It’s December once again and thoughts turn to Christmas holidays, maybe a bit of time off work and of course the possibility of attempting the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. The Festive 500 is a Strava challenge where entrants need to ride 500km (311 miles) over 8 days starting on Christmas Eve. All finishers receive a beautiful Rapha cloth roundel as a congratulations. It really is a nice touch!
That works out to be a shade over 62km per day, every day. An easily achievable goal if you have no other commitments, but throw in the Christmas festivities (and the chance of awful weather) and it can be quite the challenge. Miss a day and those extra km’s soon add up! I’ve attempted it twice, completed it once. Here’s eight pointers to get you on the path to success:
1) Have an achievable game plan: Work out when you can ride a lot, what days you’ll only be able to ride a little, get yourself a handy spreadsheet outlining how many miles you intend to do each day to complete the challenge. Are there any days you absolutely CAN’T ride? Factor that in. I find it’s also best if you…
2) Get a head start: Try and put in one or two bigger rides on the first few days. Get ahead of the curve in order to build some “buffer” mileage. That way, if there’s an unexpected turn in the weather or a last minute event you can’t miss, you won’t fall too far behind.
3) Service your bike: A well maintained bike will serve you well and conserve you energy over the long haul. Plus you don’t want to be stranded miles from home with a mechanical failure that could have been prevented.
4) Grab some friends and plan an adventure: Needless to say, bagging some big miles is much more fun when you’re surrounded by good mates. Take turns sheltering in the draft, have a good chat and complete the challenge together. The miles will fly by much faster with friends.
5) Check the weather: Know the day’s wind direction/speed, know the temperature and chance of rain. Plan your rides accordingly! A tailwind on the homeward stretch is always a blessing.
6) Don’t be a hill hunting hero: There’s no prize here for elevation gain. This is a distance challenge pure and simple. Head out to the flatlands or rolling roads. Save the elevation gain for a different challenge.
7) Fuel well, rest and recover: You’ll need to be putting serious saddle time in over the course of the challenge. A big night out on the hard stuff will impact on your ability to log big miles the following morning! Ensure you fuel your rides properly, tuck into a healthy recovery meal afterwards and get some good shut-eye each night. Your body will thank you.
8) Send your loved ones away: Seriously. This challenge is MUCH easier if you minimise family commitments. The year I completed it my wife flew to Scotland for Christmas. I spent some time with my parents, but they knew I was planning to ride each morning. Take time off work too, you know you want to.
But most of all …. Enjoy the journey! #Festive500