staring at his microwave with the intensity of a cat looking at a guinea pig. I was just going to go one-legged, until the ankle got better, in Milton Keynes Bowl. But I simply couldnt do enough miles doing that. Hundred miles in a day was a good day. But I required 200, so I was losing 100 a day, and Id already lost thousands because Id had 17 days not riding. I just couldnt get quick enough.
Naturally, he was back on the road before his ankle was strictly ready, and that didnt go so well, either. I went pretty well in June but I was trying too hard. He operated himself into the ground, he said. And the record was out of the window. It is an epic misfortune, told in miles and a very neutral voice.