Monday 10 December 2018

Why I like the Festive 500

I got the message on Strava to register for the Festive 500. So what else could I do but to go forth and oblige! Why wouldn't I want to try and ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve?

Why not! I don't normally sign up to the 101 challenges that come up on Strava, but when it comes to the Rapha Festive 500 I do like to get involved. 

It seems a good time of year to do it - when the days can be a bit grey and you are tempted to not go out at cycling, preferring to stay home stuffing your face. I am still likely to stuff my face, but at least it will be safe in the knowledge that all those calories are being burned off. 

Record your kilometres by registering on Strava or you can go old school with a brevet card
What's more, I can enjoy tracking what others around the world have got up to on their challenges. I will try not to get too envious of the folks in Australia or South America who will be enjoying long summer days - or even folks in Southern Europe or across in California who will have mild weather during their days.

This challenge has been going since 2010, though I did it for the first time a couple of years ago. When I did it my theme was based on rides in and around London along the points of the compass. There were some areas like Box Hill, Reigate, Sevenoaks and Windsor which I knew well. But the challenge was also a great opportunity to discover other areas like North-East London and parts of East Kent.

Also last time around I had to challenge myself to being out all day in less than favourable conditions while still staying safe. The first couple of days were mild and sunny, whereas the week became cold, icy and then shrouded in mist by the end of the week.  
But by the time I reached my final day, on New Years Eve as I rode from Hampstead back home, I felt a great sense of satisfaction to know I had completed the challenge. 

As I had mentioned previously, 500km in eight days is not necessarily a massive challenge for a club rider. It is something that I can manage during a warm-weather training camp, or during one of my cycle tours in the summer.

But something about doing it at this time of year can be an effort because of the wish to stay home with the family and celebrate Christmas, and the weather not being appealing enough to get the bike out. Many people start the challenge and a lot fail.

So this year my theme will be rail trails - disused railway lines converted into cycle paths. It's not the easiest way to get in 500km as I will be on a gravel bike. The miles and kilometres tick over a lot slower than on the road. However, it will be scenic, and bad weather is less of an issue when on traffic-free paths.

So I will get in as many as I can around England. The rides won't be entirely off road, as I will still have to get to use the road to get to and and from them, and there may be some days when I just need to take the quickest route home.

I will have some special off-road lights as I may well be riding after dark on a trail, so that'll be fun!

My first day will begin in Bristol, going along the Bristol to Bath trail, and my last day will be somewhere on the coast - either the South Coast or the Yorkshire coast - I have yet to decide, but whichever one I end up at, I look forward to enjoying a celebratory ice cream on New Year's Eve!

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