Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After finishing 75,000-mile bike ride in Hillsborough, record-setter sleeps in

THONOTOSASSA — Tarzan slept in on Tuesday.

After breaking a world record Monday by riding his bike more than 75,065 miles in a year, Kurt "Tarzan" Searvogel figured he deserved it. So instead of slinging a leg over his bike at 6 a.m. like he usually does, the 52-year-old started his ride at Flatwoods Wilderness Park two hours later, even though he has four more days to add to his overall mileage.

"It's done. It's broken," he said during a break in the ride. "Everything now is just padding and making it harder for someone else to beat."

With friends and wife cheering him on, the "ultracyclist" from Little Rock, Ark., rolled past a 76-year-old record for the most miles ridden in one year. It was previously held by Tommy Godwin, a British cyclist who rode 75,065 miles in 1939.

Searvogel's 365-day odyssey, which is being tracked and certified by the UltraMarathon Cycling Association, began last January at an annual long-distance ride in Jupiter, and it will end there Saturday. But the record fell at Flatwoods Park.

Along the way, the chiseled software engineer with the shock of blond hair and goatee rode in eight states, collided with two cars, trashed a few bikes, got married, was diagnosed with asthma, got a scare from an irregular heartbeat, burned about 4 million calories and made many friends.

By the end of the day Monday, he'd ridden 75,117 miles and will probably hit 76,000 by the time he's done. That's an average of 200 miles per day and between 12 to 14 hours a day in the saddle.

That's three times around the earth. It's Miami to Jacksonville 217 times, or Miami to Seattle, Wash., 22 times. It's more than some cycling enthusiasts will ride in a lifetime.

Godwin was a vegetarian who rode a three-speed steel bike and had to contend with food rationing and blackout restrictions prompted by Great Britain declaring war on Germany. Still, some called it an unbreakable record.

Searvogel, who got his nickname for the way he swung from stairways in his college dorm, says that's why he did it. He was already an accomplished long-distance cyclist, riding events such as the Race Across America, or RAAM. He'd broken his local club's year record, a mere 23,000 miles.

"It had to be broken," he said of Godwin's feat. "I just knew I was meant to break it."

In fact, his girlfriend-turned-wife Alicia Searvogel deserves the credit for convincing him to commit to the effort and helping make it happen.

They met during the 2014 RAAM while she was working as a support driver for the racers. He was cocky and competitive, but kind, Alicia said. They had a lot in common— a love of yoga and cycling, and a shared philosophy: if you really want to do something, you can.

"He knew he could do this, but he was worried he would be throwing a year of his life away," said Alicia, a professional artist.

For the last year, Alicia served as a crew of one, handling nearly every aspect of life on the road so Tarzan could focus on three things: eating, sleeping and riding. She drove their RV, bought groceries, hustled to the laundromat and prepared meals and nutrient-packed smoothies to replace the 8,000 to 12,000 calories he burned each day, all while tracking Tarzan with a GPS system.

"Alicia kept me going on days when I didn't want to go," he said. "She kept it fun."

Tarzan alternated his time between an upright bicycle — his favorite is an Italian-made Pinarello P2 — and a recumbent bike. They budgeted about $1 per mile and estimate they'll spend a little more.

They rode in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Illinois, but spent the most time in Florida for its mild winter weather and flat roads. Tarzan had run-ins with cars in Inverness and Miami, but nothing serious. Locally, they rode the Suncoast Parkway and Withlacoochee trails. But the Flatwoods loop was ideal, protected from traffic and wind and close to a hotel and a tightknit and supportive cycling community.

Here and throughout the rest of the trip, cyclists came to ride along and share a piece of history. Asked what he'll remember about the trip, Tarzan is quick to reply:

"The people."

Contact Tony Marrero at or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

>>Fast facts

Tarzan's ride

For photos and video from Kurt "Tarzan" Searvogel's record-breaking ride, visit

After finishing 75,000-mile bike ride in Hillsborough, record-setter sleeps in 01/05/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 10:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Johnny Depp asks about assassinating the president at Glastonbury Festival (w/video)


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp has asked a crowd at the Glastonbury Festival when was the last time an actor assassinated a president. The remarks came during a segment Thursday in which Depp was speaking about President Donald Trump.

    Actor Johnny Depp introduces a film at the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, Thursday, June 22, 2017. [Grant Pollard | Invision/AP]
  2. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's



  3. Florida education news: Charter schools, traveling man, lunch prices and more


    #HB7069: Now that it's law, HB 7069 has a new target on its back: Will it be challenged in court? Broward County Democrat Sen. Gary Farmer says he's doing all he can "to …

    Thousands of children attend Florida charter schools, which are growing in number and now stand to receive capital projects local tax revenue.
  4. Forecast: Hot, humid and mostly dry conditions prevail for St. Pete Pride weekend


    The threat of any lingering effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have passed, leaving behind a relatively dry — but hot and humid — St. Pete Pride weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  5. Florida Insiders: The state parties are dying; 'I heard someone long for the leadership of Jim Greer'


    For all the attention on Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel's bone headed gaffe this week, the diminished state of the once mighty Florida GOP today compared to even a few years ago is arguably more striking than the condition of the long-suffering Florida Democratic Party. A decade ago, no one would have …

    Florida Insider Poll